Four Knockout Ancient Sites in Naxos

In the Cyclades, Santorini tends to steal most of the attention. However a ferry ride up north in the chain lands the traveler to visions of rocky mountains, sandy beaches, villages trapped in time and scents of strong cheeses. Naxos is not only the largest island of the group but it also boasts a rich history. Inhabited for 6,000 years, Naxos is garnished with Byzantine, Venetian and Frankish touches. However, its ancient sites and attractions are also worth a gander.
Temple of Apollo: If you arrive to Naxos by way of its main port in the city of Hora, you will probably spot Naxos’ first impressionable ancient ruin. Perched up on a hill, the Temple of Apollo, or what’s left of it, has foundations in 530 B.C. Tyrant Lygoami aspired to make Naxos home to some of the highest buildings in Greece. While his work would never come to fruition, pillaged for scraps after his death, the temple’s doorway is the sole survivor. It is thought that the doorway was too large and heavy to move. Often called Portara, the ancient opening to Naxos should be seen at sunset when the light bounces off of the ruined temple and on to Hora behind it.

Kouros at Apollonas
: On the northern tip of the island, the tiny community of Apollonas holds one of Naxos’ revered ancient treasures. Located on the hillside above the village, literally just off the road, you can climb up a few steps to see a seventh century B.C. statute. The kouros from the Archaic period measures over 30 feet tall and even has a beard. The sleeping giant is thought to have been for a temple, but it was probably abandoned due to a crack in the stone.

Temple of Dimitra: Located on Naxos’ central plateau just south of Sangri, the Temple of Dimitra greets travelers in dramatic fashion. As you travel the zigzagging road to reach this ancient site, you can spot the white marble columns of the former temple. The Temple of Dimitra dates back to 530 B.C. It was partially taken apart in the sixth century A.D. when a church was built over it. Luckily archaeologists have been able to restore the temple to its former glory. There is a small museum on site with reconstructions and finds from the temple. The Temple of Dimitra is significant in that is one of only a few square plan temples in Greece.

Kouros at Flerio:
Just east of Hora, Naxos’ main town, you can stumble upon more of the island’s ancient giants. In the village of Flerio, you can explore the ancient site complete with a cult sanctuary to the goddess of fertility and two more monumental statues. One kouros hails from the sixth century B.C. while the other dates back to the seventh century B.C. One surrounds in a garden while the other lies in a permanent slumber after a little hike through farmland.



Author: Giouli Voka

Share This Post On

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *