Details and tales of Naxos Island, Greece

What’s so special about Greece that makes everyone want to visit it so much? Well, take just this little piece of the country for example… Out to explore Naxos Island, Greece.

Mood of the post: Beirut with Elephant Gun. Why? One, they’re mellow like the mood of Naxos Island and two, they will be playing in Berlin soon.

I took a short trip to Naxos last november, as I had to deal with some bureaucratic little issues – Naxos, besides from being the largest of the Cyclades archipelago islands, is home of many of the government’s offices. And jails. Nope, not my case. Not yet, at least.

When finished with my obligations, I was free to enjoy the pleasing part (thanks mom, for teaching me what comes first, although I only respect this motto 2 in 10 times).

As I had some free hours before catching the ferry back to Athens and dying of boredom for some 5 hours, I went for a stroll around the village of Chora, the island’s main one.

purple colored alleys of Naxos island

Thinking that you’ve heard the name Chora before? Curiosity number one from the Greek Guide of Costumes and Traditions I’m launching today: Chora means country, land, territory or region in Greek, and it’s the name of almost all capital villages in the islands. Well, at least among the Cycladic ones. Oh yeah, the Cyclades are islands on the south of Greece, and the archipelago’s name refers to the “islands around” (κυκλάς) the sacred island of Delos. If you take a look at the map, you’ll see that the islands look like they are circling Delos. They are more or so 30. More or so, because Greeks sometimes count rocks as islands. Small ones. But still, islands 🙂

a creamy yellow building corner agains the light blue sky of naxos island, greece

Naxos isn’t a small one, though. I mean, 429.785 kmare not believed to be just some few kilometers when considering the cyclades. Take Santorini’s size for instance, even if added to Mikonos’s total area, the sum isn’t still half as large as Naxos’s size. Both the first being the most visited and celebrated Greek islands.

detailed turquoise window on a creamy wall on naxos island, greece

Chora town is immediately attached to Naxos island’s port, and it’s the first grand view one has when stepping out the commercial passenger ferries that arrive daily. The Apollo’s Temple, or Portara (big door) is also easily spotted from the port and from Chora. The most famous landmark of Naxos island, this massive, 2,500-year-old marble doorway actually leads nowhere. It’s believed to have been dedicated to the god Apollo because it faces the direction of Delos (here it is again!), his birthplace. It is the gateway to an unfinished temple, for its builder, the tyrant Lygdamis, was overthrown before reaching his promised goal: To make Naxos’s buildings the highest and most glorious in Greece.

children playing in an alley in naxos island, greece

What I know is that the gods sure must have loved Naxos: it is the most fertile island in the Cyclades. It has a fair supply of water, in a region where most of it is inadequate for consumption. In the 8 years I’ve been living in Santorini I’ve learned that water is the most precious good around and the water bills are quite expensive, as they have to desalinate it. Not Naxos, thanks to Mount Zeus – the highest peak in all the Cyclades, that tends to trap the clouds, permitting greater rainfall.

detail of a blue window on a creamy wall of naxos island, greece

Because of the abundant water the agriculture has flourished in Naxos. It is a very important sector not only for the island itself but for many other islands around, that are supplied by food coming from Naxos. The vegetable cuts and cattle breeding make of Naxos the most self-sufficient island on the Cyclades. See, Greece is a super nature-rich country, although being so small in area. Every region or island is known within the country for its products specialties. Naxos island is known for its potatoes and well… cheeses. I could make an entire post on Naxos’s cheeses. Maybe one day I will.

detail of a light salmon door in naxos island, greece

Naxos island’s grand history features a war against the Persians, an occupation by the Byzantine Empire, a Venetian domination that lasted 4 centuries (when pirate attacks to the island were as common as the tourist ferries docking nowadays) and the Ottoman Empire controlling what they then called the Nakşa island, until Naxos finally became a member of the Greek state in 1832.

a painted ceramic owl

But before that all happened, even before Greece was Greece and still before the Greek Gods that inhabited the Olympus were ever invented (or born, ok), there was an archaic civilization living around the Cycladic islands – The Cycladic Civilization. We are talking about the Late Neolithic or Bronze Age periods. Pre-history. Men were still living in caves in most parts of the world. The Cyclades are well-known for the minimal female figures carved out of the super white marble found around the Cyclades, centuries before the rising of the great Minoan civilization in Crete, a bit south from Naxos island.

