On the north east side of Chios , at a distance of 16km from the city, one comes across Lagada. Its main inhabitants are seamen and cattle-breeders. According to the last census in 2000 the population of Lagada was 1910.
Up to 1998 Lagada and Agrelopos were a settlement of their own. In 1998, the Kapodistrias law forced both of these communities to join the Municipality of Omiroupolis (which also includes Vrontados and the villages Karyes, Sykiada, Augonima, Anavatos, Sidirounta).
After the junction of Sykiada-Agios Isidoros and through a rocky landscape, we can see the village that spreads along a wide valley ( ‘lagadi’ ), after which the village was named- it is full of olive trees and fruit trees with abundant springs of fresh water.
Lagada is crossed by the river Krikeli and its most fertile area is the interior due to the alluviums of the river. The area found there, is Katalimata and Taxiarhis. As it is said, people used to camp in the region of Katalimata to protect themselves from big earthquakes. On the left side of Lagada the settlement of Agrelopos can be found. This is where wild olive trees (agrielies) grow, and together with Lagada they make a developing area.
As soon as one sees the village, on the east side one notices the many windmills (its main part is well preserved) which existed in the area and where people mainly grinded wheat.
The main part of Lagada is located at the foot of the hill, close to the windmill. Following the sloping road, we see the pinewood of Karida on the right, while crossing the narrow channel of Glifos, we arrive in Lagada with its narrow streets, low houses and trim yards full of flowers.
The channel of Glifos derives its name from the springs of water that leed there. Its one side is full of eucalyptuses while it is a safe anchorage for the boats of the village.
In the southern side of the village we come across Skardanas with houses washed by the sea.
Entering the village from the central street taking the first right turn, we are led to the little port of Lagada with lots of cafes, ouzeri (ouzo selling restaurants) and taverns. Visitors can catch a glimpse of the islands of Oinoussae from there. As every visitor can observe, the village is found in the depth of a creek protected from the winds.
Initially, the inhabitants of Kydianta in Lagada used to own cafes where the seamen were the main customers, but after they started dealing more systematically with shipping, they went down to Lagada and so they became the first inhabitants of the village. The village was probably first inhibited in 1875, as it seems from the date of the flagstone of the oldest house in Lagada,. However, Lagada was not established as a community until 1834 together with Kydianta.
During the war of independence in 1912 the locals fought against the Turks. During the battle of Aipos the Turks retreated in Kydianta, while from the Greek fleet shelled them from the port of Lagada . In 1940 many locals were travelling while a German guard was settled. Many people got away from the port of Lagada towards the Middle East , via Turkey . In 1943 the village starved for days because many caciques had fled to the Middle East . By that time they cultivated the region of Kampos while a lot of people went on foot to the north villages of Chios in order to get some wheat or maize.
The Germans left from Lagada on 9 th September 1944 , leaving behind mines in the region of Glifos and though they had warned the locals, some of them were killed by them.
Lagada also mourned many seamen during the German occupation. A typical case is the Greek lorry boat ‘Pileys’, which was the last boat that was sunk by a German submarine on 13 th March 1944 in the Atlantic Ocean . The brothers Panagiotis and Vasilis Leontaras were among the victims.
Naval tradition of Lagada
The rocks, the high mountains, as well as the barren land, led the inhabitants to the sea because it was not easy to deal with agriculture, especially in the summer.
The road to the sea led people to the seashores, where naval centres used to be developed. After all, Delphini was such a centre from the ancient years, that it soon became a junction for all journeys.
During the Peloponnesian war, both Athenians and Spartans used Delphini as a base where they put their ships in repair. After the Peloponnesian war, it was probably abandoned for a while, however it was used again in the Roman Era. In the Byzantine years shipyards began operating, a fact that was encouraged by the rich vegetation, since Chios was planted all over with pine trees. Later, during the Genoa and Turkish domination, ships were constructed there. The locals chose the sea even after the destruction of Chios in 1822.
The inhabitants of Kydianta used to deal with trade, by buying citrus fruit from Chios , which they traded in Istanbul , in exchange for wheat. Since 1840 they began to own vessels, most of them caiques, while they had the fame of good sailors and captains.
The inhabitants of the village were not ready for the transition from sail shipping to steamshipping, since only a few were educated. During the German occupation the caiques contributed to the supply of the village, while the Germans had ordained the motor vessels. By then Lagada had grieved for many victims, since the mines wiped out many men.
After the civil war, many caiques were destroyed and many ships were put out of commission in Givari, which thus constituted the cemetery of caiques. The locals found their fate once again in the sea and they worked mainly as crew members.
After the war captains coming from Lagada began cooperating, making companies and buying ships, so nowadays well known ship-owners come from this area.
The people who truly keep up the naval tradition of Lagada however, are the ordinary seamen who live in the village and support it. The women of Lagada deserve to be mentioned too. Mothers, spouses, sisters and daughters of seamen kept their homes when the ‘man’ of the house travelled. Unfortunately many are in mourning since many seamen were lost in shipwrecks.
There are no organized beaches in the village but you can enjoy the beauty and the peacefulness of the landscape with the view of the island formation of Oinoussae. When you cross the sea front and go to the end of the port, you see Fanaraki, a pebble beach.
If you want to combine the smell of the salty seawater and the pines, you should go to Karidas, in the front of the village. The pines go literally up to the sea while in the little forest you will find wooden benches where you can rest. In Karida a small boatyard testifies the unbreakable relation between the inhabitants of Lagada and the sea. They still repair the boats of amateur fishermen there.
There are four small forests of pine trees and eucalyptus. These are: in Agios Giannis, the central church of the village, in the school, in Givari and in Karida, where the inhabitants who have been planting trees since 50s
The love and respect that the inhabitants show for the environment and the forests are proved by the fact that in the summer volunteers guard their forests.
Habits in the costume
The locals did not have a specific costume but they wore the islander breeches till the middle 50s. The women wore daily textiles and fakioli-a kerchief- while their formal costumes were the ‘kofta’.
But the fate of the village was to mourn since most of its habitants were and are seamen. Thus the previous decades most women were dressed in black. Contemporary inhabitants can remember that ‘the village went into mourning for a lifetime’. If a family mourned the whole village did. Thus if a family lost a relative, they stamped the windows with black boards, they covered the frames, the mirrors or they wore a black band. Even the black hem on the handkerchief showed the mourning of the family.
The village fairs
Agia Sophia’s fair, 17 th September
In the morning at the church, that is found at the sea front, after the Mass, home-made doughnuts are served, as well as ouzo and sweets. At night revelries with musical instruments take place.
Agios Giannis’s’ fair, 29 th August
In this fete, ouzo and traditional must-jelly of locust-bean , (what is this ????) of which the locals can find plenty, are served in the morning.
Agios Giannis in Kydianta, 24 th June
Fires are lit on the eve, while on the day of Agios Giannis the Klidonas custom revives. Once again ouzo and doughnuts are served. Also, on Good Friday morning, the ‘xenitemena paidia’ of Kydianta chant the Passion hymns without a priest.
Agia Anastasia, on Low Sunday
The locals, who are very religious, carry out Masses in every single church of the village.
So, on Low Sunday , they go up to Kydianta to Agia Anastasia’s Church on the north side of the village, where they use the rest of the fireworks so that the message of Christ’s Resurrection be heard to the ruined houses. The church has a beautiful icon screen and icons.
Agios Georgis in Koila
On the day of Aghios Georgios, the inhabitants of Lagada go to the Mass in the country church in Koila and serve the standard treats with ouzo.
The village celebrates many other fairs too such as Agia Aikaterini, on 5 th May, Agios Nektarios, on 9 th November, Michael and Gabriel, on 8 th November.
However, at Easter they celebrate in a special way. Besides the standard preparations with the red eggs and the Easter roast lamb, the young are feverishly prepared for their ‘bombs’.
On Easter Sunday, at about 11 o’clock in the morning, the locals explode the hand made bombs they have made in teams. The ‘bombs’ contain powder and they are tightly swathed with cords. For a better result they tight the cord on a tree! The bombs are properly decorated with timely slogans and flags of various teams etc. Before going to the church they all parade down the seacoast in order to see which team actually made the biggest bomb. The most boisterous bomb will be heard later on at the churchyard.
The language is comprehensible since there are not many idioms neither different words.
The old men use some idioms but the glossary of Lagada mostly has words that are used in other regions of Chios , too.
The locals’ occupation with the shipping and contacts with other countries had as an effect the embodiment of outlandish words in their vocabulary.
Lagada through the eyes of the artist Nikos Gialouris.
