Naxos (GREECE, CYCLADES)

Naxos is a Greek island in the Aegean Sea, the largest island of the Cyclades complex,  located south of Mykonos and east of Paros.

Naxos Sights

 

The island is rich in vegetation due to its rich springs and streams, the richest of all the Cycladic islands – justifying the view of Herodotus that “it offered prosperity to the other islands.”  Its coasts are vast, with rich sandy beaches, ideal for swimming and relaxation.

Mineral wealth is also important, with two well-known products:  Naxos marble and emery or Naxos earth.  

 

 

Naxos Town

The largest city and capital of the island is Naxos Chora or Naxos, with 7,070 inhabitants (census 2011).  The main villages are Filoti, Apiranthos, the Bible (Tripods), Agios Arsenios, Koronos, and Glinados.   

Panoramic view of Naxos Chora

 

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View of NAXOS town and its harbor

 

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Naxos Shops

 

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Naxos alleys

 

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Naxos alleys and shops

 

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Naxos street colors

 

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Museums of Naxos

 

The Archaeological Museum of Naxos 

The Historical Archive of Naxos is housed today in the former French School, located in the Castle of Naxos.  The famous writer Nikos Kazantzakis attended this school.
The Venetian Museum of Naxos or Domus Della Rocca-Barozzi is housed in an old mansion in the Castle, and it is an accurate representation of the life of Naxos in the 19th century.

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Archaeological Museum of Naxos

 

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Archaeological Museum of Naxos

 

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Archaeological Museum of Naxos

 

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Archaeological Museum of Naxos

 

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Historical elements

The first inhabitants of the island were Thracians (Greek province of Thrace) and of the Pelasgian tribe, followed by the tribe of Kares, headed by their leader Naxos, to whom the name of the island is attributed. 

Other historians and philologists believe the name derives from the ancient Greek word “naxa,” meaning “sacrifice,” and was derived from the rich sacrifices made in honor of the gods.   The name Naxos was preserved over the centuries until the middle years, also as Naxia.  It was the center of Archaic Cycladic culture.

The island is known as a source of emery, a corundum-rich rock, which is one of the best available abrasives until the modern era.

Mycenean era

The Mycenaean city of Naxos (around 1300 BC) covered the area from today’s city to the island of Palatia, and part of it was discovered under the square in front of the Orthodox Cathedral in Chora, where today the  Grotta archaeological site is. 

Just below the square, there is currently an on-site museum with a glass floor and elevated corridors.  Visitors cross over the exposed ruins (walls, houses, and workshops) of the Mycenaean period (1400-1100 BC). Mycenaean artifacts (decorated with paint, vases, weapons, utensils, etc.) are also exhibited at the archaeological museum of Naxos.  

Grotta site (cave)

Many Cycladic figurines, as well as other findings of Cycladic culture (pots, engraved performances, etc.),  have been found in the area of Grotta (cave)  in Naxos town mainly, but also in other locations of the island,

They are exhibited at the Archaeological Museum (Grotta),  at the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens, and a small number of them in the archaeological museum of  Apeiranthos. The archaeological museum of Naxos has the second largest collection in Cycladic findings after the archaeological museum of Athens.

Mount of Za 

Mount Zas or Drios cross the island, a low mountain range that crosses it from north to south, with the highest peak Naxos Zeus or Za (1.002 μ.).   This name is due to the mythological tradition that Jupiter was born and raised in Naxos.

An alternative view of the ancient Greeks is that Zeus, the father of Gods was born in Crete in the cave of Diktaion Andron, but grew up in Naxos, and thus the tallest mountain of the island took its name (Zeus or, for the locals, Zas, 999 meters). 

Portara (Apollo’s Gate)

Portara, the giant gate of the temple dedicated to the god Apollo but never was completed.   This great marble gate that stands high on Palatia island (currently united to Naxos Town) includes the remains of Apollo’s temple, which began to be built in the Lygdamis period.    In 501 BC, the Persians besieged the island for four months, with no effect initially, but in a new attempt in 490 BC. they conquered and wrecked it.

