PAROS



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Paros - general

Paros produces what is considered traditionally to be the best quality of marble for sculpture in the world. If it had been more available to him Michelangelo would surely have used it. Many of the greatest sculptures of Antiquity, from the korai of the Athenian acropolis to the Hermes of Praxiteles, are in Parian marble and they derive much of their appeal from the material itself—its responsiveness to the tool, its brilliance, and its translucence above all. In 1844 the ancient quarries were opened again specifically to furnish the stone for Napoleon’s funeral chamber at Les Invalides. Much of the early economy of Paros was based on the exploitation of its marble, and of the sculptural expertise which it fostered. The island became prosper ous and full of outward-looking initiative as a result. In the 7th century bc it founded a very successful colony on Thasos , whose veins of gold and silver made Paros even richer. On board the ships that set out from Paros to colonise Thasos was the greatest individual the island has giv en birth to—the 7th century bc poet Archilochus—whom the ancients viewed as almost as great as Homer himself. No-one better than he expresses the spirit of those early times: the restless energy of the Greek imagination and the new-found freedom of the individual. Archilochus is the island-poet par excellence—a distillation of the independence of mind and the uncluttered horizons which are the particular preserve of the island world.
    In 326 St Helen, the mother of Constantine the Great, found herself on Paros. With her customary generosity she was inspired to found a church on the island. She vowed to build it and then continued on her way to Jerusalem, where she was to die. It was probably built by her son in the end and it is the earliest church in the Aegean which is still in constant use today. Paros wears its greatness lightly. It is only small, but it has three beautiful towns—Parikia, Naousa and Lefkes—of quite different and contrasting characters. On the island it is possible to eat well, visit re markable monuments and bathe on some of the most at tractive beaches of the Cyclades. Ten minutes away is the island of Antiparos, with a famous and impressive cave in whose vast halls of stalactites the Marquis of Nointel stage-managed a full celebration of mass with music and fireworks on Christmas Day in 1673. Then, beyond An tiparos, is the deserted island of Despotiko, Ancient Prepesinthos. There is a ferment of archaeology on the Parian islands in general, but the most interesting site currently being revealed is here on Despotiko, untouched by any later habitation. It is a sanctuary of the Archaic era prob ably dedicated to Apollo, of which only a fraction has so far been uncovered, but which may prove to be one of the most significant recent finds of the Cyclades.


Travel Guide to Paros & Greece

access

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

eating

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

lodging

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, www.hoteldina.com). 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, www.petres.gr; 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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