The terraced countryside of the island's interior belies a fertility not found on many of the other Cyclades. High above, are more towns to be explored, more wines to be tasted, more beaches to be discovered.
Naxos is almost as well-known for its ancient marble as neighbor, Paros. The Terrace of Lions at Delos and the marble sphinx at Delphi were both of Naxian marble. 15 km east of the main port of Chora, are the ancient marble quarries at Fleuris. There are two giant 6.4 meters kouroi still lying in an unfinshed state among the olive trees here. Statues were roughed out in the quarries and then sent, finished or unfinished to their final destinations. These kouroi were never finished for unknown reasons and have lain here for millenia since. Probably something to do with an overdrawn VISA card?
The original reason for the causeway was to build what was to be the most glorious building in Greece on the little islet. 522 BC, Lugdamis, the Naxian tyrant/leader, set in motion what would have been another of the Wonders of the Ancient World - a truly monumental Temple of Apollo. It is thought that a local war with the friendly folks over on Samos, brought the project to an end. Only the massive doorframe - lintel - remains, a 'door to nowhere', much to the delight of countless photgraphers looking for that perfect sunset picture.
Just north of the port, lies the little islet of Palatia. An ancient causeway was built, linking the islet to the main island. There is a small sandy beach curving around the causeway, protected by an ancient mole that was rebuilt in the relatively recent time of Marco Sanudo.
Chora is the port and capital of Naxos. Following the 1204 sacking of Constantinople, Venetians siezed many of the Aegean islands, following the collapse of Byzantine authority. Marco Sanudo captured Naxos in 1207 and gained supremacy over the other Venetians on the other islands, uniting them under the Duchy of Naxos. But the Duke wanted a bit more independence than the Doge and his people back home in Venice were willing to grant him, so he broke away from he Venetian 'Republic' and allied hiimself with the Latin Emperor, thus becoming the Duke of the Archipelago. Naxos was split up into 56 provinces and shared out among his officers. they ruled directly for 300 years. Even after the Turks came in the 1500's, they continued to rule - paying tax to teh Turks was enough to keep them happy.
The old town is clustered atop the hill above the harbor. There were two neighborhoods in the old town: Bouros, where the native Greeks lived and the higher up Kastro, occupied by the Venetian noblemen and their families. There is a Catholic Cathedral up here - founded by Marco Sanudo in the 13th Century. Some 19 Venetian houses still bear their old coats-of-arms. The waterfront is filled with cafes and restaurnts. Main beaches are to the south - bus or small boats take you out. The little island of Myrtidiotissa with its chapel, lies in the harbor, picturesquely.
You bet your life I slept soundly due to a combination of jet lag and 36 hours without sleep. In fact, Thanasis and Spyros had a hard time getting me up at 11.30 that morning. I woke from the most sound sleep of my then nearly 25 years. They wanted to go to the beach. They hadn't said anything about it before. Despite still being tired, I still hadn't lost that sense of adventure. The trick was summoning the requisite energy to get out of bed. I could have very easily crawled back in bed, but I didn't want to miss the beach. I managed to get down a little bread and a half a cup of coffee. We piled in 3 cars to go to the beach. It was a warm, but windy day, a perfect day to go to the beach. I sat under the umbrella for awhile and I went into the water. On the surface, it was round about 80? (27?C) but got colder as you got deeper, though not nearly as cold as the water at some beaches in northwestern Spain. Thanasis, Spyros, and I walked the entire section of beach.
One day we decided to visit Zeus's cave. I had a bad chest cold so the hike wasn't that fun but the views were really nice. Make sure you were good shoes because it can be rough going.
Naxos has some of the nicest beaches I've seen in Greece and although we stayed in the St George area we didn't go to the beach there as much as we did in Prokopios and Plaka.
The kouroi lie among olive trees that vie in age with the stonemen. The tree pictured is reportedly over 900 years in age.
From atop Palatia, the view back over flower-filled slopes is truly grand. The whitewashed town shines in the afternoon sun, much as it has for millenia.