Naxos: The medieval castle town
Naxos tour: The medieval castle town is a remarkably detailed tour of the old town of Naxos, the largest island of the Cyclades. Discover credible and original stories about this gifted island written by top local professionals after extended research. Take your tour now and enjoy it instantly on your smartphone device.
In the aftermath of the Fourth Crusade (1204) the Venetian Marco Sanudo conquered the Cyclades and established his seat in Naxos, from where he ruled his tiny empire. As a result, the old town is a rich mosaic of Venetian mansions, churches, monasteries, and defence structures, standing alongside ancient Greek and Byzantine monuments.
The tour begins at the impressive and unforgettably picturesque Portara, the entrance to Apollo’s temple that seems to rise from the sea on a rocky promontory. When you have had your fill with the amazing view, follow the mole back towards the town of Naxos and allow yourself to be transported back in time, as you wander the labyrinthine alleys of the Venetian suburbs and castle. As you enter and exit the castle doors, you will learn all about the island’s Venetian and Ottoman past, encounter picturesque churches, the Archaeological Museum and the Capuchin convent with the marble coat of arms depicting the monastery founder praying before the Holy Cross, the Jewish quarter with its many stories of the difficult relationship between the Jews and Christians of Naxos, as well as the Sanudo tower that once served as the keep of the Duchal palace. The tour eventually brings you back to the harbour and the charming whitewashed chapel of Panagia Myrtidiotissa, standing proudly on an islet in the middle of the harbour.
A tour of the old town of Naxos, from Portara and Grotta to the district of Bourgos and the Nio Chorio quarter, as well as the Agora and the seaside neighbourhoods. The emphasis, of course, is on the Medieval Venetian Castle and its monuments.
1. Porta tou Yialou–Panagia of the ChiononThe Porta tou Yialou (or the Gate of Yialos) is situated at the western end of the medieval settlement of Bourgos, on the side of the port.
2. The Catholic CathedralThe Catholic Metropolis is located in the center of the Castle. It is a 13th century building. It is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and celebrates on February 2nd.
3. The Castle JunctionDescending from the Ursuline Monastery, one passes through Antico Veneziano, where ancient Greek columns are found, and from there reaches a junction of a particular medieval style.
“Stiastas” in Bourgos
Porta tou Yialou–Panagia of the ChiononContinuing on our journey, we meet and pass under various “stiastas” (arched alleys), an architectural feature common among the old settlements of Chora and among the villages of Naxos, but also in the Cyclades in general. This practice addresses specific transportation needs in a geographical region with specific spatial and social characteristics and is common in the Mediterranean. In Italy these galleries are called "sottoportico", in Venice "sotopòrtego". Oftentimes, however, the corners of the houses are truncated in the narrow alleys of Naxos, in order to provide space for the passage of pack animals.
The Story of Giovanni Dambi
The Catholic CathedralGiovanni Dambi was a mercenary for Venice during the 6th Venetian-Turkish War (1684-1699), but because he wished to retire, he asked permission from the Venetian military commander to settle in Naxos. However, there were confrontations with the locals, who accused him of espionage, resulting in him being executed by the Venetian authorities. The Venetians then ruled the temporarily seized island. His coat of arms graces his tomb, which is on the floor of the Catholic Metropolis, accompanied by the Latin inscription: "1695 HIC IACET IOANNES DAMBI".
The Crazy Duke
The Castle JunctionA little further above the crossroads, to the east, is the Markopoli - Fornaro house, with the characteristic coat of arms of the Crispo family in the lintel of its entrance. It is believed that there was once the ducal residence of Giacomo Crispo (1463-1480). In 1510, Duke Francis III, having psychological problems, murdered his wife while trying to kill his son. Venice then intervened and assumed the Duchy of the Aegean (1511-1517), commanding Antonio Loredano, the brother of the murdered duchess, to rule. Similar interventions and assumption of power were made by Venice during the period between 1494-1500.
Athanasios Kotsakis was born in Naxos. He has a PhD in the History of Civilization and many years of research experience in the medieval and modern history of the island of Naxos and its monuments.
Why take a self-guided tour?
This is a self-guided tour based on the award-winning storytelling concept developed by Clio Muse and the fascinating narratives prepared by our handpicked destination experts.
You can enjoy each multilingual tour by using your smartphone or tablet at your own pace even if you are offline. The interactive map on your screen will guide you step-by-step as you explore all points of interest along your route. Each stop comes with a selection of our signature stories allowing you to tailor the tour experience to your personal interests and schedule.
After downloading Clio Muse app, you can access this tour and activate it any moment you wish and also repeat it any time. To best enjoy our multimedia self-guided tour (comprising maps, video, audio and text) we recommend the use of headphones.
By clicking "Add to cart", you are purchasing this tour in English. This tour is also available in the following languages: Ελληνικά.