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Naxos Island Cyclades Greece - A Journey Back in Time
Naxos is a Greek island, the largest of the Cyclades island group in the Aegean Sea. It has a large fertile landscape which spans mountain villages, ancient ruins and long stretches of beach. The centre of the island is flat farmland whilst the east, north and west of the island has mountain slopes coming down to the sea. The south of the island has the best sandy beaches. The capital is called Naxos Town but it is more commonly called Hora spelt Chora. It is a port town full of whitewashed houses typically in the Cyclades famous cube shaped style except for some beautiful Venetian architecture and medieval Venetian mansions. Kastro, in the Naxos town is a 13th century hilltop castle. It boasts a wonderful archaeological museum.
Area of Naxos: 429.8 km²
Population of Naxos: 18,904 (2011)
Pop. density of Naxos: 44 /km2 (114 /sq mi)
Tuesday 27th June 2017
We were up with the larks at the crack of dawn to drive to APH parking facility ready for transfer to Luton Airport and our flight to Mykonos. Four in the morning is much too early to be driving along the M1, but at least we didn’t encounter any holdups. Once at the airport we could get a drink and something to eat before our flight. After an uneventful flight on Easyjet, we arrived in Mykonos in the blazing sunshine, both armed with a back-pack and pulling a shared suitcase behind us. We immediately looked for the bus stop for busses to the port and only had a short while to wait before dragging our baggage onto the bus. Within half an hour we were at the port, already feeling the effects of a much too hot day. After we had established where the ferry departed from and confirmed the time, we walked into the small port village and found a lovely Taverna for our first Greek salad of the holiday and our favourite Mythos beer. We were able to chill in the shade for a couple of hours before once again dragging our baggage to the port side for the ferry.
Our next stop was Paros, where some visitors left and more embarked for the onward journey to Naxos. By this time, it was getting late, partly due to the time difference between Greece and England which added an extra two hours on. After disembarking we walked along the sea front in search of the car rental shop, and it was of course at the opposite end to the ferry port. Once the paperwork had been completed we had to drag our baggage, yet again, in search of our hire car which was parked in a huge car park, armed only with a car registration number and with the added problem that darkness had fallen. I left Susan with the baggage and went off to search for the car, fortunately I was successful. We loaded up and hit the road, following the little map from the car hire shop and trying to follow the one-way system out of town.
Once we left the town it was just a matter of following the coast road North up the entire length of the island to a small resort at the top right-hand side of the island called Apollonas. We had been told the journey would take about an hour, so was bearing this in mind during the journey. The road was not exactly the M1 and twisted and turned along the coast, passing through small villages on the way, sometimes disappearing into a dirt track and not very well sign posted. We were beginning to think we had passed our destination as we had driven for well over an hour, were tired and being dark it was difficult to see anything. Eventually we saw the much-welcomed sign for Apollonas. We then had to turn back onto ourselves to drive downwards towards the heart of the village and the sea from the mountain road. We slowly drove through the village, down narrow streets between whitewashed houses looking for a sign to our hotel. Suddenly on the side of a building we saw a sign for Hotel Kouros and arrow pointing to the right downhill.
We stopped the car and looked down the road and into what seemed to be a taverna…………………………. not very promising. Suddenly we could hear voices yelling “this way”, “come down here” – could these people possibly mean us? We decided to drive down towards the taverna where we slowed down to pass between tables in the road and the wall of the taverna itself, to be greeted by a forty-eight-year-old, slightly hippy looking long haired guy called Christos – our host! Christos immediately greeted us, shouted follow me and jumped on a push bike and headed off along the dark track between the sea and some houses. It was later explained to us that a couple of the guests of the hotel and Christos were having a farewell dinner at the taverna and were all watching out for any vehicles who appeared to not know where they were going – enter us! After coming to a stop, he instructed us to park up and to get our luggage, grabbed our suitcase and set forth across a rickety footbridge, barely floating across an expanse of water, followed by a walk across the pebble beach where we eventually caught sight of our hotel.
