INFORMATION ABOUT NAXOS ISLAND
In the heart of the Aegean Sea, Naxos is located, the enchanting island of Cyclades with the natural beauty and the fertile ground. Naxos is an island with big history and intense presence in the creation of Greek culture.
It is believed that the first residents of Naxos were Karyeis from the Thrace, which worshipped Dionysos, the god of wine. Dionysos linked Naxos with Ariadni, the goddess of fertility that Thiseas left on the island. The fertility of the island is credited to their union. Even though the island today has considerable tourist development, locals also engage in other industries including agriculture, stockbreeding and marble quarrying.
This myth of Ariadni is also presented in the opera of Richard Straoys “Ariadni of Naxos”.
In the island you can find immense sandy beaches, with crystal waters and cedars, captivating landscapes and a lot of natural beauties. The island offers ideal conditions for those who love water sport. Windsurfing it is the most popular sport because of the unique winds of the island. The meltemi, or summer winds that blow during the daytime, are their best ally.
If you like cycling, you can follow unique routes with very beautiful landscapes. Naxos is real paradise for hiking and nature lovers and those who have passion for exploration. The island is a veritable paradise with scores of paths crossing it.
Visitors interested in learning about the day to day lifestyle of the island and its folk culture should explore its interior where visitors are welcomed as honoured guests. You can visit the villages and see the culture of the island as well as the important historical monuments of Naxos. It is a unique island of Cyclades that assembles important historical interest from different periods. It is also a popular destination for summer holidays offering you intense night life and a lot of choices since Chora during the summertime don’t sleep.
NAXOS ISLAND HISTORY
Naxos was inhabited through prehistoric years. Zeus, the father of gods of the ancient Greeks, was born in Crete and raised in Naxos, gave his name to the tallest mountain Za (1004 m.).
Archaeological discoveries testify the existence of a developed society, from the 4th millennium B.C., the island has been inhabited continuously since.
The Bronze Ages in 3200-1100 B.C. begin for Naxos. The island is dynamically presented in the Aegean during the 3rd millennium B.C. as an important centre the so-called “Cycladic Culture”. Discoveries of that season are exposed in the Archaeological Museum of Naxos in Chora and the Archaeological Museum of Apeiranthos.
In the beginning of 2nd millennium Minoans are the dominant maritime power in the Aegean and later during the same millennium control of the seas passes to the Mycenaeans. Mycenaean centres of Greek mainland used Cyclades as bridges for their expansion to the East. In the archaeological space of Grotta you can see a department of the Mycenaean capital of Naxos (1300 B.C.) that was revealed under the square of the cathedral in Chora.
During the Geometric era (1100 - 700 B.C.), Naxos is colonized by the Ionians, and their arrival marks the start of a period of tremendous growth.
The growth climaxes during the Archaic era (7th - 6th century B.C.) and is accompanied by the blossoming of arts, particularly sculpture and architecture thanks to the wealth of Naxos subsoil, the abundant marble that was raw material and the emery that was useful for the final smoothing of work. The sculpture of archaic season is represented in Naxos from the two large half-completed Kouroi founded at Melanes and Apollonas. Excavations also revealed in Chora of Naxos, very important archaeological findings such as the temple of Yria, south of Hora at Livadi, and the sanctuary of Yiroula near Sagri. The temple of Apollo, or Portara on Palataki islet at the port’s edge, also dates from this period. In 490 B.C., Naxos is destroyed by the Persians.
Around 536-535 B.C. Peisistratos the Athenian because of the democratic conflict and aristocracy, exiles in the island the politician opponent, the tyrant Lygdami. Naxos passes a period of intense acne and glory conquering Andros and Paros. For a lot of years dominated in the Aegean Sea and maintained an army of 8000 men. The power passed in to the hands of local sovereigns when Spartans brought down Lygdami. The tyrant of Militoy Aristagoras intervened and the island passed under the control of Persians. The failure of expedition in Naxos caused the revolt in Ionians that led to the beginning of Persian wars.
In 490 B.C. the Persian generals Datis and Artafernis, with 600 triireis burned the temples and the city of Naxos. The Greeks won in the Greek-Persian and Naxos became a member of the Athenian League. In 453 B.C. the island was inhabited from Athenians paying annual tax of 6 talanta in the beginning and 15 later. After the battle of Chaironeias in 338 B.C. the island was conquered by Macedonians and passed under the possession of Ptolemaios who imported the adoration of Egyptian deities. In the Roman years Naxos passed under the power of Rhodes, constituted a place of exile from Rome.
During the newer years of Naxos, emery mines are created in the Eastern side of the island in the street to Lionas. The agricultural products of Naxos bloom the island economically and the tourism discovers Naxos in the '80s.
One of the most important monuments of Naxos, the Himarros tower, dates from the Hellenistic era (323 - 41 B.C.) and is located near the village of Filoti. Another ancient Greek tower is Palaiopyrgos of Plate, located between the village Tripodes and Plaka beach. In 41 B.C. Naxos became Roman province and was used as place of exile.
The Byzantine era (330-1207) follows, with the advent of Christianity in the 4th century. The ancient temples where replaced by Christian churches; today there are 500 churches on the island. Panayia Drosiani near Moni and Panayia Protothroni near Halki,, are two important monuments the Early Christian period. The fortified monastery of Fotodotis Christos, outside the village Danakos is dated from this period. The same period the Byzantines build the Kalogeros Kastro, built on the top of a low but inaccessible mountain, in the northern end of Naxos. Apano Kastro is located west from the Tragea plain. The Apalirou Castle is built in the top of an abrupt mountain; the island’s Byzantine capital was located at its foothills.
In 1207 Markos Sanoudos, gets off with his men at Ayiassos, and after a siege conquers the island. He subsequently conquers 18 more islands of the Aegean Sea, afterwards he found the Duchy of Naxos, with the island as its seat, and creates a small feud. The capital is moved from Apaliros castle to Chora, whose hill forms a natural acropolis. On this side, Sanoudos built the fortified Castle of Chora using materials from the ancient city. The island’s rulers built in the countryside Venetian towers for residences and for protection of pirate’s raids. Recent towers from the 17th century are Ayios Pyrgos which was destroyed in the past few years by fire and is located in the northern coasts of Naxos and the fortified monastery of Panayia Ypsilotera, outside the village of Galini. 20 different dukes passed in succession from the duchy of Naxos until 1537. Then, without obvious reason, duke Krispos delivered the keys of the city to Barbarosa. Turks captive Krispo in a boat and plundered the city and the palace. They demanded 5000 golden coins as annual tax for his freedom. In 1564 the duke died and his place took the son of Iakovos that was compelled to withdraw in 1566 and the duchy passed in the sovereignty of Iosif, a Nazi from Israel.
Naxos remained in the sovereignty of Turks up to 1829 and afterwards joined the Modern Greek state. .