 

Apollo’s Temple

 

Sunset in Portara

 

Kouros of Melanes (Flerio)

In Flerio location near Melanes village, the famous “Kouros of Melanes,” one of the most striking examples of Naxian art. In Flerio, in antiquity (and nowadays), there was an abundant flow of running water that fed the area. This wealth, along with the existence of marbles, favored the development of quarries, workshops, and sculpture schools in the 6th century BC.  

There are two semi-finished kouroi in the sanctuary of Flerio, one of which is easily accessible. The second one is in the nearby “Pharagi” area and requires a little hiking.  Both statues of kouros were incomplete, probably because they were partially damaged during their creation or suffered some damage during their transport.

#1     The “Kouros” of Melanes (Flerio)

 

#2   The “Kouros” in the nearby “Pharagi” area (570 BC)

 

Sanctuary of Goddes Demeter (Gyroulas in Sangri)

The temple is located in Gyroula, south of the village of Sagri, and has been partly restored.  It is considered very important for archeology because it has been preserved and gives a lot of information about the construction and the architecture of the ancient temples.

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The marble-temple was erected for the worship of goddess Demeter (Goddes of the earth)  and is one of the most important ancient monuments in Naxos.

The temple is located in the area of Gyroula, south of the village of Sagri.
Sanctuary and Temple of Goddes Demeter

The Sanctuary of Demeter dates back to the decade 530-520 BC. and is of Ionic rhythm. Together with the temple of Yria, they are considered architecturally the Parthenon precursors.

The temple is made entirely of white marble in a square shape, with columns on its facade.  Inside, it also had columns that supported the ceiling in the specially designed interior, which was used to worship Goddess Demeter and the daughter, as evidenced by inscriptions found in the temple.

A museum has been erected near the sanctuary, displaying findings from the temple that were not used during the restoration and artifacts from the later erected Early Christian basilica. 

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Sanctuary of Demeter

 

 

Bellonia Tower

The Bellonia Tower is located on the outskirts of village Galanado and is a striking example of a Venetian mansion. 

Bellonia Tower

The tower was the residence of the Venetian lord of the area. On one side of the outer wall stands the coat of arms of the Bellonia family. Today, the tower impresses with its imposing shape and panoramic views towards the meadows of Naxos Chora. 

In the same estate also exists a chapel of Agios Ioannis (Saint John)  of the 13th century bearing coats of arms and sculptures.

The chapel of Ag. Ioannis (Saint John)

 

Bazeos Tower

On the 12th Km of the main road from  Naxos (Chora)  to (Halki, Filoti) is the Bazeos Tower, a typical 17th century restored monument.

The tower dates back to the 17th century when it functioned as a monastery called the monastery of the Holy Cross. In 1834 it became the property of the newly founded Greek state. By the end of the 19th century, the Bazeos(Baseggio) family bought the tower, whose descendants are the current owners. 

Bazeos Tower is a typical 17th century restored monument.

 

Since 2000  the building operates as a hosting space for cultural events by a nonprofit organization in collaboration with institutes, universities, and museums all over Greece and abroad.

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Tower of Agia

The tower of Agia was built approx. In the first half of the 17th century, and originally belonged to the Kokkos family, a strong Orthodox family of the post-Naxian Naxos.

Later, the tower became the property of the Spanish family, the descendant of whom was the last resident of Stylianos Paras. Today’s owner is the niece of Sofia Para. It has been classified as a historic listed monument.

The ruins of the Tower of Agia, with magnificent views of the Aegean Sea

 

Other Archaeological sites and monuments

The most important archaeological sites visited in Naxos are:

