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NAXOS



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Naxos - CENTRAL AND SOUTHWESTERN NAXOS - mount Zas and Zas Cave

Mount Zas and Zas Cave

The road for the Cave of Zas branches west 1km after Filoti (20km), as you head towards Apeiranthos. It finishes after 1.3km at the plentiful springs of sweet water at Aries which rise in a break of plane-trees offering stunning views as far as the sea to the southwest, along a gorge scattered with oak, cypress and olive trees. From the spring it is a 25-minute steep climb up a torrent bed to the cave which lies to the left just above another, weak spring. The combination of nearby fresh-water and protection which the cave affords has appealed since earliest times, when Neolithic man both dwelled and buried his dead within this cave. The remarkable finds from this period in the cave have included clay seal-impressions—objects which suggest the evolving need to identify property which was personal to one family or group. Copper tools were also uncovered. But the most dramatic find here has been a small beaten gold strip (now in the Naxos Archaeology Museum, see above), dating from the 5th/4th millennium bc, which indicates probable trade communication with the Northern Aegean and Macedonia. The piece is perforated at its four corners, as if for stringing as an item of jewellery. Through out the Bronze Age the cave continued to be used; thelow transverse wall inside the entrance to the cave dates from this period.
   From the cave, the summit of Zas (999m) can be reached in a further 45 minutes. This approach is particularly steep. The longer approach from the north, leaving from the road to Danakos, close by the church of Aghia Marina, is more gradual (90 minutes). Zas is the high est peak of the Cyclades, sacred to Zeus, with whom its name is cognate. This is the best area for glimpsing the colony of Griffon vultures which inhabit this mountain ridge, recognisable by their deeply ‘fingered’ wings raised stiffly in a shallow ‘V’ above the body. The area also hosts Bonelli’s eagle and Long-legged buzzards, as well as both Peregrine and Eleanora’s falcon. Rare and endemic plants include the Erysimum naxense—a yellow-flowered, upland cress—and ‘hare’s ear’, Bupleurum aira, both of which grow on the upper screes of the ridge. The Galanthus Ikariae snowdrop, found only in a few of the Aegean islands, also can be seen here at the higher altitudes when it flowers in March.


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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