Travelogues: danos >> Naxos-Paros-Mikonos-Dilos islands

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Trip Date:2009-06-17 - 2009-06-22
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by Danos kounenis (danos) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 10760 W: 21711 N: 291] (85085)
Naxos Island

Naxos (in Greek,is a Greek island, the largest island (429 km2 (166 sq mi)) in the Cyclades island group in the Aegean. It was the centre of archaic Cycladic culture.

The island comprises the two municipalities of Naxos and Drymalia. The largest town and capital of the island is Hora, sometimes called Naxos City, with 6,533 inhabitants (2001 census). The main villages are Filoti, Apiranthos, Vivlos, Agios Arsenios, Koronos and Glinado.

Naxos is a popular tourist destination, with several easily accessible ruins. It has a number of beautiful beaches, such as those at Agia Anna, Agios Prokopios, Alikos, Kastraki, Mikri Vigla, Plaka, and Agios Georgios, most of them near Hora. Naxos is the most fertile island of the Cyclades. It has a good supply of water in a region where water is usually inadequate. Mount Zas (999 metres) is the highest peak in the Cyclades, and tends to trap the clouds, permitting greater rainfall. This has made agriculture an important economic sector with various vegetable and fruit crops as well as cattle breeding, making Naxos the most self sufficient island in the Cyclades. Naxos is also known within Greece for its potatoes.

Mythic Naxos

According to a story in Greek mythology, the young Zeus was raised in a cave on Mt. Zas ("Zas" meaning "Zeus"). Homer mentions "Dia"; literally the sacred island "of the Goddess". Karl Kerenyi explains (speaking as if he were an ancient Greek):
“ This name, Dia, which means 'heavenly' or 'divine', was applied to several small craggy islands in our [ Aegean ] sea, all of them lying close to larger islands, such as Crete or Naxos. The name "Dia" was even transferred to the island of Naxos itself, since it was more widely supposed than any other to have been the nuptial isle of Dionysus. (Kerenyi 1951 pp. 271–272) ”

One legend has it that in the Heroic Age before the Trojan War, Theseus abandoned the princess Ariadne of Crete on this island after she helped him kill the Minotaur and escape from the Labyrinth. Dionysus (god of wine, festivities, and the primal energy of life) who was the protector of the island, met Ariadne and fell in love with her. But eventually Ariadne, unable to bear her separation from Theseus, either killed herself (according to the Athenians), or ascended to heaven (as the older versions had it). The Naxos portion of the Ariadne myth is also told in the Richard Strauss opera Ariadne auf Naxos.

The giant brothers Otus and Ephialtes figure in at least two Naxos myths: in one, Artemis bought the abandonment of a siege they laid against the gods, by offering to live on Naxos as Otus's lover; in another, the brothers had actually settled Naxos.

History
In 502 BC an unsuccessful attack on Naxos by Persian forces led several prominent men in the Greek cities of Ionia to rebel against the Persian Empire in the Ionian Revolt, and then to the Persian War between Greece and Persia.

Greek and Byzantine Naxos
During the 8th and 7th centuries BC, Naxos dominated commerce in the Cyclades.

The Dukes of Naxos

In the aftermath of the Fourth Crusade, with a Latin Emperor under the influence of the Venetians established at Constantinople, the Venetian Marco Sanudo conquered the island and soon captured the rest of the islands of the Cyclades, establishing himself as Duke of Naxia, or Duke of the Archipelago. Twenty-one dukes in two dynasties ruled the Archipelago, until 1566; Venetian rule continued in scattered islands of the Aegean until 1714. Under Venetian rule the island was called Italian: Nasso.

Ottoman Naxos (1564-1821)

The Ottoman administration remained essentially in the hands of the Venetians; the Porte's concern was satisfied by the returns of taxes. Very few Turks ever settled on Naxos, and Turkish influence on the island is slight.Turkish sovereignty lasted until 1821, when the islands revolted Naxos finally became a member of the Greek state in 1832.

Paros island

Paros (Greek: Πάρος; Venetian: Paro) is an island of Greece in the central Aegean Sea. One of the Cyclades island group, it lies to the west of Naxos, from which it is separated by a channel about 8 km (5 mi) wide. It lies approximately 100 nmi (185 km) south-east of Piraeus. Today, Paros is one of the most popular European tourist hotspots. The Municipality of Paros includes numerous uninhabited offshore islets totaling 196.308 km˛ of land. Its nearest neighbor is the Community of Antiparos, lying to its southwest. Paros also became known for its fine white marble which gave rise to the term Parian which is used for China and fine marbles worldwide.

Geography

Paros' geographic co-ordinates are 37° N. lat, and 25° 10' E. long. The area is 165 km2 (64 sq mi). Its greatest length from N.E. to S.W. is 13 mi (21 km), and its greatest breadth 10 mi (16 km). The island is of a round, plump-pear shape, formed by a single mountain (724 m (2,375 ft)) sloping evenly down on all sides to a maritime plain, which is broadest on the north-east and south-west sides. The island is composed of marble, though gneiss and mica-schist are to be found in a few places. To the west of Paros lies its smaller sister island Antiparos. At its narrowest, the channel between the two islands is less than 2 km wide. A car-carrying shuttle-ferry operates all day (to and from Pounda, 3 miles south of Parikia). In addition a dozen smaller islets surround Paros.

Paros has numerous beaches including Chrissí Aktí (Golden Beach, Greece) near Drios on the east coast, at Pounda, Logaras, Piso Livadi, Naoussa bay, Parikia and Agia Irini. The constant strong wind in the strait between Paros and Naxos makes it a favoured windsurfing location.

Εσωτερικά το νησί διασχίζεται από Β προς Ν από τέσσερα γυμνά όρη των οποίων υψηλότερες κορυφές είναι ο Προφήτης Ηλίας (750 μ.) και η Πάρπησσα, η Στρούμπουλας (730 μ.). Πηγαία νερά δεν έχει πολλά και τα περισσότερα υφιστάμενα βρίσκονται στη περιοχή του Δρυού.

Delos island

The island of Delos isolated in the centre of the roughly circular ring of islands called the Cyclades, near Mykonos, is one of the most important mythological, historical and archaeological sites in Greece. The excavations in the island are among the most extensive in the Mediterranean; ongoing work takes place under the direction of the French School at Athens and many of the artifacts found are on display at the Delos Archaeological Museum and the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.

Delos had a position as a holy sanctuary for a millennium before Olympian Greek mythology made it the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. From its Sacred Harbour, the horizon shows the two conical mounds (image below) that have identified landscapes sacred to a goddess in other sites: one, retaining its archaic name Mount Kynthos,is crowned with a sanctuary of Dionysus.

Established as a cult centre, Delos had an importance that its natural resources could never have offered. In this vein Leto, searching for a birthing-place for Apollo, addressed the island:

Delos, if you would be willing to be the abode of my son Phoebus Apollo and make him a rich temple for no other will touch you, as you will find: and I think you will never be rich in oxen and sheep, nor bear vintage nor yet produce plants abundantly. But if you have the temple of far-shooting Apollo, all men will bring you hecatombs and gather here, and incessant savour of rich sacrifice will always arise, and you will feed those who dwell in you from the hand of strangers for truly your own soil is not rich.