CHIOS - KAMBOS
Chios has played an important role in Greek history from ancient into modern times. In all eras the Chians have distinguished themselves as able merchants and mariners. Indeed Chians occupy a pre-eminent place in world shipping today.
During the period from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century in particular, when Chios was occupied first by the Genoese and subsequently by the Ottomans, its development was dynamic in all spheres: economic, social, cultural. The architectural wealth from this period is especially interesting. Despite the major disasters suffered by the island in the nineteenth century, many notable monuments and historic settlements have survived. Outstanding among these is the Kampos, fascinating for its long history and its singular architecture and environment which have endured to the present day.
The development of the Kampos as the southwards continuation of the town of Chios began in the years of Genoese domination (1346-1566). It was the foreign overlords (The Giustiniani) who organized the islands economy on modern bases for the day and introduced the systematic cultivation of citrus trees in the Kampos as well as the export trade of their fruits. Genoese nobles, Byzantine dignitaries and prosperous local merchants, who for almost five hundred years (until 1822) constituted the islands powerful ruling class with titles, armorial bearings and a presence in international trade built their summer houses (pyrgoi) in the Kampos. This harmonious combination of residence and production created an unrivalled milieu for life and work. Foreign travelers who visited Chios give enthusiastic descriptions of the lush gardens and the grand country houses of the Kampos. Chios enjoyed an economic and social heyday throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and the Kampos developed accordingly. Weak Ottoman sovereignty, continuous contact with the West and accumulated wealth ensured a climate of peace, affluence and progress on the island. The leading mercantile families engaged in trading silk textiles, citrus fruits and other commodities in the international commercial centers of the day, while Chian intellectuals in Letters and Science emerged, with a significant presence in Europe.
In the terrible massacre of the population of Chios by the Turks, in 1822, the Kampos was plundered and left deserted. The property-owners dispersed all over the world and the estates passed almost totally into other hands. The nineteenth century was a difficult period of survival and readjustment for Chios. In 1881, a major earthquake destroyed almost all the pyrgoi in the Kampos. In the ensuing years rebuilding and resettlement of the region commenced, in a general climate of revival on the island, before and after its liberation from the Turks and union with Greece in 1912. Splendid houses were built on the sites of the pyrgoi, while the surroundings were kept as they had been formed of old. The Kampos survived thriving and inhabited into the twentieth century, with its basic characteristics, its citrus trees, enclosure walls and so on, virtually intact.
However, socio-economic changes after the Second World War began to affect it. Dilapidation of the old buildings, deterioration of the natural environment, problems in production are obvious, despite the related efforts, studies and legislative measures of recent years, all directed at its protection.
As the visitor wanders through the Kampos today he will recognize buildings and works of art of various periods. He will be saddened by the dereliction but will delight in the restoration of many lovely houses and admire the exquisite art of the stone bell-towers of the churches. Above all, he will ascertain that the Kampos with its long past is verdant and cool, offering contemporary man a quiet, tranquil refuge in a unique amalgam of culture and nature.
Abstract from "Wanderings - The Kampos of Chios"
Ministry of the Aegean
Text - Photographs: Fanny Aneroussi - Leonidas Mylonadis
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