The largest island of the Cyclades, in the Aegean Sea, has constituted a place of significance since the prehistoric era and, according to mythology, is where Zeus was raised. Nowadays, Naxos fascinates its visitors with its rich historical and cultural achievements, its natural beauty, as well as its developed tourist infrastructure. Here we present some of the must-visit places in this glorious Greek island.
Archaeological Μuseum of Naxos
The Archaeological Museum of Naxos is located in Chora Naxos, the heart of the island. It is located in a well maintained Venetian building, dating back to the 17th century and is of special architectural interest. The museum hosts objects and artefacts from the period between the Neolithic and the early-Christian periods. The consecutive civilizations that flourished are represented by a rich collection of ceramics, statues, vessels and idols that will fascinate you.
The Geological Museum was established in 1964 and initially operated for four years, until 1968. It was reestablished in 1987, several years after the end of the Greek dictatorship, after the initiative of Manolis Glezos who donated his personal collection of rock formations and fossils. The museum attracts many visitors every year with its rare exhibits, which include emery, the famous local dark marble, meteorites and fossils, which even date back to 70,000 years ago.
Portara is the large marble gate dominating the isle Palatia, which is nowadays connected with Chora Naxos, and is the only remnant of the temple dedicated to Apollo, which dates back to the 7th century BC. Of course, we’re talking about the trademark of Naxos and the first thing you’ll see from the boat as you approach the island. The gate, called Portara, may be a small part of the never-finished temple, but it’s all your imagination needs to recreate the glorious ancient Greek past.
During the ancient times, the Greek islands of the Aegean and the Ionian sea were surrounded by fortresses in order to be protected from pirates and foreign invaders. The same applies in the case of Naxos, as the island’s architectural identity includes a large number of Venetian fortresses. All these fortresses were built using Naxian stone, with sculptures on their surface, which proves that we’re not only talking about a way of protection, but also about significant cultural monuments. The most famous fortresses of Naxos are the Tower of Glezos in Chora Naxos, the Tower of Fragopoulos in Kourochori and the Tower of Agia next to the homonymous monastery.
The monastey of Panagia Drosiani
One of the most important pre-Christian temples of the island was built in the area between Tragaia and Moni during the 6th century. Panagia Drosiani is dedicated to ‘Virgin Mary of the rain’, who according to the tradition, answered the prayers of the locals who asked her help with a drought that afflicted the island for years. On the temple’s walls you will see well-preserved paintings, which date back to the period between the 7th and the 14th century, and represent various saints and Jesus Christ.
The city of Chora Naxos, the heart of the island, is one of the most picturesque cities of the Cyclades and the most famous tourist destination of the island. Nowadays it is a traditional yet modern place, with traditional white houses, narrow streets, influences from the Venetian and the Mycenaean civilization, as well as a developed tourist infrastructure, with a large number of hotels, bars, cafeterias, restaurants, shops and boutiques for all tastes and pockets.
Filoti is the largest village of Naxos and the second most densely inhabited settlement of the island, after Chora Naxos. The island is culturally developed and caters to tourists with a number of restaurants, cafeterias and folk culture shops. The landmark of Filoti is its large square with the old plane tree that generously offers natural shade to the visitor in need of a place to relax, far from the crowds.
One of the best Greek, maybe even European, beaches is located 5 kilometers away from the city of Naxos. Its endless shore is 1,5 kilometers long, with white sand and rare natural beauty. Agios Prokopios is well organized, equipped with umbrellas and sunbeds, and is also available for water sports
Just a breath away from the city of Naxos you will find the beach of Agios Georgios, a crowded sandy beach with shallow waters. It’s preferred by families for the aforementioned reason, and because it’s well equipped, protected by the wind and has many nearby friendly bars and restaurants.
After presenting two ‘mainstream’ beaches, the third place belongs to an alternative, not so touristy one. ‘Psili ammos‘ means ‘fine sand’ in Greek. You will find the special Psili Ammos beach on the east side of Naxos, between Moutsouna and Panormos, with many high trees that create a tropical, isolated landscape, which is perfect for those who seek absolute quiet and relaxation.
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