While in Mykonos and you want to visit another beautiful island not far away we recommend Naxos, the largest of the Cyclades. Verdosque, with majestic valleys and wide and white beaches, is a paradise for those who want to spend time relaxing and immersed in nature.

If you are looking for a place to relax, to enjoy the sun and the sea, or to indulge in nightlife, Naxos is the right place.

According to mythology, the god of wine Dionysus comes from Naxos and the ancient Greeks saw proof of this in the fact that the island is very fertile and prosperous. Because of the rich land, most of the inhabitants of Naxos work in agriculture. There are fishermen, but not as many as other islands, tourism in Naxos is an important source of income. Naxos women are famous for weaving, even if today it is no longer practiced. Naxos also has a special type of sand, used for making emery paper, which is exported to many countries in the world.

Depending on where you go, you can find yourself in a place equipped with all the comforts as well as a quiet village lifestyle.

History of Naxos

Many myths in Greece speak of Naxos. Zeus, the most powerful Greek god, was born in Crete, but grew up in Naxos. The people of Naxos have always loved it, and a temple in his honor was built on the mountain Za. When Semele, a lover of Zeus, dies, before giving birth to their child, Zeus takes the embryo and puts it back in his thigh. When the child, Dionysus, is born from the thigh of Zeus, the nymphs Philia, Coronida and Clidi will take him to the island, which will remain the favorite of Dionysus. The god will make it fertile and full of vines, blessing it forever.

Another myth concerns Arianna, the daughter of King Minos of Crete. Having helped Theseus to kill the Minotaur, for fear of his father he flees with the hero. On Naxos it falls asleep and Theseus abandons it. When Dionysus sees her he falls in love with her and Arianna become his bride. According to another version of mythology, abandoned Ariadne commits suicide by jumping off a cliff in Chora. Naxos was, from 4000 to 1100 A.D. a central place for the Cyclades. The capital has always been Naxos (Chora), which in ancient times was also called Calliopolis (the best city). It is thought that the island derived this name from the first king who ruled it: Naxos, but has been called by different names throughout its history: Dia (“Zeus”), Stroggyli and Dionysias. It always had close ties with Santorini and Halkida and together they founded the Naxos colony in Sicily, in 734 BC. The island was very famous for the sculptures made here, among the most famous the Lions of Delos.

In 501 A.D. Naxos was threatened by the Persians but managed to keep them away. Only 11 years later the Persians will succeed in conquering it. In 479, Avanti Naxos Naxos becomes a member of the Deli League that he will abandon in 466. The island becomes a vassal state of Athens until the city is defeated by the Persians during the Peloponnesian War. Naxos has often fallen into the hands of the great neighboring states, still under the Athenians, then under the Macedonians, under the Egyptians, and finally under Rhodes.

In 41 BC the island was conquered by the Romans. When the Venetians invaded the Cyclades, Naxos fought for forty days at the Byzantine cast of Apalyrou, but the islanders were eventually defeated and Naxos became the capital of the Duchy of the Aegean under the leadership of the Venetian Marco Sanudo in 1207. The duke himself he built a fortress on the island. The Venetian government lasted for 300 years. In 1564 the island was invaded by the Turks, but they were limited to collecting taxes. The Venetian period was the one that left the strongest mark of its presence on the island, proof of which there are still many Catholics today. In May 1821 Naxos was released.

What to see in Naxos

The characteristic image of Naxos is the large door that is just outside Chora. The inhabitants of the island call it Portara (the great gate) and is the most photographed point of the island. The door was built in the sixth century before Christ by order of the tyrant Legdames. It must have been a temple dedicated to Apollo, but the construction was abandoned when the war between Naxos and Samos broke out. Subsequently, the Christians built a church on top of the unfinished temple. The best time to visit the portal is in the evening, when you can admire a fantastic sunset. From here you can also see Paros. Some parts of the temple were used to build the castle in Chora.

The castro dominates the old city and all the small streets of the center lead to it.

The archaeological museum of Naxos is worth a visit. It is located at the commercial school and used to be used by Catholic monks as a school. The famous Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis (Zorba the Greek, the last temptation of Christ) lived here for a while.

The Metropolitan Church of Agios Nicodemus and Nectarius was built in 1780-87, using materials from the ancient temple. It possesses an invaluable copy of the New Testament which, according to tradition, was donated to the church by Catherine of Russia. The church of Agia Kyriaki was the place where, during the Turkish rule, the school was hidden. Just outside the village of Galanado stands the Belonia tower. Near it there is the church of San Giovanni, which is half Orthodox and half Catholic .

Windmills stand out in the sky at the village of Vivlos or Tripodes. In Prompona, a good local wine is worth tasting. At the village of Ano Sagri there is the monastery of Agia Eletheriou, also secretly used as a school during the Turkish rule. There is another monastery dedicated to St. John, whose excavations indicate that it was, in the sixth century before Christ, a temple dedicated to the goddess Demeter. You can also visit the Castro of Apalyrou.

The village Apiranthos is called a marble village, because many buildings and streets here are made of marble. It has very beautiful buildings, and you can go to the 17th-century tower of Zevgoli and the Bardani tower. There is also a small museum with many archaeological finds and excavations in the eastern part of the island.

If you love climbing, Za’s mountain (Zeus) is the right place. You can also take a two-hour walk to the ruins of the Fotoides monastery. The Byzantine capital of Naxos was Halci, where you can still see some Venetian castles, and the oldest lemon distillery on the island. At the village Moni you can visit the monastery of the Virgin Mary with its ancient frescoes. The village Koronida or Komiaki is the highest village on the island, built 700 meters above sea level. The Apollona village has remains of an ancient temple dedicated to Apollo, with a ten-meter statue lying on the ground. From Galini you can go to the monastery of the High Virgin Mary, (tis Ypsiloteras of Panagias) also called Tower of Agelakopoulou, the surname of the last owner. In the 17th century it was a monastery. Here, the people of Naxos fought against both the Venetians and the pirates. Near Agios Arsenios there is a seventeenth century monastery dedicated to St. John, as well as the oldest church on the island: Agia Mamas, of the ninth century After Christ.

In addition to all the places to visit, there are various water sports offered at the beaches. If you like to fish, you will not be the only ones. It is also a good idea to try to take a boat for trips to nearby islands. A boat trip to Paros is definitely unmissable for those interested in history and archeology as it is dotted with ancient ruins.

Naxos Beaches

Naxos is the ideal place for a beach holiday. Many claim it has the best beaches in Greece, and there are both pebble and sandy beaches. Basically there are so many places to go, that you should explore them on your own. Among the most popular places there is Agia Anna and also Agia Georgios. There is also a beach in Chora if you do not want to leave the city. Most nudists go to Plaka.

The south coast is the calmest, if it’s a windy day it’s the best place to go. Most of the beaches are connected by good roads, except those to the north and south. Surfers prefer Mikris Viglas or Azala. Families with children can go to the Sahara beach, where they can also practice various water sports.

Nightlife in Naxos

Naxos nightlife is quite varied, with bars and clubs planning Greek or foreign music. Most parties are set in Chora, but Agia Anna is busy during the high season. Expect beach parties !!!

Enjoy your visit!! 🙂

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