We were shown up to our room and all either of us wanted to do was go to bed and sleep. The first-floor room was very basic, outdated but comfortable and had a lovely balcony overlooking the sea, clean sheets and towels. There was a kettle but no other facilities and we rather disappointed that we didn’t have a fridge. Susan commented that she thought she could hear a fridge going on and off, but It wasn’t till the following day that I suddenly realised a fridge was hidden inside a cupboard.
Wednesday 28 June 2017
Next morning, we made our way downstairs to an outside patio area where breakfast was served by Christos. There was a very attractive Germany girl called Jana seated at the table and a hippy looking Swiss guy called Conrad who was a Buddhist and who seemed to live on a diet of cigarettes. We were all sat round one large table where we helped ourselves to whatever we wanted – homemade jams, yogurt, fruit, eggs in fact Christos would provide you with anything you asked for. We were then joined by Stuart, an English guy who lived in the mountains just outside Apollonas and acted as a tour guide and was writing his first novel after completing a travel guide on Naxos a couple of years previously. He had originally been a photographer and did photography holidays on the island. Christos’s father and Stuart had been good friends and he had become part of the family and continued to visit after the father died and Christos and his brother were left the hotel. Christos had been living and working in Athens prior to this where he had a bookshop and he had also written a book – on anthropology. After breakfast Conrad and Jana left to catch the bus to the port, Conrad to travel on to Venice and Jana to travel on to Paros for a five-day yoga course, leaving us as the sole occupants of the hotel.
Back to Stuart. He had arrived with the express purpose of taking Christos’s cat, Psipsinil, to the vets, the nearest one being in Naxos town. Christos didn’t drive and the cat had been very ill and was not eating, so Stuart had agreed to take her to the vets – but this did not happen today as Psipsinil had gone walk-about and could not be found.
We familiarised ourselves with the Hotel Kouros – there was an outside bar, tables and chairs under tamarind trees, outside shower, hammocks slung between trees. All perched on the side of the long pebble beach with no other building in sight. The temperature was unseasonably hot and thirty five plus degrees!! Far too hot to sit out unless you are under an umbrella.
We went for a walk into the village and had a Greek coffee before returning to the hotel beach and chilling out on the hotels sun loungers under an umbrella for the remainder of the day. Susan decided to go snorkelling and set forth towards the cliffs when - in her own words - 'suddenly I saw a giant turtle lying on the sea bed. I floated above it for some time, trying to keep as still as possible. It then started to swim and I swam besides it for a short distance before it took off at tremendous speed into the distance. It was a most fantastic experience and one I will never forget'). When she returned to the hotel she told Christos about the turtle and he said that yes, a turtle had been spotted in the bay in previous years and that he had only seen it once and that she was very lucky to have done so. Susan felt very privileged to have had this experience to swim with a loggerhead turtle.
The loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), is an oceanic turtle distributed throughout the world. It is a marine reptile, belonging to the family Cheloniidae. The average loggerhead measures around 90 cm (35 in) long when fully grown, although larger specimens of up to 280 cm (110 in) have been discovered. The adult loggerhead sea turtle weighs approximately 135 kg (298 lb), with the largest specimens weighing in at more than 450 kg (1,000 lb). The skin ranges from yellow to brown in colour. and the shell is typically reddish brown. No external differences in sex are seen until the turtle becomes an adult, the most obvious difference being the adult males have thicker tails and shorter plastrons than the females.
The loggerhead sea turtle is found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, as well as the Mediterranean Sea. It spends most of its life in saltwater and estuarine habitats, with females briefly coming ashore to lay eggs. The loggerhead sea turtle has a low reproductive rate; females lay an average of four egg clutches and then become quiescent, producing no eggs for two to three years. The loggerhead reaches sexual maturity within 17–33 years and has a lifespan of 47–67 years.
