Naxos is not just an ordinary Greek island. It has a long history that unfolds back in time. If you decide to visit it for your vacations, it’s useful to know its hidden gems and heritage. In that way, you will be able to be aware of your next steps and what you are going to experience. In this guide, we will explore Naxos chronicle and culture from the ancient till the modern era.
More precisely, we will present you the traditions, art, architecture, music, folklore and cuisine. In addition, you will find out about special celebrations and multiple festivals that could enhance your staying. By providing you all these information in the complete guide, then your journey may become amazingly unpredictable.
Let’s talk about Naxos Architecture and Art
When you visit Naxos, at first sight, you will be amazed by the unique architecture of its buildings. The Venetian culture was the main influencer in the majority of them. If we compare this island with others in Greece, the differences are apparent. Here, you can find best-preserved towns, whose characteristic is a medieval feeling. But, they were also influences from the Ottoman and Byzantine era. These are depicted on many properties, monuments and public buildings.
For instance, Kastro is one astonishing fortress on the top of the hill in Chora. It has design elements of both Byzantine and Venetian architecture. It rises up proudly through the centuries, while in its narrow alleys, you can walk and admire the scenery. Next, comes Panagia Drosiani Church. The most impressive features are its Byzantine frescoes and amazing domed roof. On the island you can meet countless towers, which were founded mainly in the 17th century. The most impressive are Bazeos Tower, Agia Tower and Gratzia Tower.
If you are considered to be an art-lover, then here, you will be able to attend to many galleries and museums. The artistic community is expanding all over the island, and many artists are well-known, not only among locals, but they are recognised worldwide. In addition, the Naxos Municipal Art Gallery is famous for its artifacts and it hosts a collection of paintings, sculptures, and other artworks by local and national artists, as well. Plus, many art festivals take place, such as the Naxos Festival of the Aegean. The specific one organises classical music and opera performances.
Which are the top Festivals and Celebrations?
In Naxos, you can participate in many cultural and religious events. Many of them, include festivals and celebrations throughout the year. If you are lucky enough to be present in one of these, you will definitely experience the Greek spirit.
What’s more, is the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, which takes place in the middle of August. It’s a religious celebration that occurs all over Greece, every year. Its features are processions, feasting, and fireworks. Another one, is the feast of Panagia Agrokiliotissa that is celebrated on Holy Friday at Koronos Village. Locals offer wine, traditional food and they dance without limit.
Furthermore, a cultural event that you definitely have to attend is Dionysia Festival. It includes theatrical performances, art expositions and, musical concerts. You can drink plenty of wine, as it is dedicated to God Dionysos. Another option, is the Naxos Summer Festival which takes place for more than 2 decades. Last but not least, The Rakee Distillery Festival that pops in September is an event that you shouldn’t miss. Rakee is the traditional drink of Naxos, and if you try a few sips then, it might become your favourite alcohol drink!
Let’s purchase some Handicrafts and Souvenirs
Naxos, holds an important heritage in handicrafts and it’s very popular for many artifacts. If you are a shopping-lover, then it’s certain that you may find something special to remind you of your vacations.
Pottery blooms in the past few years and you can purchase beautiful artworks. Furthermore, workshops take place very often. You could participate in one of them, just for the experience. Creating plates or bowls by yourself is a thing to be proud of in case you decide to participate in one of them.
Likewise, the most popular handicrafts are the hand-woven textiles. Their history goes back in time, when women held a loom at their houses. These handmade artworks will get you excited, and why not purchase one? There are plenty of bags, clothing or tablecloths to choose from.
Here, besides these handicrafts, you can taste local products, like olive oil, wine, cheese, honey and “melachrino”, a walnut pie. The products’ ingredients, mentioned earlier, come from Naxos. They have a delicious taste, while they are a healthy option for your nutrition. Don’t forget to buy extra supplies for your friends and family.
What about Music and Dance events?
Naxos has a long musical and dance history that still plays an important role in locals daily life and routine. It is said that Naxiots embed music deep in they DNA for centuries since the ancient era. Do you know what is the most essential part in Naxiots tradition?
The most significant aspect of Naxos’ tradition is the local folk music. Usually, dances take place, along with the musical performance. Dubaki, tzambouna, violin, lute and souvliari are the traditional instruments of the island. Even if we live in the modern times and our preferences have changed, this doesn’t apply here. Greek culture is still alive here in a unique way that will awaken your senses.
Also, if you enjoy listening to classical music, make a note that many events happen frequently. These have to do with live concerts, musical scenes and festivals. The most important is the Naxos Festival of the Aegean. There, you can listen to world-class opera and classical music concerts all over the island.
