Naxos is an island in Greece that has something to offer to everyone
.Whether you are looking for a place to relax, enjoy the sea and the sun,
or somebody who wants to see and do as much as possible, or just party:
Naxos is the greenest and largest of the Cycladic islands and very
different from its neighbouring islands. The uniqueness of Naxos is due
to its varied landscape. It is an island with imposing mountains,
verdant plateaux and valleys, rivers and springs, caves and large sandy
beaches backed by sand dunes and cedar trees. It is one of the most
visited islands by tourists and island hoppers and consequently has a
good infrastructure to support these visitors. It is not however spoilt
by tourism as much of the main tourist market is focused only on Naxos
Town (Chora) and its surrounding area. Agriculture and husbandry are
still an important aspect of the local economy. According to mythology, the wine god Dionysus
came from Naxos, and the ancient Greeks saw proof of this in the fact that
it is a lush and fertile island. Because of the rich soil, most people
from Naxos are involved with agriculture. There are fishermen, but not as
many as on other islands.
Tourism is also a major source of income and
especially Scandinavians visit this island. The women of Naxos are famed
for their weaving, even though this practice is not so common any
Naxos also has a special kind of sand that is used in making sand
paper, and it is exported to many countries around the world.
Depending on where you stay, you can either end up in a place with all the facilities
you need, or in a village where the pace is slow
Naxos History Many myths in Greece involve Naxos as some point. Zeus,
the highest god, was born on Crete, but grew up on Naxos. The people of
Naxos used to worship him, and a temple was made to his honour at the
mountain Za (Zeus).
died before giving birth to their child, Zeus
took the embryo and put it in his thigh. When the baby, Dionysus,
was born out of Zeus
thigh on Naxos, the nymphs
Philia, Coronida and Clidi brought him up on the island, which was to be Dionysus
favourite island. The god made the island fertile and full of grapevines,
forever blessing it.
Another myth is about Ariadne,
the daughter of king Minos
of Crete. She had helped Theseus
kill the Minotaur,
and out of fear for her father, she fled with the hero. On Naxos she fell
left her and when Dionysus
saw her, he made her his wife. According to another version she committed
suicide by jumping off a cliff in Chora.
Naxos was a centre for the Cyclades islands from 4000 to 1100 BC. The
capital has always been Naxos (Chora), but it used to be called
Calliopolis ('the best city") in ancient years. The island supposedly
got its current name after the first ruler: king Naxos, but it has had
different names through history: Dia ("Zeus"), Stroggyli
("round") and Dionysias. It held tights bonds with Santorini and
Halkida, and together they founded the colony Naxos on Sicily in 734 BC.
The island was well known for the sculptures that were made here. One of
the best known works are the lions on Delos.
In 501 BC Naxos was threatened by the Persians but managed to keep them
away. Eleven years later the Persians succeeded in invading the island. In
479 BC Naxos became a member of the Delian League but left it in 466BC.
The island became a vassal state to Athens until the city was defeated by
the Spartans during the Peloponnesian War.
Naxos was to fall under many great states; once again under the Athenians,
then the Macedonians, after that the Egyptians and finally it fell under
Rhodes' power. In 41 BC the island was conquered by the Romans.
When the Venetians invaded the Cyclades islands in Greece ,Naxos fought for forty days at
the Byzantine castro Apalyrou, but the islanders were finally defeated and
was made center for the The Aegean Duchy under the Venetian Marcus Sanudos
in 1207. The duke himself made a strong fortress and the Venetian rule
lasted for 300 years. In 1564 the island was invaded by the Turks, but
they basically just collected taxes from then on. The Venetian Rule was to
be the main rule, which can be seen in the fact that there still are quite
a few Catholics on the island. In May 1821 Naxos was liberated.
What to See-The most
characteristic image of Naxos is the great gate just outside Chora. The
locals call it the Portara - the great door, and it is the most
photographed spot on the island (see logo above). The gate was built in
the 6th century BC by order of the tyrant Legdames. It was to be a temple
to the god Apollo, but the building was abandoned when war broke out
between Naxos and Samos. Later, Christians built a church on top of the
unfinished temple.A very good time to go to the gate is in the evening
when you will get to see a fantastic sunset. You can also see Paros from
Parts of the temple was also used to build the
Castro in Chora. The Castro
is dominating the Old town, all its little streets lead to it. The
archaeological museum of Naxos here is well worth a visit. It is
located at the commercial school and used to be a place where catholic
monks had a school. The famous Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis (Zorba the
Greek , The last Temptation of Christ ) stayed here for a while.