The loggerhead sea turtle is omnivorous, feeding mainly on bottom-dwelling invertebrates. Its large and powerful jaws serve as an effective tool for dismantling its prey. Young loggerheads are exploited by numerous predators; the eggs are especially vulnerable to terrestrial organisms. Once the turtles reach adulthood, their formidable size limits predation to large marine animals, such as sharks.
Loggerheads are considered an endangered species and are protected by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Untended fishing gear is responsible for many loggerhead deaths. Turtles may also suffocate if they are trapped in fishing trawls. Turtle excluder devices have been implemented in efforts to reduce mortality by providing an escape route for the turtles. Loss of suitable nesting beaches and the introduction of exotic predators have also taken a toll on loggerhead populations. Efforts to restore their numbers will require international cooperation, since the turtles roam vast areas of ocean and critical nesting beaches are scattered across several countries.
We spent the rest of the day on the beach except for half an hour when Christos invited me onto his canoe to look for the turtle that Susan had seen. We thought he was a little jealous that Susan had swum with it. Needless to say we never saw it again.
In the evening, we walked into the village and had a lovely meal at Kalimera, (meaning good morning in English). This was reached via a flight of stairs and looked out over the lovely little bay and harbour of Apollonas.
Have you ever had a magical experience in the sea?
Thursday 29th June 2017
Next morning, we reported for breakfast to find we were the only guests at the hotel. Christos set about producing our meal and we chatted with him at the table. We decided to visit a monastery first thing, which was along the south coast. We slowly motored down the south coast road and arrived at Moni Faneromenis. The monastery of Panagia Faneromeni is built in the form of a Venetian tower and it is situated on a hill overlooking the whole northwest coast of Naxos. The monastery came under the direct authority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in the late 16th century and consequently enjoyed special privileges during the years of the Ottoman rule. It realised its heyday, however, in the early 19th century, when it founded the first two schools of Naxos, in 1829. Dedicated to the Assumption of the Holy Mother, it has an abbot and one monk today and celebrates the Assumption on August 15, with religious ceremonies and meal offerings for three days. It was fully renovated in 1992. Unfortunately, there was nobody around to let us see inside.
We decided to return to our hotel and beach and spend a leisurely afternoon chilling by the sea, swimming and snorkelling. I went out with Christos in his canoe on another turtle hunt – to no avail! In the evening, we went down to the harbour to a taverna where the service was so bad we complained and certainly gave it a miss for the rest of the holiday.
Friday 30th June 2017
Day spent chilling out on the beach – more swimming and snorkelling and lazing about – life is hard at times. To be totally honest it was far too hot to do anything else.
In the evening Christos invited us to dinner and also invited Stuart, the English guy we had met the previous day – lovely food and good company, plenty of wine, in fact probably too much as I had a hangover the following morning.
Saturday 1st July 2017
We decide to head for the hills on a sightseeing trip today and took the road that leads down the centre of the island, our first stop being Koronidia or Komiaki as it is called by the locals, a delightful little hill village which due to the lack of decent roads and parking has escaped from the tourist route. It lies at a distance of about 40km from the port of Naxos and was one of the main emery villages of Naxos but nowadays its residents mainly deal with agriculture and livestock farming. The village is built at an altitude of 650 metres on the slope of “Koronos” mountain. Its luxuriant vegetation is due to the abundant water that flows from the springs which means the village has abundant crops despite its position. Its white houses create a sharp contrast with the green setting, while the steep rocks compose a wild but attractive landscape. We wandered around the its narrow streets, traditional shelters, whitewashed walkways paved with flagstones, courtyards full of flowers that all together compose a unique traditional setting. After taking photos, we eventually ended up at a cafe for frappe. I then went wandering off to find the Mycenaean tomb, an arched grave on the outskirts of the village. Although there are signs to lead you there, they are not always clear and will suddenly cease to exist! The village is also famous for its wine, cheese and meat which are some of the basic local products of Naxos.
