The Island of Naxos

Naxos is a the largest Greek island at approximately 429 square kilometers or 166 sq miles in the Cyclades island group in the Aegean. It was the centre of the archaic Cycladic culture. The largest town and capital of the island is Hora or Naxos City, with 6,533 inhabitants according to the 2001 census. The main villages on the island of Naxos are are Filoti, Apiranthos, Vivlos, Agios Arsenios, Koronos and Glinado. The entire island had a 2001 population of almost 19,000.

Naxos is a popular tourist destination, with several easily accessible ruins. The most famous of these ruins is widely visible in Naxos City. It is temple entrance landmark known as the "Portara."

Naxos has a number of beautiful beaches, such as those at Agia Anna, Agios Prokopios, Alikos, Kastraki, Mikri Vigla, Plaka, and Agios Georgios, most of them near Hora. Naxos is the most fertile island of the Cyclades. It has an unusually good supply of water. At 999 meters, Mount Zas is the highest mountain in the Cyclades. It is largely responsible for the fact that Naxos has greater rainfall than most of the other Cycladic islands. This greater rainfall has made agriculture an important economic sector resulting in Naxos being the most self sufficient island in the Cyclades.

Naxos is also the setting for great Greek mythology. One legend has it that in the Heroic Age before the Trojan War, Theseus abandoned the princess Ariadne of Crete on this island after she helped him kill the Minotaur and escape from the Labyrinth. Dionysus, god of wine, festivities, and the primal energy of life, who was also the protector of the island, met Ariadne and fell in love with her. But eventually Ariadne, unable to bear her separation from Theseus, either killed herself, as told by the ancient Athenians, or ascended to heaven as more optimistic later versions theorized. The Naxos portion of the Ariadne myth is also depicted in the Richard Strauss opera Ariadne auf Naxos.

The Historical Club of Naxos “ARSOS” provides extensive and high quality information about Naxos. The importance of Naxos has been not only primary, in the long historical period, but also modulus in the history, not only of Cycladic but also of the wider Greek Territory. Naxos was always famous for the vast quantity of exported marbles, the emery, the many sources, the full of trees gardens, the beauty of the plains, the olive groves, the orange groves, the lemon groves, the citrons, the vines and the famous wine, the livestock-farming and cheeses but also for salt.

The first settlements of Naxos were established in the 4th millennium B.C., in the Neolithic Age. Archaeological finds testifies for a developed society at the dues of the neolithic civilization. Thracians are considered to be the first inhabitants of Naxos. According to tradition, Thracians dominated in the island for two hundred years. Carians succeeded them. They came from Asia Minor headed by Naxos who imposed his name to the island. The first major era for Naxos was the Cycladic, in the 3rd millennium B.C.

Naxos figured prominently in the Mycenaean age in the second millennium B. C. The archaeological finds from the Mycenaean and the Geometrical Ages, especially in Ceramics, characterized by a high degree of aesthetics, but Naxos became again a pioneer in cultural creation, at the Archaic Age, namely the 7th and 6th B.C. century. Around the 7th century B.C., an oligarchic society took shape, with many rich and powerful nobles. The population dealt mainly with agriculture, livestock, fishing, trade and arts. A famous statue of this age is Artemis at the National Museum of Athens that was dedicated to Delos by a woman from a rich family of Naxos circa 650 B.C.

Almost five hundred churches, in all styles and types and monasteries with fortress character, testify that this island had been a pioneer in the sculpturing of marble. The artisans from Naxos were coveted and appeared to be so rich, so as to dedicate themselves big and certainly very expensive pieces of art to gods. Further, the contribution of Naxos to the creation of the epoch-making form of Greek architecture and particularly to the marble Ionic order was decisive. The famous Lions of Delos were a famous gift to that island from Naxos. The famous Greek historian Herodotus described Naxos, circa 500 B.C., as the most prosperous Greek island.

In 502 B.C. an unsuccessful attack on Naxos by Persian forces led several prominent men in the Greek cities of Ionia to rebel against the Persian Empire in the Ionian Revolt. This led to the Persian War between Greece and Persia. In 490 B.C. the residents of Naxos again faced the larger attacks from the Persians. Most of them fled to the mountains and the ones remained in the city were captured and became slaves. The city was destroyed and temples were burned.

