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Paros: the island of beaches and marble

The island of Paros (196 sq km, 13,000 inhabitants) is located in the Aegean Sea, in the archipelago of the Cyclades islands, east of Antiparos and west of Naxos. Thanks to its beautiful beaches, tourism is the main economic resource of the island. Agriculture and fishing are also important. The island has an airport connected by regular flights with Athens. Paros is a mountainous island that rises up to 724 meters high with Mount Marpissa. The island has a circular shape and is famous for its marble quarries, with which many of the classical Greek antiquity statues were made. The main center of the island is Parikia (Paros), where ferries from Piraeus arrive. Another important center is Naoussa which is located at the north end of the island within a vast bay.

A STORY LINKED TO MARBLE

Thanks to its marble quarries, Paros was an important center in ancient times, with renowned sculpture schools. Like all Greece it was part of the Roman Empire and then of the Byzantine Empire until the thirteenth century. From the Byzantine era the island preserves numerous Orthodox monasteries and some museums rich in icons. In 1204 Paros together with numerous other Greek islands became the territory of the Republic of Venice with the name of the Duchy of the archipelago. The Venetian dominion in Paros was firm until 1537 when Paros was conquered by the Ottoman troops. Subsequently the island was part of the Ottoman Empire until 1832 when Paros became part of the kingdom of Greece.

HISTORICAL VILLAGES, BYZANTINE CHURCHES AND REMAINS OF FORTRESSES

The bay where the main port and the capital of the island, Parikia, stands, stretches out to the west and is characterized by a medieval village, the Kastro, with narrow streets and old houses, and a beautiful promenade full of life and clubs. There is an ancient church, the Panagia Ektondapyliani. This is among the most beautiful churches in the Cyclades, whose foundation dates back to the 4th century AD. it is the so-called church with 100 doors, formed by two churches and by the baptistery. Next to the church is the Byzantine Museum which houses sacred objects and icons. Not far from the church is another interesting museum: the Archaeological Museum with important finds found on the island.

Along the promenade towards Livadia beach there are the remains of a seventh century necropolis. Above are the remains of the walls of the Venetian castle of the thirteenth century. To the north-west, always in the bay of Parikia, there are the beaches of Krios and Agios Fokas. Southwards along the road to Aliki are the remains of a temple dedicated to Asclepius. Continuing south along the west coast is possible to reach the beaches of Parsporos and further south, beyond the small airport, that of Aliki.

THE SAINT-TROPEZ OF THE CYCLADES

In the north of the island is the other important inhabited center of Paros, the town of Naoussa, located in the center of a vast gulf that characterizes the north of the island. Naoussa is a village with a charming port, with narrow streets, Byzantine churches, and the remains of the Venetian fort. Naoussa is sometimes called the Saint-Tropez of the Cyclades. The town has a Byzantine Museum, which houses Byzantine and Venetian paintings and sculptures, and a Folklore Museum, which displays traditional costumes, a rich photographic archive and some archaeological finds.

In the bay of Naoussa (Plastira) there are the beaches of Kolymbithres, Monastiri, Piperi and Lageri. Above Kolymbithres beach is the Mycenaean acropolis of Koukounaries which dates back to 1,200 BC. and is believed to be the most important Mycenaean acropolis in the Cyclades Prefecture. The archaeological finds found in this area are exhibited at the Archaeological Museum of Paros. At the easternmost tip of the island, Cape Agias Maria, there is another beautiful beach.

Inland, in the south-eastern part of the island, the village of Lefkes, the ancient capital of the island, is interesting. The village has a beautiful cathedral (Agias Trias) and from here a paved path of Byzantine origin that reaches the nearby village of Prodromos. In the village of Marpissa there is the monastery of Moni Agiou Antonios with beautiful frescoes and located in a beautiful panoramic position. Then we arrive at the south-east coast where there are some of the most beautiful beaches of Paros: Kalogiros, Piso Livadi, Molos, Logras, Dryos, Hrysi Akti and Viva Punda.

HOW TO GET TO PAROS

FLIGHTS: The small airport of the island of Paros which is located in the south-western part of the island is connected by flights with the Athens airport.

FERRIES: Parikia, the port of Paros is frequently connected by fast ships with Piraeus (2 and a half hours) and Rafina (2 and a half hours) along the Attica coast. There are fast ferry connections with Ios (1 hour), Crete (Heraklion, 3 hours and 40 minutes), Mykonos (1 hour), Naxos (30 minutes), Santorini (2 hours), Syros (45 minutes) and Tinos (1 hour and 30 minutes). The other Cycladic islands are connected to Paros by ferries. There are also ferry connections with Rhodes (13 hours) and Kos (7 hours). The nearby island of Antiparos is easily accessible by ferries and excursions leaving from the port of Parikia and that of Pounta.

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