“Big Sweet has this island, virtuous are the faces of people, piles are shaped by melons, peaches, figs and the sea is calm. I looked at the people – never these people have been frightened by earthquakes or by Turks, and their eyes did not burn out.
Here freedom had extinguished the need for freedom, and life spread out as happy sleeping water. And if sometimes was discomposed, never rose tempest. Safety was the first gift of island that I felt as walking around Nàxos.” (N. Kazantzakis, “Report to El.Greko“).
Naxos is the biggest and the greenest island in Cyclades with impressively high mountains, fertile valleys, lush green gorges, stunning seascapes and traditional villages. Filled with beautiful old churches, monasteries and Venetian castles that coexist harmoniously with Cycladic cubic houses.
Upon entering the port, resting on the islet of Palatia lies the impressive “Portára”, a marble gate of a 6th century BC temple of Apollo. According to mythology, the god Dionysus met Ariadni who had been abandoned by Theseus, met there.
Chora, the capital of Naxos, whose landmark is an imposing Venetian castle, is an old castle town with stone paved alleys (kalderimia) where you can admire a unique blend of Cycladic and Medieval architecture: mansions with Venetian blazons still decorating their entrances, narrow alleys with “stegadia” (arches), catholic churches and fortifications.
Traditional villages spread around the island, with a particular, “magical” character: Aperathos is a colourful mountainous village boasting five museums, stone-built houses, beautiful squares and narrow alleys paved with marble, and Panayia Drosiani, a beautiful church of the Early Christian Period! Filoti, built on the top of a rock, is a picturesque mountainous village surrounded by lush vegetation with cubic shaped houses and narrow stone-paved alleys. The 9th-10th century church of Panayia Protothroni, situated at a close distance, is the biggest Byzantine church of Naxos with murals of great value. The community of Sagri consists of five small villages (Ano Sagri, Kato Sagri, Kanakari, Kastraki and Mikri Vigla). You will feel admiration before the Venetian towers, the traditional windmills and a number of major Byzantine churches, like Ayios Mamas, all of which make Sagri the Mystras of Naxos albeit on a smaller scale! Close to Sagri lies the 6th century BC Demeter and Apollo sanctuary, made exclusively of white marble.
Naxos used to be the base of the Ducat of the Aegean. An abundant number of well preserved towers can be seen on the island, bearing powerful witness to the island’s glorious past. Explore among others the Bazeos Tower in Sagri, the Crispi-Glezos Tower (Chora), the Belonia Tower at Galanado and Della Rocca- Barozzi Tower (Chora).
Being the most fertile island of Cyclades, Naxos boasts a major agricultural production. Taste quality local products, like olive oil, potatoes, spoon sweets, the island’s famous liqueur (called “Kitron”), wine and above all the renowned cheeses of Naxos: graviera (hard cheese), xinomyzithra (sour myzithra, made of goat or sheep milk, yeast, and salt), xinotyro (sour cheese), arseniko (a tasty hard cheese made of goat and sheep milk) are culinary pleasures guaranteed to satisfy your palate!