In the naval battle of Salamis people from Naxos defected from the Persians to fight on the side of Athens. Many inhabitants of Naxos fought at Plataea and the name of the island was in the honorary list of tripodos at Delphi and in the base of statue of Zeus at Olympia. After its destruction in the Persian Wars after which the island passed under the hegemony of Athens. After the fall of Athenian hegemony, it passed under the hegemony of the Spartans. In the 4th B.C. century Athenians and Spartans clashed for Naxos. Then the island passed from the influence of Ptolemaists of Egypt under the Macedonian and afterwards under the influence of Rhodes. After 41 B.C. Naxos came under the Roman Empire, in the Roman Province of islands located in Rhodes. Often the Roman used the island as a place of exile. Ecclesiastically, Naxos came under the church of Rhodes in the first Christian years.

During the 8th and 7th centuries of the Byzantine Empire, Naxos dominated commerce in the Cyclades. In 1207 the Venetian Marcos Sanoudos occupied Naxos and Andros and established the hegemony that was known in history as Duchy of Aegean Sea with its capital Naxos. However, frictions with Venice became inevitable and with the passing of time the Latin hegemony of the Cyclades became a protectorate of Venice.

Byzantine influence did not end with the fall of Constantinople in 1204 or in 1453, but continued everywhere in the Greek region despite the conquests. However, the island saw Geneva and Venice corrugating the sea in the fight for hegemony, felt the expansionism of Turks, the commercial competition of forces, the piracy, and felt in the body what means to be claimed of both, the Christendom and the Islam. The island felt the betrayal, the pillage, the implacable desolation; it saw the money, the merchandises, and people frequently change hands. Repeatedly the wine-cellars and the deposits of oil were knocked off and the residents were found between violence and injustice many times.

In 1536-66 began the period of the Ottoman domination. However Turks did not colonize Naxos and the other Cyclades. Few settled down in the islands, because of the fear of pirates, and few residents accepted Islam. The Turks seemed mainly interested in collecting taxes. But Latin Domination still existed up to the Greek Revolution of 1821. The Ottoman administration thus remained essentially in the hands of the Venetians. Turkish influence on the island is slight. Under Turkish rule the island was known in Turkish “Nakşa.” Turkish sovereignty lasted until 1821, when the islands revolted; Naxos finally became a member of the Greek state in 1832.

One culture succeeded the previous culture. Each new culture, in its effort to prevail by dismantling the previous, used the same materials, borrowed elements and adopted attitudes of previous cultures. And thus each culture continues to exist until today. Naxos constitutes a concrete example of this. Their churches remained free and could be built as wanted. The old laws and the customs remained, they could wear their local clothes and silk, the wine and the foods would be exempted from every tax on the islands.

People from Naxos rose in insurrection many times against the conquerors, Latin and Turks. In 1595 came a bold conspiratorial movement of representatives of fifteen islands in Naxos that aimed at the catalysis of Turkish Empire. They rose against Franks in 1563, in 1643, in 1670 and 1681. In 1821 Alexandros Ypsilantis sent people in the Cyclades with revolutionary proclamations which declared the Revolution on May 6, 1821.

Perhaps no one said it better than Iakovos Stef Kampanellis, a theatrical writer and academician who wrote “I used to believe and still believe that our country is the most beautiful country in the world. No other country is endowed with a nature full of pure, natural beauty and with equal treasures of civilization. Naxos is an authentic affirmation of all that.”

Island Home Naxos City Bay View
Ancient Clay Pots Monestary Front Door
Naxos City Courtyard Road to Hora
Side Street Garden Gate Arched Entrance
Rugged Coast Bell Tower Breakfast Nook
Hotel Room Azaleas Ocean Liner
City Shops Bay View of Hora Hotel Hallway
Old Bldg Bar Wall Door Sidewalk Cafe
Narrow path Harbor Ancient Clay Pots
Floral Alcove The Portara Village Pet
Crumbling Walls Hotel Balcony The Portara
Narrow Path Ferry to Crete Inn Table
Rugged Coast Garden View Roman Wall