South of Apeiranthos

Four kilometres south of Apeiranthos, just before the main road to Chora begins to descend to Filoti, a sharp turn to the east climbs over the ridge to Danakos and the *monastery of Christos Fotodoti (15), ‘giver of light’, (left branch after 1km) the best preserved of the island’s ‘pyrgi’ monasteries, although in this case the monastery and church existed long before they were ‘encased’ in a pyrgos in the 16th century. The approach to the panoramic site, high on an open mountainside overlooking the east coast, is through an area scattered with magnificent oak trees.

The church here became a dependency of the monastery of St John on Patmos in the 16th century, which may explain the similarity of appearance—a square, castellated, tower with massive buttresses at several points. Its origins however go back to Early Christian times. The synthronon and walls of the three-aisled, original basilica have been preserved, al though the design was radically altered in the 16th century to turn the church into a square inscribed-cross plan, with a dome supported on columns and a narthex to the west. The interior gives a sense of space and unexpected lightness. The building of the high walls of the fortress all round in the 16th century, permitted the creation of an upper level for a refectory and cells, through which the cupola of the catholicon now protrudes somewhat oddly.

At the cemetery of the village of Danakos (26km from Chora, via Filoti), which lies in a ravine with watermills, is the 9th century church of Aghios Ioannis Theologos (X): it preserves a dedicatory inscription, and vestiges of an-iconic decoration in the north side of the apse.

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

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