The Metropolitan church of Ag Nicodemus and Nectarius was built 1780-87
which was built partly with ancient remains. It hold a priceless New
Testament which was given to the church by Catherine of Russia according
The church of Ag Kyriaki used to be where the hidden school was held
during the Turkish rule. Just outside the village Galanado stands the
Tower of Belonia. Next to it is the church of St John, which is half
Catholic, half Orthodox. At the village Vivlos or Tripodes stand
windmills. In Prompona a good local wine is worth a try.
At the village Ano Sagri is the monastery of Ag Eletheriou, which used to
be a hidden school during the Turkish rule. Another monastery is dedicated
to St. John, and here excavations indicate that there used to be a 6th
century BC temple to the goddess Demeter
here. You can also visit the Castro of Apalyrou.
The village Apiranthos is also called the marble village, since many
buildings and streets here are made of marble. It has many beautiful
buildings, and you can go to the tower of Zevgoli from the 17th century
and the tower of Bardani. There is also a small museum here with various
findings from the east part of the island. You should also try the local
At the village Flerio there is a 7th century statue lying on the ground.
It is a kouros, or boy, with a height of 6,40 meters. If you want to climb
the Za (Zeus) mountain this is the place to start. You can also take a two
hour walk from here to the ruins of the monastery Fotoides. The Byzantine
capital of Naxos was Halci, and there are still venetian castles there as
well as the oldest lemon distillery of the island.
At the village Moni you can visit the monastery of the Virgin Mary with
its old wallpaintings. The village Koronida or Komiaki is the highest
village on the island, built at 700 meters above the sea level. The
village Apollona has the remains of an ancient temple to Apollo,
with a ten meter statue lying on the ground.
From Galini you can go to the monastery of the Virgin Mary (Panagias
tis Ypsiloteras) which is also called Tower of Agelakopoulou, which was
the surname of the last owner. In the 17th century this was a monastery.
From here, the people of Naxos fought both Venetians and pirates. Close to
Agios Arsenios is a 17th century monastery to St John as well as the
oldest church on the island: Ag Mamas from the 9th century.
The first thing
any visitor sees when arriving by sea to Naxos Town is the magnificent
marble gate, a megalithic 6th century BC portal of Apollo's Temple,
known as Portara. It stands on a narrow strip of land on the islet of
Paltia, also called the Baths of Ariadne. In Naxos Town there is an
extremely interesting archaeological museum at Cathedral Square which
displays ruins and artefacts excavated from the ancient Agora of Naxos.
The impressive 13th century Venetian castle that dominates the town was
built on the site of the ancient acropolis. The castle contains the
Catholic Cathedral with a double faced 12th century icon and a museum
that has a significant collection of early Cycladic marble idols. There
is also a Byzantine museum and a Venetian House museum as well as many
mansions with beautiful marble coats of arms where some of the ancestors
of the original Venetians still live. In the area of Grotta in Naxos
Town is the ancient Mycenaean city.
Part of this city is now under water but you can still see some of the
ruins of it.
Inside Naxos Town there are interesting monuments and
archaeological sites to visit. The most important of these are ancient
marble quarries at Melanes and Apollon. Here the visitor can see the
partially carved remains of statues of young men, The Kouroi. The
largest of these is Apollon Kouros which is four times life size. It is
thought that these statues which were begun in the 7th century BC were
not finished due to flaws in the stone. In the Eggares region it is
possible to visit the remains of Mycenaean tombs.
On the east of the island is a fertile valley. Here you will find the
remains of the 6th century BC Temple of Demeter, close to the pretty
little cobbled village of Ano Sangri. Also here is the refurbished
Bazeos Tower which was built in the early 17th century AD. Originally a
monastery it now hosts exhibitions and concerts during the summer
months. Also at the village of Sangri are some very well-preserved
windmills and several Venetian castles that are worthwhile to visit. In
the area of Livadi are the four temples of Dionysus which are thought to
have been constructed in 9th-8th centuries BC, This archaeological site,
known as the Iria Ancient Site, is one of the best archaeological sites
on the island. Visit, too, the beautiful 17th century Zevgoli castle
which perches on a rock at the entrance to the village of Apirathos.
