In the centre of the sea roads of the Aegean Sea, there is a big island, with imposing mountainous volumes and fertile valleys, which is inhabited by charming people, with a tradition in music and dance. This is Naxos, an island full of beauties that will enchant its visitors.
With an extent of 448 sq. kilometres and 20.000 residents, Naxos is the biggest and most fertile island of the Cyclades. Long-lasting history, important monuments and intense tourist life, render it unique among the other Cycladic islands. No matter how many days your visit lasts in Naxos, there will always be hidden corners for you to discover, beaches that you will not have visited, towers and castles that you will not have managed to see and traditional settlements unvisited yet.
In the market of Hora the visitor will find all the local products, traditional art (garments, baskets, and ceramics), jewellery, and many restaurants to taste the rich local dishes. In the well known beaches of the south-western coast, with kilometres of golden sandy coasts, you will enjoy the sun and the sea. As long as for night entertainment, there are places for each age and preference in Hora.
Apart from the beaches and sights, Naxos is famous for its mountainous villages, diamonds of traditional architecture, local customs and authentic hospitality.
The impressive alternations of landscape in combination with the possibilities that the island offers for all kinds of activity, render Naxos an island that covers needs and wishes of every visitor.
Hora is the capital and harbour of the island, built in the place of the ancient city, in the middle of the western coast of the island. White Cycladic houses, old stone mansions, narrow streets and arches are the characteristics of the settlement that unfolds around the medieval castle of Sanoudos.
The medieval city included the wall – the exterior walls of regional houses, the palace of the Duke, the mansions of the noble located around the palace and twelve towers. It had three entries, and in the one of them (Trani Porta), the wooden door is still saved today.
Out of the medieval city the tower of Sanoudos, the mansion Delaroka-Barotsi, the building of the school of Oursoulines, the metropolis of the Catholics, and the commercial school of the Jesuits -where the Archaeological Museum is today accommodated with rich discoveries from the Neolithic period up to the early Christian years-are also preserved. The view from the castle is magical. Out of the castle two later settlements were developed. Bourgo is placed on the west, with the most affluent residents, and Nio to the south.
Portara is a characteristic trait of the island, an enormous marble gate, from the temple of Apollo, that began to be manufactured on the 6th century B.C. and was never completed. Today it is visible from far, it dominates on the island Palatia which is linked with the harbour with a narrow strait, and welcomes you to Naxos.
Apollo, in the northern coasts of the island, is a beautiful fishing village with a long beach. Here, in antiquity there were marble quarries. In the entry of one of them, you will find the largest Kouros of the island, of 10,45 metres from the 6th century B.C. The statue is laid down and is half sculpted. One more kouros is found at Flerio.
In the middle of the street between Filoti and Danakos you will meet the church of Agia Marina, from where the path for the top of the famous mountain Za begins, the tallest mountain of the Cyclades (1004 m.). The view from here is fascinating, since it embraces Naxos and all its surrounding Cycladic islands. At the north-western slopes of the mountain you will find the cave of Za, with clusters of stalagmites.
From Tsikalario, in the centre of island, a path that leads to the ancient Apano Kastro begins.View from the top is astonishing.
Melanes is yet another jewel of Naxos, built in a fertile region, with many running waters and old watermills. In the region around it, the rural tower of Mark Sanoudos is found as well as the towers of Mayrogenis, Fragkopoulos and De Mari who was the feudal lord of the region.
The spring of Agas
Among the sights of Hora the spring of Agas is a bit outside the settlement, a unique reminder of Turkish sovereignty in the island.
The next stop is Apeirathos, the jewel of mountainous Naxos, built on the slopes of a mountain in an altitude of 600 meters. T’ Aperanthou- as the locals call it- impresses you from the very first moment. Venetian towers, beautiful old two-storied houses, marble streets with arches, picturesque squares with cafes and a poetic disposal of the local, create an atmosphere that we seldom meet in parts of so much tourism development.
Apeirathos distinguishes from other villages of Naxos in its local dialect and customs, since its residents came from the mountainous villages of Crete on the 17th century. Impressive is the tower of Zeygoli (17th cent.), built on a rock in the entry of the village. Three very interesting museums deserve your visit: the archaeological, the geological and the folklore. In the wider region there are appreciable Byzantine churches.
Sagri, is built in a fertile plateau with picturesque windmills, and has a long history. In the village you can visit its Venetian towers and its Byzantine churches.
The museum hosts important discoveries, mainly from excavations in Naxos and the surrounding islands, which are dated to late Neolithic Period up to the early Christian years. The Historical Archive of Naxos is accommodated in a separate part of the building.
