Oinousses is a complex of many small islands east of Chios island and very close to the coast of Asia Minor. Most maps of Greece show the group as a small dot. The biggest of the islands is Oinoussa the Egnousa and it is the only one that is inhabited. The other small islands are: Panayia, Vatos, Pontikoniso, Avloni, Archontoniso and two very small twin green islands in front of Egnousa called Prasonisia. Oinoussa has a small village of about 500 permanent inhabitants, and is the island's port while Kastri is inhabited during the summer months. Oinousses belongs administratively to Chios from which it is only 9 nautical miles away. The island has been known as the motherland of sailors for many generations.The biggest shipowning names of the Greek shipping community have their origin in Oinousses. Their villas are built here and they visit the island in the summer months. Most of the public buildings on the island were built by them and they support financially a maritime Lycee and a college for officers of the merchant navy.


Unless you have your own yacht there is only one way to go: by daily ferryboat from Chios.


The name Oinousses comes from the Greek word Oinos (wine) -- essa which means a place full of wine. The island is reffered to as long ago as the 6th century BC by Ekateos. Herodotus also tells us that Fokaeis wanted to buy it from the people of Chios who however refused to sell. Its history is closely linked with that of Chios. It is also reffered to by Thoukidides and Luke the Evangelist. The islands have been inhabited on and off since then, until the Genoese took them over . Oinoussa was inhabited again in the 16th century AD. Shortly after that the Turks conquered the islands, followed in 1675 by the Venetians. Due to the many attacks by the Saracens the island was deserted once again to be reinhabited at last in 1715 by Greeks from Kardamyla in Chios. During the Turkish occupation and due to the heavy taxation imposed by the Turks the inhabitants turned their interest to the sea, thus creating the first traditional shipowning centre in the Greek world and mothering the biggest families in shipping since then. Names such as Pateras, Laemos , Hadjipateras and others have their roots in this small island only 14 square kilometers in area.


Oinoussa, the main village, with the shipowners mansions, all very impressive, the monument to the sailor's mother, the old building of the maritime Lycee.

The Maritime Museum with more than eighty paintings, most of them by Glykas. Also the collection of model ships of the Napoleonic Wars, bequeathed by Antonis Laemos.

The Monastery of Zoodochou Pigi in the small island of Panayia.

The Monastery of Evangelismos built and run by Patera.


This is a very closed small community and the visitor should not expect either a cosmopolitan life or tourist amenities. The inhabitants are all well off and they support themselves and all the needs of their island. They are not really interested in attracting tourists. There is only one hotel with 23 beds, so if you are planning to stay you must make the necessary arrangements. The regular visitors have their own big mansions and keep themselves to themselves. A one day visit is better advised. There is plenty of fish and the local dish is boureklikia ( a pie with grass). So if you are on Chios and you wish to get a glimpse of where the shipping tycoons were born and have their traditional houses, take time and go by boat to this tiny complex of islands. It is indeed a different experience.

By Lelia Mitsides.
Copyright: Hellenic Electronic Center

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