Naxos Island

Naxos is the largest and most fertile island of the Cyclades with an area of approximately 430 square km and a coastline of 148 km, is located in the center of the Aegean. Here one can find many different landscapes with high mountains, fertile plains, beaches ideal for swimming and water sports. The mountain with the highest peak in the Cyclades, Mount Zas (1001 meters) range across the island from north to south. By maintaining its own identity Naxos combines historical and cultural interest.

Read more about Naxos: Naxos of the Past | Contemporary Naxos | Suggested Itineraries

Naxos of the Past

The island of Naxos has a prominent place in ancient culture, exemplified by the numerous archaeological findings that are scattered on the island. According to mythology, Zeus himself was raised in Naxos island and especially worshiped together with Apollo. However, the most famous legend ia associated with Dionysus and Ariadne. According to him, Theseus abandoned Ariadne on Naxos, who earlier had helped him to face the Minotaur. Archaeological finds indicate human presence on the island since the Neolithic era and, more specifically, from the fourth millennium BC. The Cycladic culture occurs in the early 3rd millennium BC and marked by the famous Cycladic figurines. Moreover, the island of Naxos is significantly influenced by the Minoan (after 1900 BC) and the Mycenaean civilization (until the end of the 11th century BC.). In the 8th century. BC,the island participated in the large colonization in East and West, and in cooperation with Chalcis founded the first Greek colony in Sicily, which was named Naxos. In the 6th century. BC, the tyrant Lygdamis (with the help of the Athenian tyrant Pisistratus) occupied the power and contributed to the economic and artistic prosperity of Naxos, when some of the most important monuments such as the famous island Portara (the "trademark" of island)were built. The island had a strong presence until the Byzantine period, when the decline of the byzantine naval force contributed to the Venetian expansion, resulting in 1207 (three years after the conquest of Constantinople by the Franks during the fourth crusade) the diplomat Marco Sanudo to conquer the island of Naxos. Once he captured the other Greek islands, he founded in the early 13th century the Duchy of the Aegean, based in Naxos. During the Venetian occupation many castles and mansions were built. In 1537, the invasion of the famous pirate Barbarossa C. in the Aegean gave to Turks the custody of Naxos until the Greek Revolution of 1821. In 1930, Naxos has been incorporated in the newly created Greek state and it followed the course of modern Greek history since.

Contemporary Naxos

Naxos is the most fertile island of Cyclades. Its products are known throughout Greece for their excellent quality, showing that the island is - as the locals say - a blessed place.
In the south of Naxos, in the the fertile valleys of the hinterland they produce large quantities of potatoes, the famous Naxos agricultural product as well as fruits and vegetables.
In the north the villages are built on the slopes and in the vineyards they produce the "nectar of the gods" as they call the famous wine. Naxos is famous for its olive oil production. On the island over 400,000 olive trees are planted, of which 200,000 are in the basin of Tragaia.
In the mountains hundreds of goats and sheeps are raised, while the cows are raised mainly in lowland. From their milk the famous Naxos cheeses are made: graviera, kefalotyri, xynotyro and xynomyzithra.
And because the locals are famous for fun and music tradition, they could only accompany the festivities, apart from the local wine and their local citrus liqueur from the distillation of the leaves of citron, cultivated only in the fertile lands of Naxos.
Naxos has also great mineral wealth such as the emery and the marble, which are internationally recognized for their quality.
Naxos tradition is still alive. In every village there are cultural clubs which are trying to hold the population in the villages and to maintain the rich musical and dance tradition.
The music and dance in Naxos is a vibrant lifestyle that comes from the past and kept alive until today. The syrtos, the ball with the folk instruments of the violin, the lute and the tzampouna is danced in weddings, festivals and events trying to preserve the traditional music.
Naxos has developed in recent decades the image of a modern tourist resort. A variety of activities are offered to the visitors:
The beaches are mainly spread in the southern part of the island in an area of 25 km and they give the opportunity to practice water sports such as windserfing, kitesurfing, sailing, diving or beach volley.
Naxos has beautiful mountain trails. The dozens of trails that traverse Naxos lead to beautiful places, many of which are only accessible via walking paths. Trekking, hiking and cycling  are proposed to the visitor.