We drove on passed Koronos and stopped next at Apiranthos. It is located in the north-eastern part of the island that starts from an altitude of 550m in the area of “Lagkadi” and reaches the altitude of 650m in the region of “Psari Blaka”. It is situated at the foot of “Fanari” Mountain and it is built in an amphitheatrical way so as to have a view to the south-eastern part of the island. The residents mainly deal with livestock farming, construction industry, trade and tourism and in a much smaller extent with agriculture, manufacturing and other home handicraft activities.
Like Koronidia, it was once famous for emery mining which used to be the basic source of wealth for the village during the rule of Franks and the Ottoman rule. Emery is an extremely rare and particularly strong stone from which are made abrasive tools of excellent quality since antiquity. This activity continues to play an important role in the village’s economy.
According to the existing monuments and documents, the residents of Apeiranthos are basically indigenous people whose origins date back to Byzantine times. However, among the population there are certainly some descendants of settlers who came here from several parts of Greece. There are a lot of rumours regarding the relation between Apeiranthos and Crete, mostly due to the similarities of the local dialect with that of a particular region in Crete (Anogia in Rethymno). The residents mainly deal with livestock farming, construction industry, trade and tourism and in a much smaller extent with agriculture, manufacturing and other home handicraft activities. Besides, they are famous for their mastery of the textile art, poetry and music.
We quickly found a café for something to eat and drink before wandering around the village in the heat.
We continued our journey by heading for the coast – Moutsouna. We managed to find somewhere to sit out of the sun and chilled for a couple of hours on the beach. It has a lovely little bay with several cafes and tavernas, only marred by a huge rusting metal contraption in pride of place on the quayside. This had been used to load the ships with emery from the mountain villages and there still exists a rusting cable car that disappears up the hillside for 16 km to Koronos. Why on earth they have not removed this decaying metal only the Greeks can tell you – such a shame as it totally spoils what could be a lovely resort. Eventually we made our way back to Apollonas returning on the same route – there is very little option as there are a limited number of roads across the island and even these sometimes feel more like dirt tracks!
In the evening, we went to the local Taverna – Nikos – where we were over faced by huge portions which Nikos son, who now runs the taverna, presented us with. He boxed up the left overs for us to take home with us.
Sunday 2nd July 2017
Another blistering hot day and we head to Koronos, which we had by-passed on a previous day. Koronos is one of the biggest and most significant mountain villages of Naxos with a valuable tradition and history. It is located at a distance of 34km from Chora in the north-eastern part of the island. Once again, its residents had dealt with the mining of emery, the mineral that gave glory and financial prosperity to the island. Nowadays this activity is very limited and local people mainly deal with agriculture and livestock farming. However, everyone can visit the old emery mines facilities on the way to Lionas and see with their own eyes the impressive cable railway, which is 16km long and it used to transfer the mineral from the village down to the port of Moutsouna. Koronos is built below road and there is a gorge between the village and road. Cars can only go so far before they have to park up in the school playground. Its narrow streets, traditional shelters, whitewashed houses, the typical characteristics of Cyclades, are once again here to enjoy.
There are traditional restaurants where you can taste meat and cheese of excellent quality as the village is renowned for its products and it is famous for its foods. Another unique experience can be a stroll towards the church of Agia Marina, which is surrounded by neat and tidy courtyards, where we chose to sit and chill for a while away from the heat.
Philips day was made by a Greek woman who decided to accost him from her balcony, with suggestions that it was too hot for clothes! She emphasised that she was alone as she pranced around on her balcony lifting her skirt and proving to Philip that she was not wearing any underwear. Philip couldn’t get away fast enough!
In the evening we ate the left-overs from the previous day's visit to Kosta's taverna on our balcony washing it down with a bottle of Mythos.
