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Naxos history throughout the ages

Naxos loves history and history loves Naxos as both her position in the center of the Aegean and her rich soil have made her famous over the centuries. The first references of Naxos are found in the mythology, where legend says that Thiseas left Ariadni on his way back to Athens. Then God Dionysos fell in love with her and took her to Olympus, the residence of the Gods. It is also said that Zeus, father of the Gods, grew up in Naxos.

History on the other hand mentions that the first inhabitants of the island where from Thraki, while later in Kares arrived in the island and their leader Naxos named the island after himself. Another version about the name of the island says that Naxos is a result of the ancient Greek word Naxai which means sacrifices, and is based on the sacrifices the locals used to do in order to honor the Gods.

Naxos was one of the top naval forces and the central of the Cycladic culture, as well as one of the leading centers of sculpture in Ancient Greece. A typical example is the famous lions of Delos which where sculptured by artisans in Naxos, while the archaeological findings show the powerful place of the island in Greece.

Over the centuries we find Naxos under the Byzantine rule, and the constant incursions of the Saracens. It’s during this period that most of the nowadays traditional settlements are built in the inland of the island in order to provide more protection. In 1207 the island passed into the hands of Markos Sanoudos and the Venetians and so began a golden period for Naxos as a powerful duchy. The Venetian presence is marked by the construction of the towers all over the island and of course the famous castle in Chora.

The Venetian era ends in 1537 with the occupation of Naxos by the Turkish and Barbarosa until the Greek revolution in 1821 and the annexation of the island in the fledgling Greek state in 1830.

Sightseeing in Naxos

The temple of Dimitra and Apollo

It is the most important archaeological site of Naxos, dating back to the 6th century BC in Gyroulas south of Sagkri. You can also visit the museum inside the archaeological site.

The chateaus

The inhabitants of Naxos used to build chateaus in order to protect themselves from the incursions of the pirates, and so the island is full of well reserved chateaus. Some of the most impressive are the tower of Cheimaros, the tower of Belonia in the village Galanado and the one of Zeugolis in Apeiranthos.

The Castle in Chora

The beautiful Castle in Chora was built after the conquest of Naxos by the Venetians and Markos Sanoudos. It is a typical example of medieval architecture and today inside the castle you can find the Archaeological Museum, the Monastery and the school of the Ursulines as well as the tower of Della Rocca Barozzi. Wander in the wonderful narrow streets, see the Venetian coat of arms, and enjoy the sunset as the sun “dives” in the Aegean Sea.


Apeiranthos village is located 25km away from the Chora of Naxos. At this picturesque village someone can find the five museums that cover almost the whole history of the island: the Archaeological museum “Michalis Bardanis”, the Folklore Museum, the Geological Museum “Petros Protopapadakis”, the Visual art museum and the museum of Natural History.