Let’s try Naxos Local Cuisine
Here in Naxos, you will be able to try traditional cuisine that includes local products. The recipes are influenced by the Venetian, Ottoman and Byzantine era. By visiting one of the amazing traditional taverns, you will have the opportunity to get served delicious dishes and desserts.
One of the traditional dishes on Naxos include “Kokoras with Pasta”, in other words, we talk about rooster braised in red sauce. Other options are wild rabbit and roasted goat. Usually, they are served with Naxian potatoes, which are well-known for their special taste. If you are a fan of pies, then you should try the local “Patoudo”, a type of meat pie.
Don’t forget local cheeses, like arsenic or graviera. They are famous for their rich taste and are made from pure ingredients. Next option is fresh seafood. They are cooked in different ways, fried or grilled. A few to mention are calamari, octopus, shrimps and “Gouna”. The last one is sun and air dried, topped with olive oil and lemon drops.
For dessert, choose among “Melachrino”, a walnut pie that includes a local citron liquor and it is served with kaimaki ice cream. Plus, you can find many spoon sweets, such as citron, papilona, quince and many more. A last recommendation is the ‘Xerotigana”, which are fried dumplings coming in slices.
Flash back in time
1. A bit of history about the Ottoman and Modern era
From 1537 to 1821, the island was part of the Ottoman Empire. The Turkish ruled Naxos for almost three centuries. At those times, the residents faced an economical and cultural decrease. They had to suppress their customs and tradition due to Islam. However, on May 6 1821, Naxos joined the Greek war of Independence.
Nowadays, Naxos is one of the top tourist attractions in Greece. Its economy is blooming thanks to its beautiful natural landscapes and various cultural legacy. Over here, tourists are able to discover a variety of music festivals, cultural events or even visit art galleries, museums and archeological sites. Also, they can have a chance to try local cuisine and purchase handicrafts.
The most important places to visit is Naxos Municipal Art gallery, where you can admire many artworks from Greek artists. Another significant place is the Archaeological Museum of Naxos. Numerous artifacts coming from the ancient era might be an interesting topic to dive into. Regarding to feasts and festivals, two of the most popular are Naxos Festival of the Aegean and the Naxos Festival. They include traditional dance and music concerts.
2. A bit of history about the Byzantine and Venetian era
Before the Ottoman Empire, Naxos was under the conquer of many empires that had a crucial influence on its heritage. The Byzantine period lasted from 4th to the 13th century AC. The feature of that era was the construction of many churches and monasteries. At present, you could visit some of them, such as Panagia Drosiani or the Monastery of Fotodotis, which means “The one who gives light”.
Another important historical period is the Venetian. The island was conquered in the 13th century for several centuries. Keep in mind that its influence was depicted on the architecture of many buildings. For instance, impressive towers that touch the skies or Kastro which is a stone-built fortress, are considered to be a must-to-visit places.
If you desire to watch closely these kind of tourist sightseeings, then you should make a stop at the medieval Tower of Glezos or the Castle of Chora. There, you can take amazing pics and create unforgettable memories.
3. A bit of history about the Ancient era
Moving back to the Ancient era, Naxos is well-known to be the birthplace of God Dionysos. Greek mythology left her mark on the island, while is was a hub of early Cycladic civilization. Many artifacts are being housed in museums, whilst you have the opportunity to visit other archeological sites, as well.
One of them is the temple of Apollo which was a significant religious center. It is estimated to be constructed in the 6th century BC. Many tourists prefer this archaeological site, because of its ruins, whose stunning architectural features can still narrate stories of that era.
Other interesting archeological sites to visit are the Ancient Sanctuary of Demeter at Gyroulas at Sagri, and the Archaeological Site of Grotta. In the last one, you can see prehistoric graves that have been discovered due to excavation work. Another historical attraction is Flerio. There, you can admire the Kouroi of Melanes, which are two huge stone figures. Even if they are incomplete, they still look thrilling and it worths planning to visit them.
Key points to jot down
After all these recommendations, you might conclude that Naxos has a rich past, but also a unique present. This place is so amazing due to its cultural elements that make it differ from others. Here, you can visit not only medieval towers and modern concerts, but also, attend various events.
It’s a fact that Naxos offers unforgettable experiences that fit everyone’s preferences. The best solution to live unique moments is to rent a vehicle. At Naction Car Rental Company you can choose your ideal rental among our vehicle fleet. With this option, you will be able to save precious time, which you may invest in many historical and cultural explorations.