Naxos (Νάξος) is the largest of the Cyclades and has the mountains to prove it. It offers the best of both worlds, a classic island experience balanced by an occasional sense of being pleasantly landlocked in the deep heart of the mountains. It was on Naxos that an ungrateful Theseus is said to have abandoned Ariadne after she helped him escape the Cretan labyrinth. In keeping with classical soap opera, she didn’t pine long, and was soon entwined with Dionysos, the god of wine and ecstasy and the island’s favourite deity. Naxian wine has long been considered a useful antidote to a broken heart.
Naxos was a cultural centre of classical Greece and of Byzantium, while Venetian and Frankish influences have left their mark. It is more fertile than most of the other islands and produces olives, grapes, figs, citrus fruit, corn and potatoes. Mt Zeus (1004m; also known as Mt Zas) is the Cyclades’ highest peak and is the central focus of the island’s interior where you find such enchanting villages as Halki and Apiranthos. There are numerous sandy beaches and the island is a great place to explore on foot along the many surviving paths between villages, churches and other sights. There are walking guides and maps available from local bookshops.
Naxos destination guides
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