The first image to greet visitors approaching the port of Naxos is the monumental marble gateway of the unfinished Temple of Apollo, which dates from the 6th-7th century BC. Standing on the tiny island of Palatia, which is connected to the mainland by a footpath, it is made of fine local marble. The Portara is a classic spot from which to enjoy the sunset.
The Venetian Castle
The commanding fortress town of Naxos, built in the 13th century by the Venetian Marco Sanudo, dominates a hill overlooking the port. The circular layout of the medieval settlement and its narrow labyrinthine streets are perfect for exploring on a romantic walk. Stroll among its 14th-15th-century mansions bearing the marble coats of arms of the Latin aristocracy, as well as its tower museums, picturesque squares, and atmospheric boutiques.
The churches of the Tragea Valley
The Tragea plain is home to 30 of the most important Byzantine churches in the Aegean, whose rare frescoes date from between the 6th and the 15th century. These extraordinary Byzantine monuments have led the region to be known as “The Little Mystras” of Naxos, after the well-known fortified town in the Peloponnese. They include the iconic Church of the Virgin Mary Drosiani, an architectural gem boasting the oldest early Christian frescoes in the Balkans.
One of the most authentic mountain villages in the Cyclades, with wonderful marble and stone architecture and rich folk traditions, especially in songs and painting.
Naxos Archaeological Museum
Housed in a 17th-century Venetian villa, this museum contains outstanding exhibits from the Archaic period to the early-Christian era.
The Venetian Towers
The thirty or more stone towers scattered around the Naxos countryside were built in the 17th century by the island’s Venetian feudal lords and Latin aristocrats to protect it against pirate raids. They include the beautifully restored Bazeos Tower (outside the village of Sangri) and the Barozzi-Gratsia Tower in the village of Halki.
The Kouroi of Naxos
Lying in various locations near ancient marble quarries are giant unfinished statues of young men, the Kouroi of Naxos, dating from the 11th to the 6th century BC), which never fail to astound. The largest can be found at Apollonas and Flerio (in the village of Melanes).
Gyroulas Archaeological Site
In the middle of a plain outside the village of Sangri are the splendid ruins of an ancient temple made of local marble and dedicated to the goddess Demeter. The imposing sanctuary (530 BC) and the small archaeological museum with finds from the temple testify to the area’s importance as a centre of worship.
The Emery Mines
The emery mines outside the villages of Apiranthos and Koronos are among the most important industrial monuments of modern Greece. The extraction of the precious mineral from antiquity to modern times has created a remarkable network of facilities that has been declared a protected cultural monument, and comprises tunnels, warehouses, and a cable railway.
The Monastery of Christ the Light-giver
Built in magnificent surroundings at an altitude of 500 metres among vineyards and fig trees, the island’s oldest monastery is a medieval tower decorated with stunning Byzantine frescoes and sculptures. There are breathtaking views of the Aegean from its ramparts.