• Flourishing civilizations since the 4th millennium BC

    with flourishing civilizations

    since the 4th millennium BC

  • Demeter's Temple

    impressive monuments

    that recently came to light

  • The museum at Apeiranthos village

    with finds

    of the early cycladic period

  • Faneromeni monastery

    monasteries and churches

    of historic and architectural importance

  • Development of modern Naxos

    bringing naxos

    to its glorious present

History of Naxos

The threads which link mythology to the island of Naxos are many. Zeus (the father of the gods), Semele, Dionysus, Ariadne, Demeter, Persephone, Iphimedeia, Pancratis, the giants Otus and Ephialtes are but a few of the names that figure in the action-packed legends surrounding the island. The people of Naxos worshipped Zeus the Melosios, protector of the flocks, and a temple was erected by the faithful in his honor on Mount Zas, which took its name from Zeus. The inscription "Mountain of Zeus the Melosios" can be seen carved on a rock there.

According to legend, the father of the gods was born in Crete but grew up on the island of Naxos, from where he set out to gain his Olympian throne.

The modern marble statue of Ariadne on the way to Palatia peninsula

Another epithet ascribed to him is Zeus Eubouleus, protector of the Naxians. Zeus, then, according to this myth, fell in love with Semele, daughter of King Cadmus of Thebes, and from their illicit union sprang Dionysus, god of wine and revelry. Urged on by Hera, Semele asked Zeus to appear before her in all his divine majesty. However, being a mere mortal, Semele was unable to withstand the volley of thunderbolts which accompanied the king of the gods, and she was literally thunderstruck and died before giving birth to her child. Zeus seized the foetus and stitched it up inside his thigh. When the time came for him to be born, Dionysus emerged from his father's thigh on the island of Naxos and was entrusted to some local nymphs, Filia, Coronis and Cleidi to nurture him and bring him up. Dionysus thus grew to love the island which had fostered him and used his divine power to make it a fertile, happy place, bestowing upon it the rich vineyards that produce the island's plentiful supplies of excellent wine.

Another myth tells us how Theseus, returning from slaying the Minotaur in Crete and bringing with him Ariadne, the daughter of King Minos, stopped off at the island of Naxos. There he had a dream in which Dionysus ordered him to depart alone from the island, leaving Ariadne behind, and, fearing the wrath of the god, Theseus did as he was told. Dionysus then abducted Ariadne and took her off to Mount Drios. The union between the god and the mortal resulted in the births of Oenopion, Staphylus and Evadne. According to P. Decharme, there were two Ariadnes: one of them was abandoned by Theseus on the island of Naxos where she died, and the other was the wife of Dionysus. The rites carried out in memory of the former are all ceremonies of mourning, whereas the celebrations connected with the second Ariadne are all accompanied by hymns of triumph. The people of Naxos used to hold an annual ceremony called the Dionysia, which included sporting events and sacrificial rites.

As soon as mythology passes the scepter to history, we can safely separate the island’s history in six (6) major sections, the Prehistoric Times, the Classical Era, the Byzantine Times, the Venetian Occupation, the Ottoman Occupation and the Contemporary History, each with its own distinct path that has led to the Naxos of today.

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The highlights of Naxos

The beaches of Naxos

The secluding beaches of Naxos

More than 30 beaches !!!

Yes, it is true. The island of Naxos offers the greatest variety of beaches you could ever hope to find & endless opportunities for explorations.

The villages of Naxos

The traditional villages of Naxos

Traditional or modern Naxos villages, inhabited or abandoned, one thing is for sure, you won't ever get bored.

The various activities

Naxos activities

A wide variety of activities during your holiday

Taste new experiences during your holiday on Naxos. You may enjoy surfing, walking, snorkelling, sailing, horseback riding, cooking and so many more ...

Family holidays on Naxos

Naxos holidays

Naxos is mostly a family destination. It is ideal for families with small children.

Top Naxos Beaches Photos

The best beaches of Naxos
Naxos.net friends have selected the most wonderful photos of Naxos beaches. Have fun ...
The historical periods of Naxos
Prehistoric times on Naxos
Naxos goes a long way back, with various civilizations flourishing on the island since the 4th millennium BC and it is speculated that the first inhabitants ...
The classical period of history of Naxos
Naxos’ importance and influence declined in the Classical age as did for most of the islands. In the face of the Persian invasion in 490 BC, Naxians adopted ...
Byzantine times on Naxos
With the rise of Rome, after 41 BC, Naxos was part of the Roman province of the islands which was governed from Rhodes. The Romans often utilized the island ...
Venetian history of Naxos
Venetian rule of Naxos took place between 1207 and 1537. Around 1207 AD, the Venetian Marco Sanudo landed with his men at Agiassos and after a siege ...
The history of Naxos during Ottoman occupation
Turkish rule of Naxos lasted from 1537 to 1829 when Naxos joined the modern Greek state. The Turks chose not to colonize Naxos and the other ...
The history of Naxos during modern times
True to feudal society, Naxian society was divided into three classes: the feudal lords and “masters” who lived in mansions, the peasants ...

the best of naxos

What's new (or old) on Naxos, from our blog articles.