The largest of the Cyclades island group in the Aegean. It was the centre of archaic Cycladic culture.
The island is famous as a source of emery, a rock rich in corundum, which until modern time was one of the best abrasives available.
According to Greek mythology, the young Zeus was raised in a cave on Mt. Zas ("Zas" meaning "Zeus").
Homer mentions "Dia"; literally the sacred island "of the Goddess". Karl Kerenyi explains (speaking as if he were an ancient Greek):
“ This name, Dia, which means 'heavenly' or 'divine', was applied to several small craggy islands in our [Aegean] sea, all of them lying close to larger islands, such as Crete or Naxos. The name "Dia" was even transferred to the island of Naxos itself, since it was more widely supposed than any other to have been the nuptial isle of Dionysus.”
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 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 (according to the Athenians), or ascended to heaven (as the older versions had it). The Naxos portion of the Ariadne myth is also told in the Richard Strauss opera Ariadne auf Naxos.
The giant brothers Otus and Ephialtes figure in at least two Naxos myths: in one, Artemis bought the abandonment of a siege they laid against the gods, by offering to live on Naxos as Otus's lover; in another, the brothers had actually settled Naxos.
Zas Cave, inhabited during the Neolithic era, contained objects of stone from Melos and copper objects including a dagger and gold sheet. The presence of gold and other objects within the cave indicated to researchers the status of the inhabitant.
Emery was sourced during the time to other islands.
Classical era and Greco-Persian Wars
During the 8th and 7th centuries BC, Naxos dominated commerce in the Cyclades. Naxos was the first Greek city-state to attempt to leave the Delian League circa 476 BC; Athens quickly squashed the notion and forcibly removed all military naval vessels from the island's control. Athens then demanded all future payments from Naxos in the form of gold rather than military aid.
Herodotus describes Naxos circa 500 BC as the most prosperous Greek island.
In 502 BC, 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, and then to the Persian War between Greece and Persia.
ACTIVITIES IN NAXOS
EXPLORE THE RUSTIC, EPIC NAXOS
Naxos, ideally situated in the heart of the Cyclades, embodies all the values that made Cycladic islands worldwide destinations: white and blue sugar cubed houses and beautiful villages in dialogue with tremendous historic jewels…Castles, temples, statues and old churches; all sprinkled with sunlight and surrounded by breathtaking beaches, fertile valleys and glorious mountains. Like its famous landmark, Portara (door), which is located at the port of the island since antiquity to honor the god of light Apollo, Naxos is a gate itself, opening all sorts of wonderful possibilities to its loyal visitors.
A walk in the historic Old Town (Chora) of Naxos is essential for visitors that wish to connect with the important islands’ history. The Venetian Castle, the Archaeological museum, the impressive mansions with their arched doors and marble heralds give the impression of time travelling; In front of the Castle, lays the beautiful port: a dreamy promenade by the sea that leads to the temple of Apollo is so relaxing during sunset… An aperitif and a traditional dinner in one of the many picturesque local taverns is a great choice to feel the town’s joyful vibe.
Under the unique Cycladic light, the beaches of Naxos are famous for their purity and unspoiled natural setting of crystal clear turquoise waters and golden-white sand. Organised or untouched by civilization, the shores of Naxos follow the rich island’s contour, offering great choices for those who want a family or a sport’s oriented beach, quietness and isolation or luxurious beach services. The awarded Aghia Anna or the Aghios Prokopios beach, Psili Ammos, Plaka or Mikra Naxos to name a few of the islands’ beautiful beaches. Orkos beach, between Plaka and Mikri Vigla is the perfect hideaway of naturally created “private” bays; an environment of extreme beauty and transparent waters for hours of relaxing swimming.
The physiognomy of Naxos is highly formed by its charming and colorful villages which spread from the coastline, all the way up to the mythical islands’ mountains. Rural and calm, traditional and proud, Naxian villages exhibit towers and churches, mansions and picturesque paths leading to the impressive natural scenery that contours them. Apiranthos, is typical example of a gem island village, small and beautiful, with many interesting museums like the Geological Museum, the museum of Natural History, the Folklore Museum and the Aegean Children’s Art Museum. Chalki, the Tragea valley head village has such a unique color of byzantine charm; the pottery tradition village of Damalas is quiet and charming; the villages of Vivlos and Koronos or the traditional Keramoti share an authentic breeze… Each Naxian village has a different, unique character that will reward the visitors with their purity and genuine hospitality.
HIKING & TREKKING
Naxos features a rich network of footpaths, which are tracked, offering direct access to the islands’ most beautiful natural and cultural landmarks. At least seven important walking trails are organised by the Municipality of Naxos in order to highlight the islands’ rich historic features as well as the beauty and variety of the natural environment: the route that passes through the charming Tragea Valley leading to Ano Potamia or the one leading to the ancient sanctuary of Demeter and Kore, are definitely worth exploring.
Naxian products are well known for their quality and amazing taste; a fusion of the islands’ rich geographical variety and producer’s up to date mastery, that use traditional techniques in a contemporary, inspired work frame. Naxian meat, dairy products, vegetables -like potatoes or tomatoes-, and fruits, are among the most popular of Greece. Arseniko, local gruyere, ladotiri and myzithra are some of the famous Naxian cheeses, that can be tasted and bought at the shop of Naxos Cheese-Making Industry in Chora. In Naxos, one can find good quality honey, citron liquors and last, but not least, fine local wine.
Live the island experience to the fullest, by sailing around Naxos with a sailing boat or a yacht: leave your wet footprints on the wooden deck after a refreshing dive into a secret bay, have a cocktail on board, let the wind touch your face, see the sunset, count the stars, feel free… There are numerous organised and natural anchor points in Naxos to inspire a private or an organized sailing experience that will be hard to forget.
Island hop enjoying the friendly Cycladic waters in a sailing boat or a traditional wooden boat full of charm; there are many ways to visit the islands around Naxos and embrace the core of their outgoing spirit. Amazing views and dives in crystal clear waters that are only accessible by boat are enough to inspire your island hopping… the diversity and beauty of the surrounding islands like Iraklia, Donoussa, Schinoussa, Koufonissia or Paros, are a bonus.