  • Portara: The ruins of the archaic temple of Apollo, the huge portal called “Portara” in the Palatia palace, and the marble frameworks of the Temple are preserved. Since 1919 it is connected to the island just north of Naxos port.
  • Ancient Naxos: The ruins of a Mycenaean settlement at Grotta, north of the city in for Venetian Castle of Naxos: Also on the hill of Chora Naxos the Venetian Castle of Naxos with the old Venetian Church and the School of Ursulines.
  • Tower of Sanoudos: Remains from the Tower of Markos Sanoudos, opposite the Catholic Metropolis, survive in the same place.
  • Tower of Krispi: The Tower of Krispi is saved with the coat of arms – coat of arms of the family.
  • In Sagri, there are many archaeological findings and Byzantine churches. It is also famous for its Venetian towers, two of which are ruined in Kato Sagri, while a third, the Palaiologos Tower, restored, is located at 20 ‘ distance.   
  • Venetian Towers: Many Venetian towers also exist in Halki and in Filoti, where the Tower of Cheimaros, a fortress of the Hellenistic period.
  • Imperfect statue of Apollo or Kouros or Dionysus of 10.50 m in Pachia Ammos there is. The second Kouros imperfect but broken leg of 2.5m height is also lying in Fleirous while a third 1.8m long is in a remote location that requires walking to Apollo Naxos. There is also an imperfect statue of a female figure (daughter) located a short distance from the Kouros in Flerio, Melanes.
    Temple of Demeter: It is the most important attraction after Portara. It is located in Gyroula Sagri.
  • Sanctuary of Dionysus in the area of ​​Yria.
  •  Medieval fortifications on the island are the Ancient Castle, the Empire’s Castle, and the Panormou Castle.
  • Temple of Ypapanti Naxos – Catholic Metropolis. It was built in the early 13th century as a three-aisled vault. In 1536 another two aisles were added and became five-aisled with three domes. The Virgin Mary of Eleousa dates back to the 11th century and comes from Nicomedia of Asia Minor.
  • Jesuit Palace, or else the Jesuit Palace, is located just outside the last houses of the village of Melanes in Kalamitsia.
 

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Religion

Naxos is home to many Byzantine churches. The valley of Tragia is also called “small Mystras” due to its number of churches, dating from the 7th to the 15th centuries. 

The most famous is Panagia Drosiani, which had 3 layers of frescoes, the old one dating back to the 7th century.   Other important churches are Panagia Protothroni in Chalki and Agios Georgios the Diasoritis. 

Some churches were built during Iconoclasm and bear frescoes with “non-iconic decoration,” frescoes that do not depict saints but geometric shapes and plants.

 

Virgin Mary of Chrysopolitissa (Church)

The Metropolitan Church of Paronaxia is located northwest of the city of Naxos and is dedicated to Zoodochos Pigi.  It was built in 1787 by Archbishop  Neοphytos in the space of an older temple.  The oldest metropolitan church is the Virgin Mary – Chrysopolitissa.   

In front of the church were also revealed remains of a former tomb of the Naxians dated from the 2nd and 1st centuries BC. 

Church of the Virgin Mary of Chrysopolitissa

 

Agios Ioannis Chrysostomos (Monastery)

The Monastery of Agios Ioannis Chrysostomos of Naxos stands on a hill above the port of Naxos and the beach of Grotta.   It is located 2.5 km above the Chora of Naxos and has amphitheatrical views of the chora and other Cycladic islands.

The monastery has a fortress character from pirate raids in the Aegean with a fortified gate.   Inside there is a small courtyard with a cool spring.     Remarkable relics are the wood-carved iconostasis of the small Catholicon with the icon of St. John Chrysostom (1818).

The Monastery of Agios Ioannis Chrysostomos

 

Fotodotis Christ (Monastery)

The oldest monastery of Naxos, Fotodotis Christ, dominates the mountains north of the village of Danakos since the 6th century AD.   Its frescoes and inscriptions date back to the Byzantine period, but the opinions for its foundation do not agree.  It was either built on an ancient castle that existed before or, according to others, the son of the Byzantine emperor Alexios Komnenos built it in the 12th century.

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Panagia Drosiani

Panagia Drosiani is a historic Byzantine monastery at the northern edge of the valley of Dryalia, south of the village of Moni in Naxos island.

Panagia Drosiani

During the Frankish period, the monastery and its surrounding area were a special treasure of the Belonia House. After the occupation of Naxos by the Turks, the last Duke of Naxos and the Aegean Sea, John D Krispies, with a document issued in 1555, assigned the monastery to the Greek Orthodox church.

Panagia Drosiani

Most of the Monastery was buried underground, and it was revealed by archeological excavations that were done in the ’70s.  Until then, the only visible place was the main church.  The church is essentially a cluster of four churches. It is of Byzantine rhythm, and all of its sections, inner and outer, are in the shape of a cross.

Many hagiographies seem to be the oldest ones since the two previous layers have been removed and transferred to museums. Characteristic are the two Pantocrator in the dome depicting the human and the divine nature of Christ.

 

Panagia Filotitisa (church)

The church of Panagia Filotitisa, dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, a basilica built in 1718 in the place of an old Byzantine temple.
The church of Panagia Filotitisa (Filoti Village)

This basilica was founded in 1718 in the space of an old Byzantine temple and completed in 1806. 

The Virgin Mary of Filotitis, dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, symbolizes the long-term struggles of the residents of Filoti against the feudal regime.   It celebrates August 15 every year and is the most important day of the village.

 

Virgin Mary church (Apiranthos Village)

Church of Apiranthos (dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary)

 

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Villages in Naxos

 

Filoti (Village) 

Filoti village is a semi-mountainous village located in central Naxos at the foot of Mount Zas,  at an altitude of about 400 meters and about 18.2 km from Naxos Chora.   

Stretching amphitheatrically on the slopes of two hills is the largest village of Naxos and one of the largest in the Cyclades with 1,477 inhabitants (December 2011).

View of Filoti Village

 

The main square of the village is dominated by a hundred-year-old plane tree (since 1912).   The square is called Bridge because there was a bridge with waters running from Kalamos and Agia Irini’s springs many years ago.  At that time, a watermill was fed by a cistern, which survives to this day.

Bridge square of Filoti

 

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Alleys in Filoti

The interior of the old village settlement on the two hills is that of a traditional Cycladic village and has been characterized as a traditional settlement… 

The most iconic sites are the large historic church of Panagia in “Lachanario”  Square and the paved labyrinthine streets with arches.   

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Alleys and paved stairs in Filoti

 

Traditionally, the local products of the Village are farming and livestock-related products. 

There is considerable sufficiency in farm vegetables  (figs, grapes, wine, and main olives with excellent olive oil).    Also, dairy products of a free-range  (goat and sheep cheese such as kefalotyri, anthotyro, xinotyro, tolomoutiri, arsenic, mizithra, etc.).

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Chalki (Village)

Halki is a great architecture with remarkable sites as the Byzantine Church of Panagia Protothroni and the Vallindras family distillery of citron.

Halki is a small quaint village. It stands out with its old mansions with tiles, the classic balconies with fine railings, garlands on the roofs, and paved courtyards.  The architecture of its houses is typical examples of neoclassicism, witnesses to the economic prosperity that the village experienced in earlier times. 

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Next to the stream, towering trees and running water, the troughs that washed their clothes in other seasons, and the small, nice green courtyards.  

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There are many archaeological monuments within the village and Byzantine churches full of frescoes and tall Venetian towers. 

 

House in Chalki

 

The Vallindra distillery is housed in an old mansion in Chalki and makes the famous Naxos citrus liqueur, one of the three Greek liqueurs with a designation of origin.

Vallindra Distillery in Chalki

 

The Vallindra distillery offers its guests and passers-by its excellent drink, the citrus, made from leaves of the citrus tree, along with the opportunity to tour the place and observe the process of production.

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Apiranthos (Village)

At the foot of the mountain, Fanari stands the village of Apiranthos.  A village of extraordinary traditional beauty, Venetian castles, and marbled alleys. 

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The village of Apiranthos has located 28 km from the capital of the island, built at an altitude of 570 to 640 meters on the eastern slopes of Mount Fanari.   It is the second-largest village on the island, after Filoti.

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Apiranthos is a traditional stone-built village.

The village is referenced in 413 by the traveler Christopher Boulotelmonti as a remarkable village.  Most of its inhabitants originate from Crete due to the similarity of culture, dialects, morals and customs, poetry, and music,  while some originate from the coast of Asia Minor.

Its inhabitants are engaged in livestock farming, smithies, and after the 80s with tourism.

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The village has been characterized as a traditional settlement since 1978. The village is developed around two 17th-century towers, formerly owned by Franco-majestic landowners. One of these is the Tower of Zevgoli. 

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Every corner of it is a distinct creation of the folk architecture; even the variety in the forms of the unfamiliar (chimneys) constitutes a “valley of undefined.”

