Paros - Naousa and the North of the Island - the Northwest

The Northwest

Along the route from Parikia northeast to Naousa are several places of interest beside the way. At 3km, after passing Tris Ekklisies, the steep hill of Prophitis Elias rises 261m to the west of the road. It was the site of several places of cult in Antiquity. The summit is best reached from the western side of the hill (left turn at 3.5km, round north side of hill) up a track which passes a picturesque, abandoned monastery.

   The chapel of Prophitis Elias sits on the summit where once, according to an inscription found on the site, was the cult of Zeus Hypat[i]os (‘the Highest’). Down the spur to the south west, at a point overlooking the port below, is a plateau with a raised knob of rock about 3m x 1m, which may correspond to the altar of Aphrodite or of Eileithyia, divine protectress of childbirth, whose cults are also attested here: nearby are a couple of shaped blocks of limestone which must have been part of the structure, and some cuts in the native rock lower down. Continuing west to the edge of the spur, you come to a cave in the rock with votive niches; nearby are rocks with— once again—the faint outlines of feet incised on them, left behind as votive acts by women who frequented the shrine.

   On the slope across the valley, to the east of the main road (turnings at 2.5km and 3.7km) stands the monastery of Longovarda, dedicated to the Zoodochos Pigi (‘Fount of Life’), and built on the site of a fresh-water spring, now dry, in a ravine in the hills (open to male visitors only, 9.30–12).

   The buildings of the complex have grown substantially over the years since it was founded, or rather was moved from Naousa, in 1638. It was almost immediately rebuilt and enlarged in 1657 in a form commensurate with its new status as a stavropegic monastery (i.e. under the direct administration of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople). The interior of the domed, ‘free-cross’ catholicon is entirely deco rated with (now darkened) murals. The upper areas—pen dentives, drum and cupola—are the original 17th century work, while large areas lower down were repainted in the 19th century. Of particular note are two small icons executed by two brothers who were monks, Hierotheus and Methodius, painter and wood-carver respectively, in the late 19th century. The right-hand icon is meticulously and minutely carved with scenes of the Life of Christ—a piece of rare and extraordinary skill. At the end of the 19th century the monastery counted 125 monks: there are now nine.

   As the road descends to Plastiras Bay the landscape changes dramatically: the limestone promontory to the northwest has a convoluted and knotty form, of a kind familiar from Delos , Mykonos and parts of Tinos; the bay is dotted with small islets; and the impermeable bedrock has created a wide alluvial plain behind the shore. It is a configuration and marine landscape that seems to have appealed to Neolithic man, and it is no surprise to find that one of the most important Neolithic cemeteries of the Cyclades was excavated here, and that the bay has given its name, as a result, to a stylistic genre of Cycladic sculpture. The ‘Plastiras group’ of Cycladic figurines are perhaps the most distinct and recognisable of all—less schematic and more naturalistic than other types, with stocky bodies, clearer facial features, often very elongated necks, and sometimes an unusual headgear on the heads of the male figurines. Of the excavated Neolithic cemetery little is to be seen; but of its Bronze Age successor on the hill of Koukounaries, there are clear remains. The Mycenaean acropolis is on the knob of hill immediately west of the westernmost point of Plastiras Bay (2km to the west of the main Parikia/Naousa road, shortly before it enters Naousa: ascent of the hill is from the southwest side).

   The site overlooks the whole bay below, the plain behind, and the channel between Naxos and Paros: a protective ra vine encircles it to north. A lower enceinte of fortification walls in large polygonal blocks can be seen in places. Just short of the summit is a wall running east/west constructed in large, oblong mansonry, enclosing a flat area above, which is traversed by the foundations and bases of interconnected buildings of large proportions, as well as of smaller dwellings. In the store-rooms, just inside the main wall, were found bronze weaponry, vases and domestic items, as well as stores of stone projectiles—all buried in ash, indicating a destruction by fire in the late 12th century bc. Curiously, what was built here was also begun in the 12th century bc; so the existence of the settlement in Mycenaean times was short. It continued to be inhabited after the destruction until the 7th century bc, after which time it was deserted. Fifty metres southeast of the summit is a hollow whose floor is cut by archaeologists’ assay trenches; to the south of these can be seen the remains of dwellings and the base of a temple (probably dedicated to Athena) dating from the Geometric period. From Koukounaries, the road continues a further 3km to an isthmus where there are boatyards and a couple of protected beaches, overlooked by the picturesque monastery-church of Aghios Ioannis, just short of the northern tip of the island. In the marshy streams south of Koukounaries, the night-heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) can sometimes be seen by day: it returns each year from its winters in the Nile Valley to breed by the coast here.

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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