Paros - Lefkes and the central and southern loop - Around Marpisa and Kefalos hill

Around Marpisa and Kefalos hill

The east coast of the island is dominated by two uniform conical peaks—Kefalos and Antikefalos—which rise from the shore with a regular gradient to their summits of c. 170m, like two gateposts framing the sweep of Molos Bay. The area inland is rich in water below the surface and there are several settlements which have their roots in Antiquity. Like Lefkes, the village of Pro dromos (14.5km) is built as a small, mediaeval kastro, with a web of typically Cycladic streets within. The centre can only be reached through one of a series of gates or small tunnels, the eastern one of which is crowned by a belfry, shared by the two 17th century chapels to either side. The village’s former name of ‘Dragoulas’ comes from the sanctuary of Apollo Tragios, who must have preceded Aghios Ioannis Prodromos as protector of the area. In the village 500m to the east of Pro dromos, there are quantities of marble elements and spolia from some large pagan sanctuary— so many that the village has taken the name ‘Marmara’ (15.5km), or ‘marbles’. There are column drums built into the houses and into the walls of both the central churches of the village—Aghios Savvas, which has a fine example of the local kind of intricate stone belfry, and the church of the Panaghia Septemvriani­, or ‘Panaghia Pera’. The doorstep of the latter is made from an ancient bound ary marker, which bears the clear inscription ‘Η ΟΡΟΣ ΤΟ ΙΕΡΟ’, ‘boundary of the sanctuary’ at the right-hand end. The village water fountain and well-house, a little way to the north, is ringed by a series of massive marble, column-drums, which have been given a concave upper surface so as to act as basins. These must have belonged to a large Doric temple of the Classical period.
   On the lane running due south between Marmara and Marpisa (16km) is the small fortified monastery of the Pantocrator, with the turreted, four-square appearance of the Venetian pyrgi that are found on Naxos . Tightly fitted into the interior space is the domed catholicon and the abandoned cells. From the cemetery of Marpisa, a track leads up to the monastery of Aghios Antonios on the summit of Kephalos Hill (open July & Aug 9–1, 5–8; otherwise the key needs to be obtained from the pappas in Pro dromos).

   The present 16th century monastery buildings, dedicated to St Anthony the Hermit, are built on the ruins of an earlier, 14th century Frankish church. This stood at the heart of the fortifications which were begun in the same period by the Sommaripa Dukes of Paros and Andros. The castle was later enlarged considerably by Nicolo Sommaripa in c. 1500, who moved his headquarters here from Parikia. This process of enlargement can be seen in the three enceintes which originally girded the hill, but which are now difficult to perceive in places: the first is passed through by the road, low down on the hill; the second is crossed just below the ruined churches on the southeast side; the third protected the crown of the hill. The last lord of the island, Bernardo Sagredo, held out in this castle against Khaireddin Barbarossa for four days in 1537: he escaped and returned to Venice after the island fell to the Turks. The two ruined chapels just below the summit which incorporate several pieces of ancient masonry date from the turn of the 15th century.
   The monastery itself and its courtyard contain many ancient capitals, columns, and other architectural elements, suggesting that the site may formerly have been occupied by a pagan sanctuary in the Archaic and Classical period. Certainly, the site is a natural gift both for prehistoric settlement and for later cult. The catholicon has a three-aisled, inscribed-cross plan, with two domes. The interior still con serves large areas of 17th century wall-paintings, in a style similar to those by the ‘Sakellarios Mostratos’ in Aghios Ioannis Theologos in Naousa. The most striking element of the interior is the pulpit, which is supported by a slender marble column standing on an upturned, Ionic capital of Archaic design. In the sanctuary are marble escutcheons of the Sommaripa and other Venetian families, and an elaborate 18th century ciborium.

   The two chapels below the summit of Kefalos are among the earlier surviving churches on the island. One of the earliest of all, stands just above the shore to the north of Piso Livadi (17.5), directly to the south of the hill. The simple, vaulted church of Aghios Giorgios Thalassitis, in un-plastered stone, dates from the 13th century, and contains some fine icons. Its walls incorporate marble elements from an Early Christian building.

Travel Guide to Paros & Greece


Paros Island, the Cyclades.
By air: Olympic Air operates two 35-minute flights between Athens and Paros daily. The airport is 10.5km from Parikiá.
By boat: There are generally two daily car-ferry connections (4hrs 30mins) to Paros from Piraeus (most regularly with Blue Star Ferries) in the summer, with frequency drop ping in the winter. This is augmented in the summer months (late June– late Sept), by up to four high-speed services daily (minimum 3hrs journey), divided equally between the ports of Piraeus and Rafina for Athens. These services provide an average of three onward connections daily to Naxos , Ios and Santorini.
Paros Travel Guide


Paros Island, the Cyclades.
Paros, -Levantis, on Agora Street in Parikiá, is one of the best places to eat in the Cyclades, for food that is refined and yet still Greek: the setting is simple and unpretentious, the cuisine sophisticated and delicious, and the service attentive and pleasant. More expensive and with a refined menu which offers nonetheless some excellent dishes, is Daphne in Gravari Street. Amongst the myriad eateries around the three harbours of Náousa, the easternmost taverna on the north shore, Glafkos, has excellent seafood and welcoming service. Le Sud is also good for more var ied and sophisticated cuisine. In Léfkes, "I Pezoula tis Lichoudias", is tiny, and undoubtedly a little artificial, but some of the home-made Greek dishes are nonetheless traditional and of local inspiration.
Paros Travel Guide

further reading

Paros Island, the Cyclades.
Thomas Hope’s Anastasius, or Memoirs of a Greek, first published in 1819, is partly based on Nicholas Mavrogenis (see p. 34–35) of Paros and his world and times. The book caused a sensation when it was first published in London; Byron privately admitted that he wished he had been its author. A paperback edition was reissued in 2001, by Elibron Classics. Paros: History, Monuments etc. by Yannos Kourayos (Athens 2004) is an exemplary guide to the island’s antiquities—clear, authoritative and to the point. For the remarkable figure of the Marquis de Nointel and his Christmas mass in the Cave of Antiparos, see: Henri Omont, Relation de la visite du Marquis de Nointel à la grotte d’Antiparos (1673), Bulletin de géographie historique et descriptive, 1892 (4), pp. 4–33, and Albert Vandal, L’Odyssée d’un ambassadeur. Les voyages du Marquis deNointel (1670–1680), Paris, 1900. Theodore Bent, The Cyclades, or Life among the Insular Greeks (1885), reis sued 2002 by Archaeopress, Oxford in the ‘3rd Guides’ series, contains his descriptions of making the earliest excavations of prehistoric Cycladic remains on Antiparos.

Paros Travel Guide


Paros Island, the Cyclades.
Paros has no shortage of smart places to say: but for simplicity and unpretentious comfort, the following can be recommended. The intimate, family-run Hotel Dina in the heart of Parikiá, could not be more central, and is inexpensive, comfortable and quiet (T. 22840 21325, fax 23525, On the edge of Náousa, Yades Studios provide tasteful accommodation with help ful management (T./fax 22840 51072, www.yades. gr). Beautifully appointed, and with full facilities, is the excellent Hotel Petres (T. 22840 52467, fax 52759,; open Easter– mid-Oct). The hotel is set back in the hinterland to the south of Náousa, but with beautiful views north over Plastiras Bay.
Paros Travel Guide

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