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NAXOS



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Naxos - CENTRAL AND SOUTHWESTERN NAXOS - ii.Chora - potamia - epano Kastro/tsikalario - Chalki - filoti - epano Kastro

Epano Kastro
As the road climbs up from Ano Potamia, the rocky height of Epano Kastro comes into view to the east (left). The castle can be approached from this side along a path signed from the road, or else from the east—from Tsi kalario which lies 5km further on (45 minutes’ climb by either route).
   Built on a knuckle of rock protruding from a boulder strewn landscape of dramatic dryness, Epano Kastro was constructed by the Venetians in the late 13th century so as to extend their control over the important and fertile interior of the ‘Trageia’—the plain which extends to the east and south of here. All-seeing and always visible, Epano Kastro functioned as a constant reminder of Venetian dominance in an area which was some distance from the island’s capital. The site was fortified in prehistoric times and a small stretch of late Classical walls in isodomic masonry is visible below the summit. The castle possessed two enceintes: the horse shoe shaped barbican with artillery emplacements (suggesting a later 16th century date) belonged to the outer ring; the curtain-wall higher up was the inner enceinte. It was rein forced by three rectangular and three semicircular towers, and enclosed an area with cisterns and living quarters. On the surrounding slopes are several, barrel-vaulted church es—Aghios Giorgios, the Metamorphosis, the Panaghia Kastriani­ and the two-aisled catholicon of the Monastery of Aghios Ioannis. The fortress ‘seemed by far the most inland spot we had yet visited in the Cyclades,’ Theodore Bent commented when he visited in 1883. There remains no trace of the hot springs which he was shown just below the summit, however.

Below Epano Kastro to the southeast, about half way between the castle and Tsikalario, lies an important and unusual cemetery of the Geometric period. (The tombs are to the south of the footpath to/from Tsikalario, reached by a path beside a stone wall which runs south and crosses a small, rocky ridge through a defile before descending to the cemetery.) The cemetery appears to be a collection of monumental family tombs on a plateau. The site is dominated by a menhir which stands over 2.5m high. The burial tumuli, some of which have a diameter of as much as 12m and were marked by circles of orthostats, are highly unusual for the period. Evidence of the funeral pyres at the centre of the tumuli has been found and a notable quantity of fine wheel-made pottery, painted vessels and jewellery (now in the Naxos Archaeological Museum): this dates mostly from the 9th and 8th centuries bc, and reveals contacts with Attica and other regions of Greece and the Aegean.
   In the village of Tsikalario is the church of Aghios Stephanos (D), with remains of 13th century painting. Uphill, c. 500m to the northeast is the ?7th century basilica church of the Taxiarchis Rachis at Moniki­a—a curious, domeless, three-aisled basilica now in ruinous condition, also with vestiges of early paintings.



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


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access

Naxos Island, Greece.

By boat:
Naxos has on average two or three connections per day throughout the year to Piraeus, and one or two each day to Rafina; the services all take cars, and the journey time typically varies between 4.25 hours (Hellenic Seaways Highspeed & NEL lines) and 5.5 hours (Blue Star Ferries). Nearly all services stop at Paros en route.
There are daily connections south to Ios and Santorini in the summer, either by ferry or Flying Dolphin: this reduces considerably in the winter to twice weekly.
The Express Skopelitis leaves Naxos at 3 pm every day for the Lesser Cyclades Islands, weather permitting.
By air:
Olympic Air currently runs one daily return flight from Athens to Naxos , with small craft only (c. 30 seats). The airport is 3.5km from Chora.

Naxos Travel Guide

eating

Naxos Island, Greece.

Of the myriad tavernas on the harbour front at Chora, the freshest fish and seafood is to be had at the minuscule, "To Steki tou Valetta", where excellent octopus and wine are served.
Of quite different character—elegant and with some carefully designed dishes—is Elli"s restaurant in the Grotta area of Chora.
For beachside eating, just outside Chora, Paradiso at Aghia Anna has good food, served at tables under trees on the sands.
One of the best of all fish restaurants on the island outside Chora is Michalakos at Moutsouna. For its setting by springs in the village of Ano Potamiá, the taverna Pigi is a joy—very popular with locals on Sundays.
Katsalis, under the plane trees in Filoti, is also to be recommended.
And for making a picnic from the best Naxiot wine and produce, the Tziblakis cheese shop on the main Papavasileiou Street in Chora is still excellent—even if in recent years the shop has become more self-conscious than before.

Naxos Travel Guide

further reading

Naxos Island, Greece.

Theodore Bent, The Cyclades (1885), reissued 2002 by Archaeopress, Oxford in the ‘3rd Guides’ series. For an excellent documentation of Byzantine Naxos , Giorgios Mastoro poulos, Νάξος, το ἄλλο κάλλος/ Naxos : Byzantine Monuments, Athens, 1996, cannot be bettered.

Naxos Travel Guide

lodging

Naxos Island, Greece.

For its size and importance, Naxos is poorly provided with good accommodations, outside the resort hotels.
The Chateau Zevgoli in the heart of the bourgo is the most charming place in Naxos, although its name promises more than it delivers and the rooms are small and over decorated (T. 22850 25201, fax 25200). The owner, Mrs Despina Kitini, also possesses a couple of spacious studio rooms up in the Kastro, which represent a good alternative: she can be found at the useful ‘Naxos Information Center’ which she manages, opposite the main ferry quay.
Karabatsi Studios, at Aghia Anna offer friendly, family hospitality of utter simplicity, at a short distance from the Chora (T. 22850 26440, www. dinaNaxos.com).
Of the resort hotels, Lianos Village at Aghios Prokopios, is comfort able and unpretentious (T. 22850 26366, fax 26362, www.lianosvillage.com).

Naxos Travel Guide

practical info

Naxos Island, Greece.

843 00 02
Naxos : area 389 sq.km
perimeter 133km
resident population 17,357
max. altitude 999m.
Port Authority: T. 22850 22300 & 23939.
Tourist information: Zas Travel (T. 22850 23330, fax 23419)

Naxos Travel Guide

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