HISTORY in brief!
Naxos has been an inhabited island since prehistoric times, namely 4th millennium BC. Myth and history combine and weave the magnificent present of the island. According to Greek mythology, Zeus, the father of Gods, was raised in a cave on mountain Zas (Zas meaning Zeus in ancient local idiom). Dionysus, god of wine and festivities, met a local girl, Ariadne and fell in love with her and so the island was blessed with vineyards and fertile ground.
With findings scattered around the island, Naxos emerges from archaeological research as one of the most important centers of the Proto – Cycladic civilization. The visitor can also see important remains and valuable artefacts from the Mycenaean, Geometrical and Classical times.
Under the Byzantine Empire, Naxos was part of the thema of the Aegean Sea, which was established in the mid-9th century. In the aftermath of the Fourth Crusade, it was conquered by the Venetian Sanudo, as well as many of the Cycladic islands. Naxos became the seat of Sanudo’s realm, which he ruled with the title of Duke of Naxia, or Duke of the Archipelago until 1566.
Despite the Ottoman conquest thereafter, administration remained essentially in the hands of the Venetians. Very few Turks ever settled on Naxos, and Turkish influence on the island is slight. Ottoman sovereignty lasted until 1821, when the islands revolted; Naxos finally became a member of the Greek state in 1832.
In modern times, Naxos has been a commercial, tourist and agricultural center for Cyclades and the mainland, preferred by most for the unique identity of its land and its products.
There is a great number of monuments, museums and sites all over the island, including archaeological, historical, religious and industrial heritage ones.
Some of the sites worth visiting are:
- Apollo Temple’s entrance (Portara) which is located in the entrance of the island
- Temple of Demetra
- Sanctuary of Dionysus (Yria)
- Sanudo tower, part of the Duchal Palace
- Archaeological Museum of Naxos
- Byzantine Museum of Naxos housed in Crispi Tower
- Three gigantic unfinished Kouros statues dating back to the Archaic period (7th-6th century BC)
- Cave of Zeus
- Castles, Churches and Venetian towers scattered around the island
- Windmills at Tripodes
- Emery mines and Emery Transportation Cable Railway
- Byzantine Churches and Monasteries (e.g Panagia (Virgin Mary) Protothroni in Sagri)
For nature lovers, other interesting sights include:
- Alyki wetlands
- Cedar Forest of Alyko
- Aries Spring
Locals are really proud of their rich heritage, so do not hesitate to ask for more suggestions and ideas!