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Naxos: green hills and beautiful beaches

Naxos (429 sq km, 19,000 inhabitants) is an island located in the Aegean Sea, in the archipelago of the Cyclades islands, north-west of Amorgos and east of Paros. This island which is the largest of the Cyclades, is a mountainous island whose top Mount Zas, the highest mountain in the whole of the Cyclades archipelago, reaches 1,003 meters high. The territory of the island is one of the most fertile in the Cyclades, its land is well irrigated and its agriculture is flourishing. It mainly produces fruit and vegetables, but also oil and wine. Cattle breeding is also very popular, dairy products such as cheese and yogurt are well known and appreciated.

The island is full of beaches especially on its western side, there are also many archaeological remains scattered on the island. The most important center is the town of Hora or Naxos which is located along the west coast of the island. All the ferries that connect Naxos to Athens and the main Cycladic islands arrive here. Naxos also has an airport connected by regular flights to Athens.

THE CAPITAL OF THE VENETIAN DUCHY OF NAXOS

The capital of the island, Hora or Naxos, is dominated by the fortress (Kastro) built by the Venetians in the thirteenth century. In the historic village there are ancient Venetian residences and medieval buildings that give the town a characteristic appearance. This town was in fact the capital of the Duchy of Naxos which controlled all the Cyclades.

In the Kastro area there are also two interesting museums: the Venetian Museum of the Rocca Barozzi and the Archaeological Museum. Interesting is also the visit of the Bourgos district under the Venetian Kastro. Near the waterfront of Paralia, on the islet of Palatia, which is located next to the port, there are the few remains of the temple dedicated to Apollo. Almost in the center of the island along the slopes of Mount Fanari is the suggestive mountain village of Apiranthos which houses three small museums: the Archaeological Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Geological Museum.

In the interior of the island and along its coasts there are towers and fortifications from the Venetian era. But there are also Byzantine churches and monasteries, archaeological remains, menhirs, necropolises and old mines. Naxos has numerous beaches, some of which are very beautiful, such as Agia Anna, located along the south-western coast. Next to it is Plaka beach, then those of Mikri Vigla, Kastraki and finally that of Pyrgaki. The east coast is also very beautiful, wilder with some enchanting bays such as those of Kalandos, Klidou, Psili Ammos and Panormos.

ANCIENT INCOMPLETE STATUES

In the northern part of the island are the bays of Apollonas and the beach of Abram. In the village of Apollonas there is a colossal unfinished statue (Kouros of Apollonas) of the seventh century BC. over 10 meters high. Two other unfinished statues (Kouros of Flerio) dating from the seventh or sixth century BC are located in the central area of ​​the island near the village of Melanes, about six kilometers east of the city of Naxos. A first unfinished statue is located in a garden, and is 4.5 meters high. While the other, 5 meters high, is in a stone quarry always near Melanes.

In addition to the coast, the interior of the island is also very interesting. The characteristic village of Halki located in the Tragaéa area, a flat area rich in crops, is famous for the cedar (kitron) which is still distilled here as in the past. A few kilometers north of Halki is the Panagia Drosiani an ancient church decorated with 7th century frescoes. In the southwest part of Halki near the village of Sangri is the so-called Castle of Bazeos, a tower built in the seventeenth century to house a monastery. About 1 km from Sangri are the ruins of the temple of Demeter.

Naxos was an important commercial center during classical antiquity and continued to develop until the Byzantine era. From the thirteenth century Naxos like all the Cyclades became possession of the Republic of Venice becoming part of the Duchy of the archipelago. In 1564 it became part of the Ottoman Empire to which it remained linked until 1832 when the kingdom of Greece was formed.

HOW TO GET TO NAXOS

FLIGHTS: The island of Naxos has a small airport with flights arriving from Athens.

FERRIES: Naxos is one of the best connected islands of the Cyclades archipelago. The island has in fact excellent naval connections with Athens (4.5 / 3.5 hours) and Rhodes (14 hours). Almost all the Cycladic islands are connected with Naxos. These include Ios (50 minutes by fast ship), Folegandros (30 hours by ferry), Syros (1 hour and 45 minutes by fast ship), Mykonos (40 minutes by fast ship), Santorini (1 hour and a half by fast ship), Paros (45 minutes by fast ship) etc.

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