In the square of the metropolitan temple of Naxos, functions a unique museum in Greece and one of the few in its type in the world. In the square and in the underground space one can see discoveries of excavations of the 1980s. A part of the walls of the city from the Mycenaean period is maintained in good condition. In its base you can distinguish small workshops of vessels manufacturing, benches with unprepared vessels etc. At the Geometric period the space changed use and became a place of rituals. There was thus created an earth tomb, that covered graves of important people of Naxos. Other parts of the ancient city were discovered in the place “Grota” in the north of the harbour, while a big part is found under the surface of the sea.
Archaeological Museum Gyroula
It is found in the archaeological site of the temple of Dimitra in Sagri.
Archaeological museum of Apeirathos
It mainly accommodates discoveries from various regions of the island, figurines and vessels of the early Cycladic period. Plates with representations from daily life and from activities of the locals are also included in the exhibits.
Geological museum of Apeirathos
Creation of Manolis Glezos with 2000 rare exhibits.
Folklore museum of Apeirathos
Exhibition of traditional garments and tools.
Museum of Natural History
It accommodates a collection from plants of the region and a small aquarium.
Museum of Children’s Culture (Apeirathos)
A small museum where relation of children with their toys from antiquity to newer years, is presented.
Folklore art workshop
In the region of Kourounochori, a traditional agricultural house of 1870 has been recently renovated aiming to preserve traditional local customs. In its premises, webs and embroideries are produced, sold and exhibited while one may also attend seminars of traditional telary techniques. www.laografikoergastiri.gr
Its history is as old as Zas, the mountain where god Zeus grew up. It was inhabited since the 4th millennium B.C. and met its highest point from the 8th up to the 6th century B.C. In 490 B.C. it was destroyed by their Persians, and later became a member of the Athenian alliance. In the Roman period it was a place of exile, in the Byzantine period it was pestered by piratical raids, while in 1207 it was occupied by Mark Sanoudos, nephew of the doge of Venice. Sanoudos conquered another 18 islands of the Aegean and founded the duchy of the Aegean with Naxos as capital. He built the castle of Hora in the place of the ancient citadel of the island and imposed feudalism. In 1537 the island devolved to the Ottoman Empire and remained in the possession of the Turks up to 1829 when it became part of the newly established Greek state.
Naxos is today the largest island of the Cyclades, and a popular island destination that reminds something of continental Greece, because it maintains its rural character even in these “tourist growth” years.
Naxos has regions for all types and levels of windurfing athletes and friends. Whether you are a starter or advanced or whether you like seed, wave or slalom windsurfing, you are going to find what you look for. In the more touristic beach resorts of Agios Georgios, Agios Prokopios and Agia Anna there are operating schools with technically advanced personnel where you can also find all the necessary equipment for an absolute wave experience. Other famous spots are the regions Mikri Vigla, Kastraki, Purgaki, Amiti, Moutsouna, Aliko and Agiasos
Flisvos school, Agios Georgios Beach, Tel: 22850 24308 Konstantinos Papas
Mavrogiannopoulos Michail, Floisvos Agiou Georgiou, Tel: 22850 22919
Ardavanis Antonios, Lagouna Agiou, Tel: 6944363147
Pananguer Pascal, Mikri Vigla, Tel: 6973051707
Naxos surf club, Τel: 22850 29170, fax: 22850 29171, Mobile: 6944363147, firstname.lastname@example.org
Naxos wind surf, Mikri Vigla, Tel/Fax: 22850 75357, email@example.com
Plaka water sports, Plaka, Tel: 6944633194, firstname.lastname@example.org
Water ski is fairly widespread in Naxos. This impressive water sport can be practiced in most of the islands’ organized beaches (Agios Prokopios, Agios Georgios, etc), while in some of them, there are water ski schools, with expertise personnel and teachers that undertake to teach the correct techniques of this sport for both beginners and advanced.
Gounaridis Vasileios, Plaka Beach, Tel: 6945722404
Piggos Konstantinos, Plaka Beach, Tel: 6944633194
Residents of Naxos are mainly farmers. Consequently it is natural that they are famous for the products that they produce. First in the list are the cheeses and the potatoes. The gruere of Naxos has gained from 1996 a distinction for the name of origin. Then comes the “arseniko”, ideal cheese for grinding, the xynomyzithra and the anthotyro. The potatoes of Naxos are tasty in any cooking implementation, which makes them famous to whole Greece. Beyond these, Naxos has exceptional meats,fresh fish and seafood. Try the spoon sweets and the liqueurs, especially the ones that have citron as their base.
