The Doors of Mastichochoria I

Our first visit to Chios just recently could be described as wanderlust. It is a place we had longed to visit and experience the Mastichochoria, the Greek island’s mastic villages. Mesta, one of these mastic villages is located in the southwest of the island. It has retained much of its medieval character – long stone vaulted archways (diavatiko) act as passages from the centre square (plateia) to the outer village fortified walls with houses extended overhead to maximise living space within. It was fun exploring, even though we got lost now and then in the maze, often finding ourselves in dead ends.

This area of the Mastichochoria is where the Pistacia lentiscus tree is cultivated for its aromatic resin – the only place in the world this sought after product is produced. Collectively, the villages are represented on the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Further, the product – mastic – is now under EU Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status. Each of the mastic villages have unique characteristics just as they have unique mastic tree varieties modified over centuries of local agricultual experimentation.

Mesta has been continually inhabited by mastic growers since the 12th century. Recently, funding has allowed the villagers to restore the crumbling medieval buildings to kick-start tourism. Off its stone canyons are doors to storerooms and houses – some inhabited and some awaiting reconstruction and all telling stories of life in the village. This one is opposite an inhabited house and now serves as a niche for decorative wild broom flowers in a vase on a small table, shoes tucked underneath, with a more functional broom and mop propped behind.

An inhabited house with a basic green door with ironwork in front of glass significantly sports a smoke cross blackened above the door made from the lit candle carried home from the recent Easter vigil at the church.

And, an uninhabited house with a wonky chained double door is marked with whitewashed crosses on its rough wood panels.

Full of colourful mottled character is this secure metal door to a ground level storeroom. A practical grapevine is growing out of its base to add a bit of shade to the balcony terrace above.

Definetly awaiting reconstruction, this door has a lot of interesting colour and texture. It will probably be replaced with something more modern and functional.

In contrast, residents wait at a well-kept door for the return of the key holder at supper time.

We have seemed to catch this village in the middle of a metamorphosis and in the off-tourist season full of busy construction with cement mixers everywhere.

Coming up soon, more doors of the Mastichochoria – Pyrgi, Olympoi and Vessa.

Wanderlust: The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.

Also, check out Norm’s Thursday Doors for views of doors worldwide.


    • Check out Norm’s Thursday Doors. Until I saw the posts on his blog, I had no idea that many many people around the world enjoy taking photographs of doors. I’m lucky that here in the Mediterranean we have many doors of character!

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    • It was magical, Francesca. We were lucky to be there off tourist season as we were told it can be quite packed during the summer. We stayed in one of those re-constructed Medieval buildings and it took us a few days to be able to navigate back to it without consulting a plan of the passageways which I downloaded from the internet.

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  1. This place looks so cool. Total work of art! Good stuff! You’ve got my follow. Check out my comedy blog and give it a follow if you like it!


  2. Absolutely gorgeous! And what is it about old doorways that is so magical? I can’t resist taking pictures of them either, to my husband’s dismay. 😛


  3. I thoroughly enjoyed this post. Great photos and some interesting info and history of an area I admit total ignorance towards.
    Thanks so much for sharing this fascinating place with us this week 🙂
    *Runs off to to more research about Mastic*


  4. Love the doors you found in Mastichochoria. My favorites are the one with the table with flowers and the gorgeous turquoise/lime green one. I’m adding this island to our long list of places to go in Greece!


    • I took so many photos of doors when we were on Chios that they made up about half my total number of images! Yes, that door with the broom blossom and its stripy cloth was pretty, but I loved the idea that shoes/boots were under the table and that a broom and mop were stacked up on the side. Chios is a great island and well worth a visit.

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