 

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The settlement still preserves its Venetian architecture, with narrow cobbled streets. 

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Hiking information Signs for Apiranthos Tourists.

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Museums in Apiranthos
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  • The Museum of Natural History of Apiranthos.
  • The Geological Museum of Aipiranthos may be Greece’s largest rock formations and worldwide [47].
  • The Folkloric Museum of Aperanthus is housed in a traditional village house and has 19th-century domestic, agricultural, and livestock items.
  • The Museum of Visual Arts, Aperanthus, is a Modern Art Gallery with over 70 works.
    Nikos Nikolaos Glezos Library with 20,000 volumes of books in Apiranthos

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Museums in Apeiranthos include the Archaeological Museum, the Folklore Museum, the Geological Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the Fine Arts Museum.

There are main findings of the Cycladic era in the Archaeological Museum, i.e., of the 3rd millennium BC. Among them are the engraved plaques of the Koroni of Aroni.

Natural History Museum of Apeiranthos

 

 

Apollon (Village and beach)

Apollonas is a coastal village in the northernmost part of the island passing through Koronos and the famous Smidorouss of Naxos.  Apollonas is a seaside village in northern Naxos, in the homonym bay, with 129 inhabitants (2011 census). In this bay, there are ancient quarries rarely exploited.

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Apollo Naxos was the oldest port of approach to the ships that carried out the “barren line” of the Cyclades.  Until about 1960, this village was connected to the surrounding villages with a hilly road.

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Today Apollonas Naxos has evolved into a tourist resort with many seaside taverns and cafes. There is a small pier serving mainly fishing boats and small yachts.  The homonymous bay is wide enough for water sports and provides safety mainly in southern and southwest winds.

 

The Kouros of Appolo

There is an ancient colossal statue of a kouros in a supine position on the western hill close to the village.   The site was one of the two ancient quarries of Naxos, where one of the greatest arts of antiquity, the marble sculpture, began.  The “kouroi” of Naxos are the most ancient in the Greek world, and from this ancient quarry of Apollo were transferred to Delos and other places.  On the site, there is an oversized kouros (11 meters) of the god Dionysus.

#3 The kouros of Apollonas – Archaic marble quarry – Statue of Dionysos

 

Galanado (Village) 

Galanado is a lowland village in western Naxos at an altitude of 70-100 meters and has 455 inhabitants (census 2011). It is about 5 km away from Chora Naxos. There are many churches in the village, but the largest is the holy temple of the Holy Spirit.

 

Sangri (Village) 

Sangri is a community of Naxos in the Prefecture of Cyclades and is located 11 km southeast of Hora, around the center of the island.  It is known for its beautiful architecture, the scattered monasteries, and the archaeological site of the Temple of Demeter in the Gyroulas area. A dominant place in the center of the village is the famous monastery of Agios Eleftherios.

 

Egares (Village) 

Egares is a Village with a traditional olive press. Beautiful, green village to the east of the valley of Engara 8km northeast of Chora. It is worth visiting the Eggares Oil Mill, the Pradouna Tower, and the Monastery of Faneromeni.

 

Melanes (Village) 

Melanes Village is located In low western Naxos,  9km from Naxos Town,   at 110-160 meters and 414 inhabitants (2011 census).                                                  

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Beaches

 

Agios Georgios (beach)

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Next to the city of Naxos and moving south is the beach of Agios Georgios, a sandy and lively beach with shallow water and protected from the winds,  a frequent phenomenon in the Cyclades.   Ideal for families, young children, and water sports.

agios-georgios-beach

 

Agia Anna (beach)

Its characteristic fine sand is accompanied by beautiful cedar trees that offer a natural shade to its swimmers. Pure waters, cozy, and turquoise make the beach perfect. Many beach bars to combine your dives with cocktails.

 

Agios Prokopios (beach)

The most famous beach in Naxos is located 5 km from Chora, in a windy location.  With white sand, it stretches over 1.5 km.   Well organized and offers possibilities for sunbathing and water sports of all kinds.

 

Plaka (beach)

Agia Anna and Agios Prokopios is a continuation of one of the most beautiful and large beaches of Naxos.  A fine white sandy beach with large dunes and enchanting scenery.  Next to the sea, there are taverns and rooms to let overlooking the endless blue. Plaka is one of the first destinations in Naxos in recent years, and we believe not unfairly!

