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Only Naxians have songs about snow

Well, that's true, in all of the Cyclades only Naxians have songs about snow, but more about that in a bit.


It's our third day in Naxos and to be honest we've been a bit lazy. We had two early starts getting here and two long tiring days. So we've had a good wander through the narrow venetian streets in the old town below the castle and a very nice long lunch down by the harbour yesterday. Yesterday evening we saw the sunset from the Portara and today is for mooching and the beach, which is a short walk from the town. We're in no hurry, we're here for the week and have plans to hire a car for a couple of days to see the rest of the island once we're settled in.


I'm afraid I've got no new amusing anecdotes so maybe it's time for a cultural, historical blog. Those not interested in a bit of history feel free to throw in the towel now.


So, why did we choose Naxos out of the rest of the beautiful islands in the Cyclades? Naxos is the largest island in the Cyclades, it has the highest mountains, the top of which are the only places to get regular snowfall, unlike anywhere else in the Cyclades they even have traditional songs about snow! The island is completely self sufficient with it's own water supply from rivers, wells and winter rain. Because of this Naxos is greener and could easily support itself with it's own potatoes, olives, grapes, wine, cheese and lemons.


Naxos is rich in history, according to mythology Zeus grew up on Naxos to escape his father Chronus the God of time. According to mythology Zeus's son Dionysus, the God of wine, also grew up on Naxos and it was Dionysus that is said to have made Naxos fertile. Hence Dionysus was one of the main gods worshipped by ancient Naxians.


Because of it position in the Aegean Sea, situated between modern day Greece and Turkey, Naxos has regularly been invaded, conquered and subjugated since the start of civilisation. The locals must have rolled their eyes at yet another bunch of marauding invaders. It started with the Thracians, then 200 years later it was the Carean, who named the island Naxos, then the Ionians in the 7th century BC. This was followed by the Persian war when the Athenians lost control of Naxos to the Spartans, then came the Macedonians, Egyptians, the Rodians and in 41 BC the Romans.


As an interlude it was the Athenian ruler Lygdamis who created Naxos's most famous landmark the Portara, the huge marble temple portal that stands on a hill in front of Naxos town. The hill, called Palatia, is connected to Naxos by a strip of land. Myth has it that Palatia is where the Minoan princess Adriadne was abandoned by her Minoan lover Theseus (who killed the Minotaur). Lygdamis planned to build the highest and most magnificent building in Greece, but unfortunately went to war with the island of Samos at about the same time. It didn't end well for Lygdamis, who was overthrown, the temple was never completed. Most of the temple marble was re-purposed by the venetians to build their Kastro (castle) which is still the dominant feature of Naxos town today, so all that's left of Lygdamis's temple is one of the doors. Some piccies of the Portara.

There's some debate about who Lygdamis's temple was being built for? It's mostly thought the temple was for Apollo because it points towards Delphi where Apollo is said to have been born and who was the main god of the Naxians. But others say it was a temple to Dionysus, the God of wine also much favoured by Naxians


More recent history really started with the Venetians when Marco Sanudo established a duchy in the Cyclades with Naxos as it's headquarters. The venetians seem to have been a bit of a paranoid bunch, rightly so, and pretty much always on a war footing because of neighbouring venetian duchy's and marauding Greek pirates (can't say I blame them). Hence Naxos town is built below a heavily fortified venetian fortress and the old town itself is a maze of narrow streets designed to confuse invaders. As you walk around the streets you can imagine how easy it would be to defend, as you can see from the piccies below.

So we chose Naxos because it's such an interesting island and not the best to visit by yacht, there's just 6 spaces for visiting yachts in the harbour and no real parking alternative. Naxos.

More in the next couple of days,


Yamass!





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