A tour of Naxos the largest of the Cyclades, Greece
I’m heading for Naxos, supposedly the island the place Dionysus, the god of wine and enjoyable was born. It’s the largest of the Cyclades and possibly the most fertile because of rain clouds forming on its mountains.
I can see these in the distance as I method Chora, the capital, however I’m instantly impressed by the defensive citadel overlooking the bay, and the stays of the Temple of Apollo, Two imposing marble columns topped with a lintel, generally known as the Portara, rise excessive into the sky.
Like most islands, the port is lined with cafes and eating places however behind it, steep alleys lead as much as the historic neighbourhood, topped by the Kastro, a defensive bastion of twelve towers, though just one, the Tower of Crispi stays. It was constructed by the crusader Marco Sanudo in the thirteenth century when he based the Venetian Duchy of the Aegean. Still, many Venetian mansions survive, typically with descendants of the unique households nonetheless residing there. Unusually for Greece, there’s a Catholic cathedral right here and a seventeenth century Ursuline convent. Nikos Kazantzakis, who wrote Zorba the Greek, studied in the French Commercial School close by
Temple of Apollo
I courageous the waves pouring over the causeway to cross over to the Temple of Apollo, began by the tyrant Lygdamis round 530 BC. Most of the stone was pillaged to construct the Kastro however the Portara, or ‘Doorway’ was just too huge to cart away. According to mythology, that is the place Dionysus duped Theseus into abandoning Ariadne on his manner again from Crete. It’s a powerful sight and in the night individuals collect to observe the sunsets.
I begin at Agios Georgios, Hora’s city seashore, and proceed south previous the lovely Agios Prokopios, sandy and shallow in a sheltered bay simply past the headland of Cape Mougkri. This merges into Agia Anna, after which there’s the lengthy, unbroken stretch of sand which is Plaka Beach. More attractive bays observe, punctuated with rocky outcrops, so far as Pyrgaki, actually the finish of the street.
The peaks round Mount Zeus are calling so I get in my automobile to discover the inside of the island. It’s very inexperienced, full of olive timber and grape vines with potatoes rising on the plain close to the sea. As I begin to climb I see white villages dotted on the hillside with the mountains towering behind them.
Temple of Demeter
Demeter was the goddess of grain, and this temple was constructed to encourage the harvests on this fertile space. It dates from 530 BC and later an early Christian basilica was constructed over the prime of it. In 1977 German archaeologists moved to at least one facet and the temple was partially reconstructed. It’s a gorgeous web site, sitting proud in the center of the fields and there’s a wonderful museum detailing its historical past.
The space between Melanes and Kinidaros has been the island’s marble quarry since historical instances and the hillside is scarred by enormous gashes. Naxos marble isn’t as superb grained as Paros however higher suited to giant buildings relatively than superb classical sculpture. The rock would bear tough processing at the quarry earlier than being moved to the remaining vacation spot.
In Flerio there stay two examples of Kouroi, giant marble statues from the seventh and sixth centuries BC, every measuring about 5.5m. Both of these sleeping giants have damaged limbs, maybe broken by unhealthy workmanship, they usually had been deserted eternally.
Halki was as soon as the capital of Naxos and it lies at the coronary heart of the Tragaea mountainous area, about 20 minutes’ drive from Hora. Handsome previous villas and Venetian tower homes remind you of its historical past and it’s full of arty boutiques. The native distillery, Vallindras Naxos Citron, was based in 1896, and continues to be producing the island’s distinctive spirit Citron, constituted of lemon leaves.
At the centre of the island, Apiranthos sits at the foot of Mt. Fanari, at an altitude of 600m and sometimes has snow in winter. It’s near the marble quarries and its slender streets are paved with the stuff. Add Venetian towers, fairly two-storey homes, and picturesque squares and you’ve got an plain sense of grandeur. Interestingly many of villagers are descendants of refugees who escaped from tyranny in Crete in the 18th century they usually retain their very own dialect.
Filoti is the largest village in the area and is the staging put up for climbing Mount Zeus. There’s a round stroll which takes round three to 4 hours, however I drive as much as Agios Marina church at round 550m and begin from there.
It’s simply over an hour to the prime on a well-marked path and by no means very steep, though I’m caught in low cloud slightly below the summit. From there I’m rewarded with great views over the complete of Naxos and its island neighbours.
FLY: Wizzair has low cost flights from London Luton to Athens.
GETTING AROUND: Naxos is a ferry hub so best for island hopping. The boat from Piraeus takes round six hours. Although there are restricted bus companies on the islands, a rent automobile is beneficial.
STAY: The Princess of Naxos is on the outskirts of city, reverse the seashore, with a swimming pool.
EAT: Meze serves up glorious seafood on the port. To Elliniko serves conventional meals in a backyard inside the city. Kozi is sweet for grilled meats.
MORE INFO: Naxos and Small Cyclades has details about the island
Visit Greece has details about the nation.
PACKAGE: On Foot Holidays supply 7 days strolling in Naxos and Amorgos from £645.