Archaeological Sites to Visit in Naxos Island

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Naxos is big a Greek island located in the Aegean Sea and part of the group of the Cycladic Islands. This favorite touristic destination is an ideal place to visit also during the low season. Its rich history has left a tangible mark that visitors interested in archaeology should take the time to visit. Here are a few of must see sites.

Naxos went through different historical eras and each of them can still be perceived when exploring the territory. Different archaeological findings prove the presence of an advanced society. Among the several discoveries several thousands of years old, there are temples as well as Naxos’ famous Kouroi.

Kouroi in Melanes, Naxos (Courtesy of Gabi Ancarola).
Kouroi in Melanes, Naxos (Courtesy of Gabi Ancarola).

Three ancient Kouroi, dating back VIII to VI centuries BC, also find their home in Naxos. These represent free-standing, ancient Greek, nude young males. The kouroi from Naxos are impressive in size.

The Sanctuary of Demeter, also known as the Temple of Sangri, is a Late Archaic Greek temple probably built around 530 BC It represents one of the earliest buildings in of Ionic order and it was completely made of local marble.

Temple of Demeter in Naxos, Greece.
Temple of Demeter, Sangri (Courtesy of Gabi Ancarola).

After a visit to the temple, it is also a good idea to spend some time in the small museum of the sanctuary which exhibits sculptures and the rest of the temple. There are also parts of a late Christian temple, built on the site when the sanctuary was torn down. The museum also exhibits pottery, vases, and jewelry.

The entrance to the archaeological site and museum is free.

Museum, Naxos, Temple of Demeter.
Museum in the Archeological site of Sangri (Courtesy of Gabi Ancarola).

Without any doubt, however, the Portara, or Great Door, remains the most famous archaeological presence on the island. This massive marble doorway stands close to the port, on an islet called Palatia or the island of Ariadne connected to the mainland with a strip of land.

Portara, Naxos (Courtesy of Gabi Ancarola).
Portara, Naxos (Courtesy of Gabi Ancarola).

According to Greek mythology, this was the place where the Minoan princess Ariadne was abandoned by Theseus after he killed Minotaur on the island of Crete. The Portara is part of a temple which was supposed to be built in the honor of Apollo, the fact that the temple faces Delos, believed to be Apollo’s birthplace. Other scholars believe that the temple was going to be erected to honor Dionysus, the God of wine and patron God of Naxos.

All these facts explain why Naxos has always been an interesting place for archeologists and those with an interest in history and culture. The island’s extension, its central location in the Aegean as well as the richness of the soil have made it a self-sufficient territory, which allowed important developments.

The main town of Naxos, Chora, seen from the islet of Ariadne, the Portara (Courtesy of Gabi Ancarola).
The main town of Naxos, Chora, seen from the islet of Ariadne, the Portara (Courtesy of Gabi Ancarola).

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