Suggested Itineraries

1. Country-Galanado-Sagri-Chalki-Moni-Filoti-Danakos-Apiranthos-Koronos-Apollo-Engares / Galini - Country

Country

The most important monuments of the capital city are: The Portara built on the small island "Palatia" on the edge of the harbor. It is a gigantic and majestic gate of a temple dedicated to Apollo which was built in the 6th century, the era of the tyrant Lygdami when Naxos was a great navy, commercial and cultural center. The archaeological site of Grotta: Below the cathedral square, excavations have revealed part of the Mycenaean city of Naxos (1200 BC). The area  is open to the public.The Castle is an impressive monument built during the long Venetian rule (1204 - 1537), located on a hill which is the natural acropolis of Hora. The building  has the form of a medieval city with the outside walls of the regional houses forming the walls of the castle. Within the castle there is the museum which presents the findings from the prehistoric period to the early Byzantine period (4th millennium BC - 6th century AD.). The museum is housed in the old Commercial School (built in the 17th century), located within the Castle.

Galanado

Tower of Belonia: A typical example of a Venetian tower, linked to the period of the venetian rule. The Venetian towers are built of Naxian stone. They are not whitewashed and they haven’t  any other coating which makes them become one with the landscape. They are multi-storey and they have ramparts, battlements, machicolations and large and solid doors that make the tower impregnable.

Sagri

Demeter's Temple: The temple of Gyroyla near the village Sagri, was the religious center of a predominantly rural area and was devoted to the worship of the goddess Demeter, and Apollo. The church is dated to the 6th century BC and it was full (including the roof) made of white marble. Today the restoration work  has been completed  and a museum exhibition is open.

Chalki

The Virgin Protothroni (9th - 10th cent.) it is the biggest Byzantine church in Naxos. The church is of great interest for the successive layers of murals. It operates from early Christian times until today.

Monastery

Our Lady Drosiani is an important monument of early Christian period. We distinguish three phases. The oldest layer of murals is dated at the 7th century.

Filoti

The largest village on the island. A modern living organism has nothing to envy from the country.
Chimaros tower is a remarkable Hellenistic tower, built with local monoliths (4th - 3rd century BC.).
The cave of Za is on the west side of mount Zas, at an altitude of 628 meters inhabited during the Neolithic period. According to legend there lived the father of the gods, Zeus.

Danakos The Monastery of Christ Fotodoti

The fortified monastery of Christ Fotodoti outside the village Danakos, with very particular architectural elements, is dated in Byzantine times. The legend says that is was built by a byzantine princess.

Apiranthos

The marble village. Traditional village, is a synthesis of Venetian and Cycladic elements. There are also four small museums: archaeological, geological, natural history and folklore.

Koronos

The traditional village which is built between the mountains  Koronos and Ammomaxi, cis haracterised by its backstreets and its many steps.

Apollo

The northern fishing village of the island.
Near the village of Apollo at the entrance of an ancient quarry, an unfinished "Kouros"(male statue) is lying on the ground, from which he was never detached, The statue is 10.45 meters high, depicting Dionysus or Apollo, and dates to the beginning of the 6th century.

The convent and the tower of Agia

The monastery of Agia is built in the north of the island at an altitude of 220 meters. In the courtyard there is a water source surrounded by huge trees. About 150 m above the monastery stands the Tower of Agia (17th cent.) destroyed recently by fire. The tower is visible from the coastal road linking the town with Apollonas village.

Virgin Ypsilotera

It is a monastery-fortress, built between the village Galini and the sea. It was founded in 1600 by the greek Orthodox James Kokkos  and it has been a base and shelter for local farmers, during the battles against the Franks.

2. Iria - Sagri - Potamia - Melanes

Iria - Dionysus' sanctuary

The Temple of Iria (6th century BC), 10 miles south of the country, there was the formal sanctuary of the city of Naxos and was dedicated to Dionysus. The temple is visible and  restored.

Sagri - Demeter Temple

The building dates to the years of the tyrant of Naxos Lygdamis (about 530 BC) and it s part of the ambitious building program, similar to that of the Athenian friend Pisistratus. The great value of this finding is that this is a rare full-marble temple, which preserved the ancient material in excess of 50%.

Potamia

It is a village rich in natural beauty, natural stone features hiking trails. Interesting is walking to the fort Apano Castle.

Melanes - Flerio

The region has rich water sources, which now feed the rich vegetation of the area. During antiquity an aqueduct length of 11 kilometers, a major engineering project with many phases, was carrying water to the city of Naxos, ensuring the water supply. Already during the initial construction it has had to preserve the mountain north of the valley Flerio by digging a tunnel for maximum exploitation of the water, with distribution in all the fertile areas along the route to the city. At a sanctuary near the quarries and the ancient source worshiped a goddess of fertility and the protectors of the quarry were worshiped. At the same time at the ancient quarry there are left in the position by ancient craftsmen, two unfinished Kouros. The named "Greek", has a supernatural size (6.4 meters) and it is the work of the 7th century BC.