Naxos, the largest and most fertile of the Cycladic islands, lies almost at the centre of the Aegean. Meadows running down to vast beaches, cliffs sinking suddenly into the sea,
rocky mountains side by-side with fertile valleys, abundant springs and streams are just some of the features of a natural environment marked for its variety. The coastline of Naxos is abrupt on the south side and more sheltered to the west, with numerous inlets and sandy beaches.The island is first heard of in the myths and then mentioned throughout every period of history, though it was at the peak of its glory during the period of the Cycladic civilisation. Naxos or Hora, built amphitheatrically on a hill-side on the northwest side of the island, is one of the most attractive towns in the Cyclades. As the visitor climbs from the harbour, where the imposing ‘‘Portara’’ (522 B.C.) stands on an islet, up to the Venetian castle (13th century), he will be struck by the beauty of the narrow winding lanes and the old stone houses lining them. Interesting monuments from various periods are to be found all over the town. They include fine Byzantine churches, the castle itself (with its tower and battlements), and traces of Mycenean buildings at Grota site. The Archaeological Museum of Naxos has some notable exhibits. Given that traces of Greek antiquity are to be seen everywhere, each part of the island has something of interest. Near the pretty coastal village of Apolonas, for instance on the north side of the island is a half-finished outsize kouros (statue of a youth), dating from the 6th century BC, still lying in the marble quarry where it was abandoned. Another such statue can be seen at Melanes. An interesting archaeological museum is to be found at Apirathos, a village where a number of odd customs and habits have survived.
Among churches of interest are those of Our Lady ‘‘Protothroni’’ at Tragea and Our Lady ‘‘Filotitissa’’ in the village of Filoti, close to which the Za cave is situated.
There are good swimming beaches at Agios Prokopios, Mikri Vigla, Kastraki, Agia Ana, Alikos, Pirgaki, Agiassos (on the west side), Apolonas, Psili Amos, Panormos, Pahia Amos and elsewhere. The superb beaches of Naxos, its attractive villages and its wealth of monuments draw thousands of visitors to the island each year. The good tourist amenities of the island make it easy to tour its innumerable charms.
Things to buy: Woven goods embroideries woollens honey various cheeses citron liqueur.
Useful telephone numbers:
Police: 22850 22100
Municipal Office: 22850 22717
Port Authority: 22850 22300
Archaeological Museum: 22850 22725
Airport 22850 23969