East and southeast of Apeiranthos:
Moutsouna to Panormos

(This is an excursion of 28km each way, from Apeiranthos down to the deserted southeastern extremity of the island, with only the same road to return by. There are no petrol facilities on the route.)

For the last 5km of the descent through the hills to the coast at Moutsouna, the overhead cable-way which comes from the emery mines at Stravolangada and crosses the ridge, can be seen to the north. This ambitious project was necessary because the only harbour deep enough to receive cargo ships for loading the emery blocks was Moutsouna (36.5km from Chora). Some of the buildings of the loading station can still be seen by the shore. Moutsouna is a tranquil fishing harbour nowadays, with two good fish tavernas, and an attractive beach at Azala, 1.5km to its north.
   In the foothills to the interior of the coast there are many isolated Byzantine churches, most of them in a state of ruin. Just visible from the road at Ligaridia, 2km south of Moutsouna, is the unusual, flat-roofed church of Prophitis Elias Vlachaki (W) with 13th century paintings inside. (A track leads west, inland for 1.5km, from which a footpath climbs up to the south: access difficult.) The church appears to be built on the site of a prehistoric fort. This is not an uncommon occurrence on this eastern seaboard of Naxos , which was populated with settlements in pre historic times, and has proven to be archaeologically rich. The limestone slabs with prehistoric, ‘pecked’ reliefs dating from the 3rd millennium bc, exhibited in the museum of Apeiranthos, come from a panoramic site, by Kleidos Bay (48.5km), known as Korfi­ tou Aroni­ou, about half way between Kanaki and Panormos.
   The most dramatic and beautiful of all Naxos ’s prehistoric sites, however, is above the sheltered bay of Panormos (54km). At this point, Koufonisi and the other islands to the south seem so close across the generally calm sound of water that this settlement feels no longer a part of Naxos , but part of the wider community of these islands instead. The hill to the west of the bay forms a natural acropolis: on its crown, an Early Cycladic citadel of the 3rd millennium bc has been excavated. The paved entrance (running due east/west) flanked by stone ‘benches’ to either side, leading to a gateway made of larger blocks, is well-preserved and clearly visible, while inside is a tight-knit web of building foundations and alley-ways. The defensive walls here may have been added after the founding of the settlement, in the face of dangers perceived by the inhabitants at the end of the Early Bronze Age. The higher hill, a little way to the north, is crowned with what appear to be Byzantine fortifications, which are built in part over ancient walls. This was an important surveillance point in all periods: today it is a place of great beauty and tranquillity.

Naxos Island is part of the Cyclades Island Group, Greece.

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