Naxos Island

Sights & places to visit

Naxos is the largest island of the Cyclades and during the ancient times it was the center of the archaic Cycladic culture. Its capital Naxos Town is called Hora in the Greek language with an approximate population of 8,000. Naxos is a very popular destination, as it has beautiful long sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. The excellent infrastructure and the easy access by ferry or airplane, makes the island and ideal destination, especially during the summer, since it perfectly combines the advantages of amazing beaches with beautiful, picturesque mountainous villages.

The local cuisine is excellent, mainly because of the rich local agricultural production. There are innumerable taverns and restaurants all over the island that serve fresh fish, delicious local meat and poultry, seafood and excellent cheese. Naxos also produces superb wine. Naxos is also perfect for practicing water sports. In addition, by chartering a sailing boat or a water taxi you can tour the island and explore all of its secluded bays, beaches and caves. The island is popular for family holidays, but also for younger people, since its night life is vigorous!

Naxos Town (Hora)

Naxos Town has all the typical Cycladic characteristics: narrow picturesque streets, small boxy white houses with beautiful front yards, numerous folk art and jewelry stores, galleries, bars, taverns with local and Mediterranean cuisine, clubs and cafes by the water.

When the boat reaches the cosmopolitan island of Naxos and the harbor of Naxos Town, you will be able to see the ever famous “Portara” (great door), the Venetian Castle on top of the hill and the numerous sailing boats in the port. You will then realize that this is not like any other Cycladic island. Gifted by nature and blessed by history, this place shall seduce you in a journey of captivating natural beauty, insular aesthetics and traditional mentality.

Sights of Naxos Island

Portara & the Venetian Castle

Portara
Portara is situated on a small rocky island on the fringe of the harbour and it is the monument which makes the most impression on the visitors,having become the island trademark. The Portara, as it's called, was put in place around 520 B.C. by a tyrant named Lygdamis, and was to be a suitably grand entrance to the greatest temple to Apollo in all Greece. But Lygdamis was overthrown in 506, the temple was left unfinished, and 2,000 years later it was still being plundered for its marble.

Venetian Castle (Kastro)
Border tower protecting the fortress (Kastro) of Sanoudos in Chora, Naxos. The wall surrounding the fortress is pentagonal and has three gates. The Glezos tower (Krispi) stands near the northwestern gate and extends in part along the western and northern side of the fortress (Castro). It has four levels (floors) and it is the only tower in Naxos that has also a round tower attached to it. In 1207 Frankish rule was established in the Aegean. The Venetian Markos II Sanoudos built the fortress of Chora in Naxos with circuit towers, one of which, the Glezos tower (Crispi) is still preserved. Over the main entrance to the tower is the coat-of arms of the Crispi family.In the centre of the castle settlement there is a square with the Catholic Cathedral,the school Ursuline nuns,the Kappela Kazatza and the business school where the famous Greek novelist Nikos Kazantzakis studied for a year. Nowadays the Archaeological Museum of Naxos is housed in this building.

Sights of Naxos Island

The Old Town, Panagia Drossiani Church

The Old Town
Outside the castle area there are developed two other settlements. Bourgo, on the western side of the hill near the sea, with its Orthodox Cathedral and Nio Horio (New Village), originally inhabited by Cretans, as well as a Jewish quarter nearby. The need for some kind of defense against enemy attacks, a prudent use of the limited available space and the durability of the local building materials determined the way the houses of the ordinary people were built not only in Hora but also in the villages.In the traditional settlements the houses are adjoined to each other, with small courtyards. These houses were often extended over the next door house or over the street, creating the "stegasta" (sheltered streets), a distinctive feature of the streets of Naxos. The streets paved with slabs of stone are very narrow; they are usually less than 2 m wide. Nowadays, the same narrow streets of Hora are full of life and colour and visitors can enjoy shopping facilities, night entertaiment, tradiotional food and music, etc

Panagia Drossiani
The church is near the village of Moni in the area of Tragaia, Naxos. It is an Early Christian, tri-apsidal church with a dome. Three single-room chapels are incorporated along the northern side. The interior wall surfaces have wall paintings of various phases.The earliest layer of wall paintings, which dates to the end of the 6th and beginning of the 7th centuries has been revealed in the dome, the sanctum and in the northern apse. The latest layer on both dome and apse is datable to the 13th and 14th centuries; it has been removed from the wall. The church was probably originally the Katholikon of the Monastery. Later on, information about the Drosiane is given by the Duke of the Aegean Sea, Ioannes IV Crispos (1555) and others. In addition, benedictory inscriptions of the 6th and 7th centuries are preserved on the walls. The church was restored in 1964. Cleaning of the wall paintings and removal of the most recent layers has been carried out over the years 1964 - 1971.