Beloved dishes in Naxos are the pastitsio with pumpkin, the potatoes “pentarates”, the “rosto” (meat in red sauce), the “omelette with karfa” and the kakavia fish soup. Famous specialties of the island are, the “giachnada” with summer vegetables, the “sefouklote” pies with a variety of greens but also the Easter lamb with its tasty filling.
(Materials: For the filling: 2 kilos almonds, 1 kilo walnuts, 1 cup of honey, 1/2 kilo sesame, 2 glasses of sugar, Clover and cinnamon, Sugar (for sprinkling).
For the leaf: 1 kilo flour, 1 spoonful of olive oil, 1 egg, 2 oranges, Mastic)
We put honey,sugar and a little water in a saucepan. We put it upon fire in order to make a mix.By lowering the saucepan we add the remainder of the materials, which should be crushed. We mix and our filling is ready.
We prepare the dough, after we mix and knead all materials, open it in leaves that we cut in round pieces. We put in each piece, one spoonful of filling and we fold in any form we want, pressing it in the end with wet fingers.
We cook in a medium oven and when we remove it, we sprinkle with sugar.
How to Arrive
With the ferry line and speedboats from Piraeus and Rafina. The island is connected with the other islands of the Cyclades, Heraklion of Crete and the Dodecanese.
By plane from Athens
International Airport: www.aia.gr
For more information:
Port Authoriy of Naxos, Tel. 22850-22300
Port Authoriy of Piraeus, Tel. 210 4226000-4, 210 4593140, 210 4593150
Port Authoriy of Rafina, Tel. 22940 22300, Port Authoriy of Thessalonica, Tel. 2310 531505.
GREEK TELECOME: 1440
OlyBic Airlines, Tel. 210 9666666, Office of Mykonos, Tel. 22890 22490/ 22495
Aegean Airlines, Tel. 210 9988300
In the island the locomotion becomes with buses, taxi, rented cars and motorcycles, and with fishing boats that execute regular itineraries for the most distant beaches.
PORT AUTHORITY: 22850-22300
MUNICIPAL AUTHORITY: 22850-22717
HEALTH CENTRES: 22850-23333/ 23550
All the south-western beaches of the island are easily accessible and busy.’Agios Georgios, Agios Prokopios and Agia Anna, are all organised with possibilities for various water sports. In Agia Anna and in the next sandy and enormous beach of Plaka you will find cedars, which offer their shade to the visitors.
On your way, you will find Mikri Vigla and Kastraki with their endless sandy beaches that are visited by surfers, while the street continues for Pyrgaki and Aliko with the sand dunes and a second area of cedars.
The beach of Agiassos is the last beach that we meet in south-west of the island. The Kalantou bay with the beach is found at the southern utmost of the island, at a place with no easy access, but that will surely compensate you with its natural beauty and landscape. From here you will continue for the beautiful beaches of Panormos and Psili Ammos, while in Moutsouna you will swim in Azala and Ligarida.
From Koronos the central street leads east to the beach of Liona and north to the picturesque Apollonas. The coastal street that connects Apollonas with Hora, hosts the beaches Amprami,’Agios Mammas, Hilia Vrisi and Pahia Ammos.
In Naxos, the residents enchant the visitor from the first moment with their hospitality, their traditions and their customs. The locals have strong tradition in music and dance. The songs and the dances of Naxos – mbalos, vitzilaiadistikos, vlacha- have all been spread to the entire Greece. Whenever you go to Naxos, it is sure you will find one of the many local festivals, you will hear the violin and the lute and you will discover the beauty of the islands dancing tradition: Agios Georgios in Kinidaro, the Agia Triada in Galanado, the Agioi Apostoloi in Melanes, Agios Nicodemos of (14th of July) in Hora, the Sotiros of (6th of August) in Glinado, Panagia the 15th of August in Filoti. In the villages Apeirathos and Filoti Carnivals are celebrated with Dionysian elements, with the “koudounatous” and “foustanelatous”. On the evening of the 23rd of June in all the villages, revives the custom of klidonas and in September the “chatzanemata”, the production process of wine and raki, take place. In the end of autumn the choirosfagia take place, while Easter is celebrated in a separate way, where the festive table has the specialty of Naxos: lamb filled with spices, livers and cheese.
The famous festivals are:
• the Agioi Apostoloi on the 30th of June in Melanes,
• on the 14th of July in Agios Nicodemos in Hora and Glinado,
• on the 6th of August the Sotiros in Glinado, Damariona and Kourounochori,
• on the 15th of August in all Naxos and particularly in Filoti and Agios Yannis
• on the 29th of August in Apeiranthos.
On Easter Friday, the festival of Panagia Argokoiliotissa is a particularly picturesque one.
Text and Photos by www.cyclades-tour.gr, www.naxos.gr