Over the centuries, mastiha production has shaped the history and culture of the Chian people. Founded under the Byzantine Empire, the settlements of southern Chios where the mastiha tree grows became known as ‘Mastiha Villages’ (Mastihochoria).
The settlements were built like fortresses away from the sea, with a tower in their centre and two iron gates that closed at sunset, to protect from the common threat of pirates and looters in search of the precious resin. The isolated microcosm within the walls of each mastiha village allowed the locals to preserve their ancient customs, traditional costumes and dialects, which varied from village to village.
Today, the remote villages furthest from the Chios capital still maintain elements of their dialects and you can still experience the impressive and beautiful architecture of the medieval villages like Pyrgi and Mesta.