The largest island in Cyclades
Traditional and beautiful, with a long history, Naxos, the largest and greenest island of the Cyclades cluster, is located south of Mykonos and east of Paros. It has an area of 428 sq km, a length of 33 km and a width of 24 km.
The territory is crossed by a mountain range from north to south with the highest peak, named Zas, at a height of 1,003 m. The eastern slopes are more steep and wooded, while the western slopes fall smoothly to the shore. The subsoil was rich from the old days, mostly of emery and white marble. The coastline has a length of 148 km. At the western coast, the bay of Naxos is formed, where is the capital and main port with the same name.
Naxos is a popular tourist destination, with many natural beauties, historical monuments and all the amenities for visitors. The town of Chora or Naxos, amphitheatrically built under the Venetian castle at the site of the ancient city, is the center of life, with motion, fine dining and nightlife. There are beautiful sandy beaches, especially in the west and south, and traditional villages, such as Apirathos, Galanados, Engares, Koronos, Apollo, Poramia, Filoti and others.
Naxos was inhabited since the Stone Age, as evidenced by the findings in the cave of Zas. Many Neolithic sites have been identified, as also sites from the early Bronze Age, when the Cycladic civilization was developed, particularly in Grotta, next to the capital.
During the historic times, after 1000 BC, Ionians came from Attica. In 736 BC, inhabitants of Naxos and Chalcis founded the first Greek colony in Italy, named also Naxos. During the Archaic period, in the 7th – 6th century BC, Naxos was the strongest island of Cyclades and flourished. It had great sculptors, and offered significant tributes to the sacred island of Delos. In 524 BC, the democratic Lygdamis took power with the help of the Athenians. Then a great temple of Apollo began to be built in the islet of Palatia, close to the city of Naxos. The three pillars that still stand – the famous Portara (Gate) – is the hallmark of the city.
In 501 it was besieged for four months without success by the Persians, who conquered it and destroyed it in 490. It took part in the naval battle of Salamis and the battle of Plataea and in 479 became a member of the Athenian League. In 404, came the Spartans, but in 376 it participated in the 2nd Athenian League. Then the Macedonians came, and after Ptolemy of Egypt, the Rhodians and the Romans.
During the Byzantine era, it belonged to the theme (province) of the Aegean. In 1207, it was conquered by the Venetian Marco Sanudo and became the seat of the Duchy of Naxos, knowing new period of prosperity. In 1537 it was conquered by the Turks and in 1660 was plundered by French pirates.