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.
HOW TO GO THERE
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
WHAT TO SEE
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.
WHAT TO EXPECT
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.