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Naxos Island, Greece

also known as Νάξος

Located in the center of the Cyclades archipelago, Naxos Island, known for its polymorphic landscape and enthralling beaches, is surrounded by Paros, Donoussa, Schinoussa and Koufonissia. Legend tells us that in the Heroic Age before the Trojan war, Ariadne of Crete was abandoned on the island of Naxos by Theseus and she would here encounter and fall under the spell of Dionysus, god of wine, festivities and the primal energy of life and likewise protector of the island. Their love story has a tragic ending, as Ariadne couldn’t stand being apart from Theseus and ascended to the heavens. Yet another mythological fact speaks of young Zeus being raised in a cave on Mount Zas (which means ’Zeus’).

The island of Naxos is known as the most fertile island of the Cyclades, with rich geographical relief which creates splendid scenery. The island thrives in the agricultural industry, has an outstanding water supply in an area where that is a rarity and is beautifully decorated with rich valleys, rivers, intriguing caves and splendid shorelines. This combination of elements and sheer natural bliss has allowed the inhabitants to be financially independent and the island to keep its authenticity, in a way that is not very altered by tourism.

Reigning the island is the glorious Mount Zeus, the highest peak in the Cyclades with an altitude of 1003 meters. The mythical mountain has an important role, trapping in clouds which ensures greater rainfall over the lush vegetation. As such, the island blooms in a wide palette of vegetable and fruit crops and even has a tradition in cattle breeding, permitting Naxos to remain autonomous to outside sources and virtually the most self-sufficient island among the Cyclades.

Within the Chora of Naxos (the island’s capital) resides the impressive Castle of Naxos Town, serving as an impenetrable shield of pentagonal shape, with three massive gates. Within it, near the northwestern gate, The Glezos tower, or the Krispi as locals call it, stands like a proud sentinel overlooking the city. While now under restoration, it is meant to become the foremost Byzantine Museum in the whole of Cyclades. Another majestic landmark is The Portara, or the Great Door, located close to the port, on the islet of Palatia which was once a hill.

Myth tells us that the islet of Palatia was precisely the place where Ariadne, the Minoan princess was abandoned by her lover, Theseus after he killed Minotaur on the island of Crete. The Portara, a massive marble doorway, stands proudly as a jewel of Nexos, welcoming its visitors. Located in the countryside of Naxos is The Statue of Kouros in Melanes, which definitely warrants a visit upon exploring this island. This outstanding statue can be spotted outside the village of Melanes and historians assume that the statue depicts gods Apollo or Dionysus.

Shorelines in Naxos are quite unique from those of different islands in the Cyclades due to their trademark length. Plaka is the longest beach, found on the western side of the island, where guests can also discover other Naxos shorelines with delicate sand, clear crystal waters and a delightful view over the neighboring island of Paros. Beloved beaches of Naxos include Agios Prokopios, Agia Anna, Orkos and Mikri Vigla, which particularly draws in windsurfers and kitesurfers. The western side of the island with this spectacular scenery is where most tourists lounge, as the eastern side is more isolated with untouched bays and governed by unmerciful wind.

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