Monday 3rd July 2017
Today it’s off to Naxos town and we once again head off down the coast road. There are not many islands where their most famous archaeological site is the first thing you see when you arrive by ferry. This is the Portara, the doorway to the ancient Temple to Apollo which was built in 522 BC by the Tyrant Lygdamis and never finished, which sits on a small island in the harbour and is connected by a long causeway. They say if you stand in the doorway and make a wish you can feel the force as the energy of Apollo begins working to make your wish come true. Actually, the only reason they believe that this was a Temple to Apollo is because it happens to face Delos, which is the island of Apollo and since they don't have much to go by it is a possibility though it would not be the first temple that was attributed to the wrong God. At the time, it was being build Lygdamis intended to make it the largest and most glorious temple in Greece. Unfortunately, he was overthrown before it was completed. Had it been finished, Naxos would probably be one of the most important archaeological destinations in Greece with a temple that might have been one of the wonders of the ancient world. After the rise of Christianity, the building was used as a church but it was dismantled during the Venetian period and its blocks used for other building projects most notably the Kastro above the port of Naxos. They might have used the doorway too but it was too heavy so rather than deal with it they just left it for the later inhabitants, visitors, historians and archaeologists to wonder about. Above the whitewashed houses of the town is the Kastro (castle) that was built by Venetian
Emperor, Markos Sanoudos II in 1207 and was the seat of power in the Cyclades for 300 years. Within the castles inner walls are a number of Venetian residences, a 13th Century Catholic Cathedral, and the French School where Nikos Kazantzakis, Greece's greatest modern writer who wrote among other things, Zorba the Greek and The Last Temptation of Christ, studied. The building is now the Archaeological Museum which contains some fine examples of white marble figurines and ceramics. The castle has been continually inhabited since it was built and during the summer hosts concerts and exhibitions which are advertised around the town by posters and brochures. The Kastro originally had several towers of which one remains, called the Glezos Tower which was restored in 1968 after being donated to the National Archaeology Ministry by its owner Petros Glezos. The area called The Bourgos is where the Greeks lived when the Venetians controlled the town and its winding streets are full of restaurants and shops. The northern part of Naxos is called Grotta and has a pebble beach which is not used much since the northern winds make it pretty rough and difficult for anyone but the best swimmers, body surfers and wind surfers. However, when there is no wind and it is calm it can be very pleasant. There is an archaeological site here that is open to the public. The harbour itself is a lively area of cafes, restaurants, travel agencies and shops.
In what had been Ursulines School at the top of the castle hill we had coffee looking out over Naxos town – a lovely place to chill in the heat of the day.
In the evening Christos invited us to eat with his family. His brother, mother and family friend had turned up and would remain for the summer season. Within two days the hotel had been transformed. The remainder of the year Christos’s brother had a taxi in Athens. The hotel had been left to Christos and his brother when their father died. Christos lived in the hotel all year round, although the winter guests were few and far between. He also looked after the numerous cats and large garden, part of which produced most of their fruit and vegetables. Christos cooked stuffed tomatoes and peppers which were delicious and a good evening was had by all, and once again the next morning Philip had a hangover!
Tuesday 04 July 2017
Armed with Stuarts book ‘Discover Hidden Naxos’, we set forth on a day of sightseeing. After arriving at Eggares on the main road to Naxos town we headed inland across the mountains, passing the marble workings standing out on the hillside.
Our first port of call was Melanes to see the two marble Kouros that lay on the hillside. After parking up the car we had a lovely walk through the country to a hidden garden that turned out to be a small café – very small – ran by an ancient Greek lady whose grandad had been the person to find the Kouros (well so she said anyway!). We decided to risk food poisoning and stopped for coffee – a rather dubious ‘iced coffee’ (no ice – luke-warm) and Philip had a Greek coffee – probably the safer option. The café owner was in her element telling Philip about her grandad and family and the history of the Kouros. After we had view this one we went on up the hillside to see the female Kouros, laying without her feet which were nearby. I have to say that as these are only the first rough cut from the marble they are not particularly impressive – apart from the age of them. However, the scenery was great and if it hadn’t been for the heat the walk would have been enjoyable.