In the book ‘ Chios , to nisi ton anemon’, the painter, engraver and writer Nikos Gialouris also mentions Lagada. He describes the area using many images and details. The description of the landscape is so graphic, that you think you see a painting:
«….Λίγο πιο πέρα η Συκιάδα και πιο δυτικά η Κυδιάντα , παίζουνε κρυφτό πίσω από κάποιον εληώνα. Ύστερα πάλι βράχια μυτερά σαν από Βυζαντινά χειρόγραφα , θυμάρια κανένα γεωμετρικό χωραφάκι ή αμπέλι ντροπαλό ή δέντρο ξεμοναχιασμένο, υπομονετικό. Άλλο γύρισμα του δρόμου άλλο ξάφνιασμα.
Η Λαγκάδα το χωριό του Λαγκαδιού. Κάδρα από λαϊκούς τεχνίτες γύρω στο 1800 ή και πιο παλιά που ακόμα κρέμονται στα παλιά σπίτια των καραβοκύρηδων και εμπόρων παριστάνουνε μπρίκια, τρικάταρτα, γολέτες και λογής-λογής πλεούμενα του καιρού εκείνου. Στις γωνιές εκεί που δε φτάνει το κατσαρό κύμα με τους αφρούς από νερομπογιά ζωγραφίζουνε νησιά με μικρούτσικες πολιτείες που οι λεπτομέρειες και η ποικιλία τους μα και η αφέλειά τους είναι αμίμητες. Μια μικρογραφία μιας τέτοιας πολιτείας είναι και η Λαγκάδα απλωμένη σαν κέντημα ν’ αεριστεί. Έτσι δείχνει από ψηλά με δέντρα χάρτινα λες ανθρωπάκια που τρέχουνε, ψαρεύουν τεμπελιάζουν στην Προκυμαία ή πλένουν τα λιλιπούτεια καίκια. Μισό πέταλο από σπίτια λεύκες χωράφια καίκια βάρκες όλα χρωματιστά και χαρωπά. Στη θεατρικιά προκυμαία κάτω από τους ευκάλυπτους , τα καφενεία, το στέκι των αργόσχολων γρινιάρηδων ή χαρτοπαιχταράδων . Μαυροφόρες πολλές και πικραμένες μιλάνε ως τριγυρνάς στο χωριό, για το φόρο που πληρώνουν οι ταπεινοί, στη μανία των Μεγάλων, ώρες-ώρες. Κι εδώ, όλοι κατά το έμπα του κόρφου τραβάνε, κι εδώ η ζωή μετριέται σε δίμηνα το πολύ τρίμηνα ξεκούρασης βιαστικής κι ύστερα πάλι σε γράμματα ή σε σιωπές, μέρες και βδομάδες και μήνες.
Ένα μικρο ποτάμι, καλαμοντυμένο, σε καλοσωρίζει με τον καθρέπτη στο χέρι , την καλοκαιριά, όλο πικροδάφνες αστραφτερές με μολυβόνερα και συκιές ξεριζωμένες αν περάσεις χειμώνα. Πάστρα και περήφανο νοικοκυριό απ’ το δίπατο αρχοντόσπιτο ως τη χαμοκέλα την κουρνιασμένη στα ριζά του βράχου. Κι άνθρωποι το ίδιο περήφανα καθαροί και καλοστεκούμενοι. Κάπου, εδώ πάνω, φωλεύουν τα στοιχεία της Θάλασσας του Γυρισμού του Ανέμου, του Μισεμού και της Απαντοχής.
«Μίσεψες κι όρκον έκανα να μην ξαναγελάσω
κι από την άκρη του γιαλού να μην ξαναπεράσω» ……
Lagada through the eyes of the sightseers
There are many sightseers who described Lagada and the wider area. Indicatively, we chose the texts of two sightseers.
‘The island Chios ’, HUBERT PERNOT
I seldom see such a landscape, so dry and rocky, as the one extended from Daskalopetra to Lagada: a real desert full of rocks. In Lagada, along the deep port, we discovered some new houses which ‘touch’ the mountain. If the island had passable streets, this port could be of a great importance, even if it is near the city, due to the natural channel for the trade of north Chios . Unfortunately the link between Lagada and Kardamila will be only through paths difficult even for the donkeys to walk. In the summer they use the watercourse of a torrent that has osiers s and big oleanders on its banks as a street, but due to bad weather the communication is impossible.
FUSTEL DE COULANGES (1856)
A little further, the mountains reach the seashore and there is nothing else than steep and barren highs. The place where they built the village seems to be the highest and the steepest of all and they have built their houses on earthworks. It is not easy to produce wheat, figs and grapes for good wine. When you make the tour of the mountain of Lagada from the southwest you can see a nice port, from the north you can see two more and together the three are linked in a common bight that the Greeks name Kolokothia and the Italians Porto Fino. That is Delphini.