the sunset seen between the buildings of a narrow alley

And speaking of the Gods of the Olympus, which were the trendy stories happening back then? There is one related to a certain famous Minotaure from an almost-neighbor island: Crete. So, after Theseus fought the Minotaure and got out of the Labyrinth, rumor is that he abandoned his love and savior Ariadne in Naxos. Dyonisius (god of wine, festivities, and the primal energy of life), that happened to be the protector of the island, fell in love with her. But apparently none of those wine-showered and well frequented orgies of his were enough to keep her from killing herself, as it happens in the most drastic tales, or to ascend to heaven, as the oldest and politically correct version has it.

the port of naxos viewed from ruins of a building

After taking a moment of silence for the fate of Ariadne, let’s keep on strolling around the streets of Naxos, now armed with the knowledge of the past, failures and glories of this island that still has lots to offer (read: cheese. Just kidding!) 🙂

a venetian family's coat of arms relief-printed in a residence's mail box
A Venetian Coat of Arms on a residence’s wall.

 

a wooden beam made sealing with a tiny wooden windowon top of the wall

 

a blue painted wooden balcony agains a white building with blue windows

 

efzinNaxos

 

Tatiana Bastos Photography. More at instagram.com/tatyart11.

 

 

 

Published by

Tatiana Bastos

Born and raised in Brasil, studied advertisement at Mackenzie University in Sao Paulo. But from a small child knew to be taken head over feet by fine arts, illustration and photography. For that reason, studied at Panamericana School of Art and Design, also in Brazil, and then ventured to study at The Art Students League of New York, in Manhattan. After years of travels, decided to be based for half of the year on an inspiring island at the center of the blue aegean sea, in Greece, and the other half of the year on electric Berlin, Germany. Still a world traveller, healthy eater, art lover, diy do-er.

20 thoughts on “Details and tales of Naxos Island, Greece”

    1. Yes, the colors are characteristic of the Cycladic architecture. That’s why everyone is crazy about the Cyclades, because the white dramatic houses and pastels contrast better with the ocean and sky colors, and it becomes pretty impressive..! Santorini and Mykonos are also loved for the Cycladic architectural style, among stunning beaches and cliff views!

  1. Very well writen, Greece is one destination that everyone wants to visit for sure. Had not heard about this island before so this post was very informative for me. Great Blog!!

    1. Thank you for the kind words, Nupur! Along with caring for the photos, I alway try to write a light text but still have it inform people. Maybe being a guide in Greece for so many years helped it out! 🙂

  2. I’ve never heard of this island before but I must say your post enlighten my knowledge more about Greece. Your photos are stunning showing the wonderful architecture of buildings, and the historical ruins. Great post!

    1. Oh, I always get happy when given a good feedback on my photos, as it’s really a passion – to travel and photograph. And I then edit the photographs according to the vibe I want to pass with each post… Glad you liked them, Rose!

  3. Wow! Such beautiful pictures! This seems like such a warm and nice place to live and visit. Greece is definitely on my MUST VISIT list. Thank you for sharing these pictures and such informative info about this area.

  4. Greece is such a beautiful country. I’ hope to one day get to explore it myself. I’m unfamiliar with Naxos but it looks amazing.

  5. Love the photos. It’s been a while since I’ve been in Greece, but after reading your post, I totally wanna go right now! 🙂

    projectemme.com

  6. Awesome post and so inspiring! Planning a trip to Greece for this upcoming July and am torn between spending a few extra days in Naxos, or staying for just a night or two then heading over to Milos for a few nights. Any thoughts on that from your personal experience? Also, was wondering what camera/lens you use on your trips! Amazing shots!!

    -Brittni 🙂

    1. Hey Brittni! 🙂 Thank you! I use a Nikon 3300, lenses 18-55mm… I love this camera, as it is one of the best entry-level DSLRs, but it’s super affordable. As for your itinerary, I would definitely recommend that you go see Milos if you can! Naxos is beautiful, but a couple to 3 days there are more than enough. Make sure you rent a car so you can explore the beaches, as it is a big island! Milos is a volcanic Island and is beyond gorgeous and mesmerizing. Now, for you to reach Milos from Naxos, you can catch the SEAJET2 ferry (https://www.seajets.gr/en/) that goes daily for 60 Euros, or a much cheaper option, the ARTEMIS ferry from Hellenic Seaways (http://hellenicseaways.gr) for 17.50 Euros. Though ARTEMIS doesn’t run every day. Here is a very useful site showing the Greek Ferry’s Timetable: https://tickets.ferries.gr/index.php?step=itinerarysearch&aff=ferries&lang=el. I hope I could help! Any further questions, don’t hesitate on contacting me, or shoot me an email: [email protected]. -Tatiana

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