Our next stop was Kinidharos, a lovely little mountain village where after enjoying a Greek salad and a shared Mythos, we enjoyed walking around the back-streets taking photos.
Panaghia Dhrosiani near Moni is the next stop. The church of the Panagia Drossiani, meaning Dewy Virgin, is the oldest Christian church of Naxos. Located near Moni, it is also considered one of the most important Byzantine churches and is therefore of immense historical significance. There are two different views on why it is called Dewy Virgin. One reason is that the location where it is built is called Drossia while others believe that the name refers to the icon of the church seeping or weeping every time the village is in danger. Hence the name Dewy Virgin. It dates back at the end of 6th century A.D. It is full of rare paintings and offers a beautiful view of the Tragea Valley. The dome shows Jesus Christ Pantokrator. In front of the altar on the right side, you will see Agios Georgios on a horse with a little boy sitting behind him carrying water. The early iconostasis was made of marble. However, when that was pulled down, a wooden one was found behind it. The church has a lovely courtyard which also houses the cemetery of the village. Every year on Good Friday during the mid-day, this church bustles with locals from the village of Moni celebrating an old tradition of offering a strong alcohol, raki, and bread with raisins and nuts to all the guests.
And so on to a pottery where the owner will throw a pot (not at you!) if you ask him nicely. You will discover handmade pottery made by the talented Manolis Limpertas, at the village Damalas. This art has been passed down in the family, from Manolis grandfather to him and its roots are lost in the late 19th century.
Using as tools, his talent, the wheel, the clay of Naxian land and water, the artist creates unique decorative items. His inspiration comes from the utensils of daily life of the residents of Naxos island, from ancient times. Utensils like "sifouni" (jug of wine), the Armeos (container for milking animals), the "tyromethyra" (jars to preserve the cheese), etc. .
Dimitra Temple near Ano Sagri is our next port of call, set in the middle of the island Dimitra’s temple is one of the most important historical sites on the island. Known locally as Gyroulas, it’s located 1.5 km south of Sangri village. The temple is one of the few surviving buildings from the ancient world. It’s of great interest archaeologically because over 50% of the building is still preserved.
The temple dates from around 530 BC. It was built during the reign of Lygdamis, who is known as the tyrant of Naxos. The temple was constructed from white marble and was dedicated to the ancient Goddess Dimitra, who presided over agriculture and harvests. It was converted into a church in the 6th Century AD. The Temple of Demeter was built in the 6th century BC. The temple was partially dismantled in the 6th century AD when a church was built over it. In later centuries, the site was abandoned and plundered for its marble. Until recently, there was very little to see - none of the temple was left standing. But a few years ago, it was discovered that most of the columns and stones of the original temple still remained on site, either buried or used in the ruined chapel. It was subsequently restored to its present state, which is now intact enough to show the basic form of the Temple of Demeter at Sangri. It is one of the few known temples with a square floor plan.
When we returned to the hotel we were greeted by wild seas crashing onto the beach – certainly not swimming seas.
Manolis the Potter of Naxos Island
Wednesday 05 July 2017
The sea is still rough and crashing onto the cliff. Armed once again with Stuarts guide to Naxos we head inland. Just outside Naxos town we stop at the Tower of Belonia near Galanado. Naxos has several old venetian towers, some are lived in, as was this one.
The next tower we visit, the Bazeos Tower dates back to the 17th century and belongs to the most typical group of monuments in Naxos, dating from 13th to the 18th century. The reason for the common presence of such buildings has its sources in the social and historic conditions prevailing in post-Byzantine years. Great uncertainty prevailed at the time in the Aegean, because of the frequent pirate raids that had not stopped since the Byzantine era and also because of the feudal system on the island, which after having been introduced and systematically applied during Venetian rule, survived during the years of Turkish rule. At first, this castle functioned as a monastery and was called the monastery of the True Cross (“Timios Stavros”). In the first decades of the 19th century however, the last remaining monks abandoned it and in 1834 it became the property of the newly founded Greek state. For many years the castle offered hospitality to families of potters who lived there and practiced their tradecraft. Later on, by the end of the 19th century, the castle was sold by the Greek government and was bought by the Bazeos family, whose descendants are the current owners. In the Venetian tradition of the island, the family maintained its primary residence in Chora, while also using the tower as a summer residence and agricultural provisions storage area. Its last descendent, appreciating the importance and historical value of the building, continues its upkeep with particular care and aesthetic awareness. In 2000, the first phase of restoration was completed, and since then it has functioned as a cultural activities space.
