Naxos History

Stone Age

Archaeological findings attest to the existence of a developed society as early as the fourth millennium B.C.; Naxos has been inhabited continuously since.

Bronze Age (3200-1100 B.C.)

Naxos has a strong presence in the Aegean during the third millennium B.C. as it emerges as an important centre of the so-called Cycladic culture. Excavation findings from this period are exhibited at the Archaeological Museum of Naxos in Hora and the archaeological museum of Apeiranthos.

At the dawn of the second millennium B.C.

The Minoans are the dominant maritime power in the Aegean, while, later the control of the seas passes to the Mycenaeans. The centres of power shift to the Mycenaean centres on the Greek mainlands which use the Cyclades as bridges in their expansion to the east. One section of the Mycenaean city of Naxos (1300 B.C.) was uncovered beneath the square of the cathedral in Hora at the Museum at the Cathedral Square.

Geometric era (1100-700 B.C.)

Naxos is colonized by the Ionians, and their arrival marks the start of a period of impressive growth.

Archaic era (700-480 B.C.)

The growth of the island reaches its peak in the seventh and sixth centuries B.C., a period during which the arts-especially sculpture and architecture-flourish. This was, in part, thanks to the abundance of marble on the island, but also thanks to local emery production (emery was used to scrape the marble surfaces) . Typical of the island's sculptures are the two larger-than-life, half-completed kouroi founded at Melanes and Apollonas. Excavations have also unearthed important works from this period, like the temple of Yria, south of Hora at Livadi, and the sanctuary of Yiroula near Sagri. The temple of Apollo, or Portara on Palataki islet at the port's edge, also dates from this period. In 490 B.C., Naxos was destroyed by the Persians.

Classical era (480-323 B.C.)

Following the Persians' defeat, Naxos becomes a member of the Athenian League.

Hellenistic era (323-41 B.C.)

One of the island's most important monuments, the Himarros tower, dates from this period. The tower is located near the village of Filoti; another ancient tower is «Palaiopyrgos of Plaka», located between Tripodes and Plaka beach.

Roman era (41 B.C.-A.D. 330)

In 41 B.C. Naxos became a Roman province and was used as a place of exile.

Byzantine era (330-1207)

The advent of Christianity in the fourth century leads to the construction of many churches over ancient temples. Today, there are more than 500 churches on the island. Panayia Drosiani near Moni and Panayia Protothroni near Halki are two important monuments of the Early Christian period. The fortified monastery of Fotodotis Christos on the outskirts of Danakos also dates from this period. The Byzantines also built castles or fortifications on the island. One example is the Kalogeros Kastro which is built atop a low but inaccessible hill on the island's northern end. Apano Kastro is located west of the Tragea plateau. The Apalirou Castle in central Naxos, is built atop a sheer slope; the island's Byzantine capital was located at its foothills.

Venetian rule (1207-1537)

In 1207, Marco Sanudo lands with his men at Ayiassos, and after a siege, he conquers the island. He subsequently conquers 18 more islands in the Aegean, then founds the Duchy of Naxos, with the island as its seat, and creates a small feud. The capital is moved from Apaliros to Hora, whose hill forms a natural acropolis. On this site, Sanudo built Hora's fortified castle using materials from the ancient city. The island's rulers built their towers around and outside it for protection or for summer housing. There are also a number of more recent towers on the island's northern coast, such as the Ayia Tower, which dates from the 17th century but was half-destroyed by fire, and the fortified monastery of Panayia Ypsilotera on the outskirts of the village of Galini.

Turkish rule (1537-1829)

Naxos remained under the Turkish rule until 1829 when it became part of the modern Greek state. Modern times. The emery mines on the island's eastern part, on the road to Liona, are one of the island's modern monuments. Today, the island's farm products provide it with economic self-sufficiency. Tourist facilities have been planned on the island since the 1980s.