Another famous sight of Naxos are its towers, known as Pyrgi. There are
around 30 of these structures and they are the
remains of fortified manor houses built between the 15th and 18th
centuries AD. Particularly interesting ones can be seen near the
villages of Filoti and Melanes and also at Chora Naxos, Halki, Galanado
and Sangri. There are many very old churches dotted all over the island
such as the spectacular 11th century Aghioi Apostoloi and Aghios
Diassoritis which has one of the best preserved 12th century frescos.
There are also many wonderful caves to see. Especially amazing is the
Cave of Za which is dedicated to Zeus and contains some fantastic
stalagmites. It is thought that the cave has been used since prehistoric
times due to the fact that prehistoric remains have been found inside
What to Do
:Apart from all the places to visit, there are various water sports
offered at the beaches. If you like fishing, you will find you're not the
only one here. It is also a good idea to try and get on a daytrip to one
of the neighboring islands. A boat trip to Delos is definitely a must for
people interested in history and archaeology since it is covered with
Naxos is the perfect place for a beach holiday. Many believe it has the
best beaches in Greece and there are both sand and pebble beaches..
Basically, there are so many places to go that you just should explore it
yourself. Amongst the most popular places are Agia Anna and Ag Georgios.
There is also a beach in Chora if you don't want to leave the town. Most
nudists go to Plaka. The southern coast is the calmest, so if it is a
windy day that's the best place to go. Most beaches are connected with
good roads, except the ones in the north and south. Sufers prefer Mikris
Viglas or Azala. Families with children are recommended to go to Sahara
Beach, where there also is a variety of water sports offered. Kastraki is
excellent for picnicking.
Nighttlife:Naxos nightlife is quite
varied, with both bars and clubs playing Greek or foreign music. Most of
the partying goes on in Chora, but during high season Ag Anna also gets
quite busy. Beach parties are to be expected!!!.
Food-There are many choices of restaurants on the
island of Naxos, especially in Chora. Although the taverns in the harbour are very nice, you should
also walk around and bit and discover the lovely little places in the
side streets. Try the local wine and lemon liqueur!!!
Shopping: Since ancient times Naxos
has produced extremely fine wines, known as 'the Nectar of the Gods'. In
Greek mythology it was the island of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine. The
local meat of beef and goat is delicious due to the animals being reared in
their natural environment. The milk that comes from these animals is used to
produce the famous Naxos cheeses, for example, Graviera, Sour cheese, sour
Myzithra, Anthotyro and Kefalotiri which are all outstanding in quality and
flavour. The island also produces top-quality citrus fruits, (from which the
famous citron liqueur (kitro) is made), olive oil, potatoes and grapes.
Unusually for a Greek island, Naxos Town hosts a morning market outside the
Agricultural Bank where local fruit and vegetables can be bought. In Naxos you can buy cloths and
broidery, copies of the Cycladic figures, olive oil, cheese, honey, wine and lemon
liqueur. You can also get antiques and icons, but anything older than 1821 can not be exported without a special permit. You can also get
leatherwear, rugs, clothes and jewellery.
Getting Around In Naxos there
is a quite good bus network as well as taxis, car and bike rentals. The
roads of Naxos are surprisingly good for a Greek island. The buses can
take you to most of the villages and beaches of the island.
Getting There :There are
frequent ferries leaving from Piraeus throughout the summer months. The
time taken from Piraeus is around 6 hours or 3-4 hours on the high-speed
ferry. The Flying Dolphins and the Catamarans also go to Naxos from Piraeus and
take around 4 hours. There is also a small airport where there are daily
flights from Athens and flights to and from Crete or
Santorini. The flight normally takes
around 30 minutes from Athens. There are boat connections from Naxos to
Paros as well.
|Facts about Naxos*
|| Phone numbers*
| Size: 448 sq km
||International code: 0030
|Population: about 18 000
||Local code: 22850
|Cash machine: Yes
||Health center: 23333, 23550
|Internet cafe: Yes
||Police : 22100
|Highest Mountain: Za (Zeus) 1004m
||Port police: 22939
||Local Buses (KTEL):22291
|Tour Operators: Argo, Apollo, Ving
||Taxi: Naxos 22444, Koronida 81231
||Local Airport: 23292