When we visited, the Phantasma Art Experience was being exhibited. Phantoms may disappear with the light of day but that is not the case with the phantasmagorical world of art created by five artists of different origins, in the evocative interiors of the Bazeos Tower, built in the 17th century. The artists: Irini Gonou (GR), Miyuki Kido (JP), Yorgos Papafigos (GR), Collin Mura-smith (USA), Manuela Zervudachi (FR), travel around the island and are hosted for a time in the Bazeos Tower, where they work on and render, their own personal pieces (painting, sculpture, video, installations) the concept of ghost, illusion, the unfamiliar, the imaginary, giving form through their works to a universe that shifts away from realism and ordinary reality, towards allegory and symbolism. The experience of living in the old tower, socializing with the locals, having contact with the island's natural environment and the physical elements available, the light and wind, are some of the components that are melded with the artist's talent and transformed on site into a work, an in-situ installation.
The exhibition is accompanied and complemented by a theatrical performance and nights of readings.
We thoroughly enjoyed the experience of this unusual art installation in its magic surroundings.
Curator: Mario Vazaios
Organiser: AEON Non Profit Cultural Organization
Bazeos Tower, 17th century’s monument.
12th km of Chora-Agiassos road
Tel.: +30 22850 31402
Communication: Katerina Zourari
We then motored on to the tiny village of Metochi to visit the church of Agios Apostoli Built sometime between the 10th and 11th centuries and located between the two abandoned settlements Metochi and Kerami near Chalki village, Agii Apostoli (also to be written as Agioi Apostoloi) is a cruciform domed Byzantine church of the rarer architectural style (referring to the two-storey design), the only design of this type found on Naxos.
The upper storey is accessed via an external staircase starting above the entrance, originally whose function was probably a chapel. In the interior surfaces only a few frescoes can be seen and they were made between the 12th and the 13th centuries. The interior walls had, at some time, undergone a whitewash cover, which later revealed the frescoes. Unfortunately, the church was locked up and we were unable to view the interior.
Lunch called and we motored on to Filoti, a lovely little village with numerous tavernas and cafes on the main road. Cheese and spinach pie were the orders of the day, washed down with, as usual, a shared bottle of Mythos.
We motored towards the east coast of Naxos to visit Danakos. It is a small village on the road to know-where, in other words there is only one road in and it’s the same road out. We parked up at the end of the road within the village and walked down some cobbled streets to a church which has in its grounds an impressive and enormous plain tree in the centre of a square. The branches of the tree literally covered the square and it was a lovely place to seek shade from the hot sun especially as the square was fed by a natural fresh water well.
That evening we went out for a farewell meal to ‘Kalimera’ in the village of Apollonas with a couple of French people who were staying at the hotel, Christos and Jana. Christos went berserk when ordering the food and ordered far too much. The dishes just kept on coming. Thankfully it wasn’t an expensive taverna and the food was very tasty.
Thursday 06 July 2017
It’s time to say goodbye to Naxos and after our farewells we load up our bags and also Jana to head for the port in Naxos town. Jana was catching a ferry to Rafina, just outside Athens where she would catch her flight back to Germany. We returned the car and found a café to while away a couple of hours. Unfortunately, the couple of hours was extended to several hours due to the rough seas delaying the ferries. Eventually we were on board and heading for Paros.
© 2017 Philip Cooper