NAXOS



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Naxos - CENTRAL AND SOUTHWESTERN NAXOS - iii.Chora - galanado - sangri - apaliros - aghiasos - Aghios Sozon - Apaliros Castle

Apaliros Castle
Looking from the Temple of Demeter, the southeast horizon is dominated by the oldest of the surviving mediaeval fortresses on Naxos , Apaliros Castle (475 m a.s.l.). (A track leading east from a point 2km south of the Bazaios Tower— just beyond the turn, west, for the Temple of Demeter— passes over a torrent bed, through a settlement and ends: a 45 minute climb southeast from where the main track ends, brings you to the castle.) More than a point of surveillance and defence, this was a refuge to which the local population and their livestock could retreat in times of threat. The enceinte is large (c. 300m x 80m), and the remains of cisterns, houses and churches, suggest that there was a permanent living community here.

There were probably prehistoric fortifications on this site, but the castle itself was begun in the 8th century, as a vital protection against the first Arab raids. It became the main stronghold of Byzantine Naxos . The sea is visible, but the site itself is a sufficiently protected distance from it; it dominated the main areas of agricultural production in the south of the island and was quickly accessible from them. When Marco Sanudo came to Naxos in 1207, he landed to the south of here, burned his ships and took five weeks to capture this stronghold from a group of Genoese freebooters who were holding it. Afterwards he built his own castle in Chora and left this one unaltered, so that it remains in form and design substantially an Early Byzantine fortress. The walls and the fine semi-circular bastion have remained in good condition at the north west corner—the castle’s most vulnerable point. There has survived a remarkable number of vaulted cisterns (more than 30), amongst the ruins of the houses in the interior. Towards the eastern edge are the remains of the 8th century, church of Aghios Giorgios, with two aisles and apses, and a second church added to its south side.

In a remote and beautiful valley, 2km as the crow flies to the east of the castle is the church of Aghios Giorgios at Upper Marathos (M), with 13th century paintings and unusual architectural design. (3.5km south of Bazaios Tower, a track leads east towards the south side of Apaliros Castle, ending after 2km below the southwestern ascent to the castle; a path for a further 3km skirts south, round the hill and climbs the valley eastwards up to Aghios Giorgios. Allow 3 hours, re turn). This is a fine and idiosyncratic church in a wild and dramatic mountain setting. It comprises a main domed aisle (with unusual intersecting vaults creating groin-ribs in the dome), an adjoining barrel-vaulted chapel to the south, and a domed narthex to the west. The church’s late 13th century paintings of considerable accomplishment are preserved, amongst which are figures of patrons.


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


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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