 

Agiassos (beach)

Another sandy beach, a peaceful landscape with endless blue. It is worthwhile to visit and swim in its crystal clear waters, especially if you are tired of the crowd of other popular beaches.

 

Psili Ammos (beach)

On the eastern side of Naxos, you will find Psili Ammos beach, between Moutsouna and Panormos. With fine sand (as its name suggests) and high trees (cedars) on dunes. Another beach with a unique landscape, almost tropical.

 

Alyko (beach)

Alyko is located on the Southwest side of Naxos, 20 km from Chora.  It is a small but exotic and sheltered beach enclosed by cedar trees.   In the area, there are also some taverns. 

 

Apollon (beach)

 

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Moutsouna (beach)

The natural harbor of the island, 38 km away from Naxos Town.   Moutsouna is associated with the history of the emery and visiting the area. You will have the chance to see the Naxos smithy railway that is among the top industrial monuments of Greece. 

 

Little Vigla- Mikri vigla (beaches)

The name (Vigla) suggests that it was previously an observatory, obviously about the pirate’s danger in Naxos.   Two wonderful sandy beaches., Limanaki and Virgo separated by a rock.   

The beach of Partheni is a meeting place for friends of kitesurfing and windsurfing where the weather conditions are ideal for these sports. The paradox here is that when on one beach strong winds blow, the visitor can enjoy swimming without any wind on one other beach.

 

Pirgaki (beach)

Pyrgaki is a beach with cedar trees on the southwest coast of Naxos not so crowded.  Its name was taken from the hill that was there, and it was a watchtower for pirates (as in Vigla).  It is a fabulous location with a long beach (sand).

 

Kastraki (beach)

The longest beach of Naxos (3 km long). With white fine sand and clear blue waters.  The beach offers tranquility and relaxation for fishing, swimming,  or diving. 

 

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Local products (Naxos)

Naxos, as Herodotus mentions, surpassed all the islands, and many of its products were known in antiquity, such as Naxos marble, emery (Naxos stone), wine (even a variety of grapes ” lax “), almonds, sheep and goats, and a beetle, an aromatic plant with healing properties, pecans, and honey, 

Exquisite local products such as:

  • Cheese (Graviera Naxos is the most famous cheese on the island).   
  • Olive Oil (The so-called olive oil of Naxos)
  • Naxos potatoes
  • Naxos onions
  • Naxos wine
  • Naxos olives (tableware known as wafers), 
  • Raki(grapa) and local citrus beverage

 

Citrus fruits and various spoon sweets (grapes, cherry, cherry, orange juice, bergamot, fig, walnut, etc.).    The Liker of Naxos is a trademark of the city, and it is either plain or in two colors, green with chlorophyll and yellow with citron.     At the end of September, the distillation process of raki often begins with a dance under the sounds of live traditional music.   Equally famous is the liqueur, the citrus of Naxos based on it, the leaves of citrine.

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Gastronomy (Naxos)

Kalogeros – Eggplant stuffed with beef, tomato sauce, and cheeses

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Naxos cruises

  • Daily Trips from Panermos, Gialitissa takes you on a journey through the history and virgin beauty of southeastern Naxos.  From Panermos, when the road ends with the caiki, you can be traveling southwest towards the coastline of the area. The traveler will enjoy the beauty of Agia Triada, Lakkos, Seko to, Antriou, Spedou, and Rina. You can swim inside the sea cave and explore the beach with its natural freshwater springs at Rina.
  • One-day cruise from Naxos to Delos. An island with unique archaeological sights which reveal a history of 3000 years.  And Mykonos, the very well-known and cosmopolitan island with the typical Cycladic architecture.
  • Another choice is  Santorini, an island with rare beauty and a unique view of the caldera.
    Or you can go to Koufonissi. The peaceful atmosphere of  Small Cyclades and amazing beaches.
  • A good choice is Amorgos. Feel the grandeur of nature and piety to visit the Moni Chozoviotissas climbing 300 steps to the heart of the huge rocks and Paros(Naoussa).

 

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