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Island of Naxos
 
     
The inhabitants of Naxos are blessed with living on a fertile and self-sufficient island. In the mountainous inland villages, such as Koronos, Atsipapi, and Mirisis, one may see villagers tending their vineyards and vegetables on age-old parapets running along the mountain slopes. At the lowland villages, the famous Naxian potato is cultivated. A traditional fragrant liqueur is made from citrus leaves. Before you leave the island, don't forget to buy some local cheese, such as spicy arseniko (=male) kefalotyri, fresh xynotyro, or xynomytzithra.
Up on the hill of Chora the imposing Venetian Castro (Castle) is situated, an impressive monument of the long years of Frankish domination. Its wonderful Manor Houses, featuring some quite decorative Venetian blazons, are still inhabited almost exclusively by Roman Catholic descendants of those Venetian conquerors of old. The medieval street layout has been kept intact within the Castro. All houses situated along the Castle's periphery are actually its wall, and all alleyways lead to its central square, where the Roman Catholic Cathedral and the central tower are situated. It is to that distant feudal age that the imposing stone-made tower-houses (pyrgospita) can be dated, which are to be found dispersed across the island.

 

 
 
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  Of the archaic temple of Apollo, whose building started in the 6th century BC on the isle of "Palatia", at the left of the Naxos port, only the marble gate has been preserved, the Portara, as is called by the locals. One can enjoy here what is probably the most beautiful sunset in the Aegean. It is on this isle that the hero Theseus, in Greek mythology, left his paramour, princess Ariadne of Crete, who was later discovered by the wine-god Dionysus and was united with him.
If you' re looking for something different, then why not go for a quiet swim at Alyko, or at neighbouring Pirgaki, to the island's southwest. A vast sandbeach with dunes that have been sculpted by the winds, and a cedar forest that is unique in Greece, make an exotic landscape.
A real treasure is hidden in Naxos' Byzantine churches, which can be dated as far back in the past as the 7th century AD, and as late as the 14th century AD. Successive layers of Byzantine frescoes of unique value and impportance are still preserved in the paleochristian churches of Panayia Drosiani at Moni, of Panaghia Protochroni at Halki, of St. George Diasoritis, of Aghia Kiriaki at Apeiranthos, and in many other Byzantine churches of the Naxian island. The Ascension service (on August the 15th) at Panaghia Drosiani is a unique experience.
 
     
 
 
 
Map of Cyclades Islands
Map of Naxos
 
     
  Naxian marble was abundand and high quality in antiquity, and the pioneering marble workers of Naxos were soon much coveted. Amongst their surviving works of particular interest are two unfinished Kouroi of superhuman size, dating to the 6th and 7th centuries BC, which had been left lying in the quarries at Melanes and at Apollo. The sanctuary of Dionysus at Iria and the all-marble temple of Apollo and Demeter at Sangri are splendid specimens of early Ionian architecture, which are now being wonderfully restored and preserved.
Emery, or "Naxian soil", Naxos' once much-coveted, multi-use mineral, has nowadays fallen from the markets' grace. It remains crammed in storehouses at Moutsouna, or just outside the mines' mouths on the road leading to the emery-producing villages of Koronos. The cable-cars that are left hanging inert noeadays were once used to transport emery to the port of Moutsouna, whence was forwarded to markets abroad.
 
     
 
 
 
 
     
  Far away from the tourist crowds swarming the beaches, Naxos' mountainous areas emanate their own authentic charm. The road proceeds past verdant valleys and olive gardens, goes up on the bare mountains with their mythic caves and their magnificent view to the sea, stops at the villages' well-shaded squares and leads to ancient monuments, Byzantine temples, Venetian towers, and abandoned water mills. The town of Filoti throbs with life, and "marble-made" Apeiranthos with its authentic Naxian architecture and small gems of museums makes for a pleasant surprise.
A great many ancient towers can be seen on the island - once upon a time they rendered a valuable service to the island's protection against pirate incursions. The most impressive of all is the circular tower of Himarros, an excellently preserved 4th cent. BC building, which (one can imagine) provided a convenient defensive bulwark for both ancient and later Naxians.
 
   
   
   
   
   
 
   
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