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Hora (Naxos)

portApproaching Naxos by ferry, one can't help but notice the little islet of Palatia out beyond the harbor, with its much photographed Portara, the huge marble portal of an unfinished 6th century temple to Apollo..

The dun-colored Venetian castle (Kastro) spreads out along the top of the town, offering some fine leisurely exploration, with a little archaeological museum, another museum which displays the original furnishings of an historic residence, a churches, antique stores, artists' workshops, and a venue for the local cinema.

townBelow it, the Old Market Town has produce and other markets, and many shops selling jewelry, rugs, antiques, clothing, with some little tavernas and cafes tucked away on the narrow lanes here and there. During the off season, Hora still keeps a lot of the character of the island port, but gets totally during peak season, though one can always head for the hills.

One of the oldest of the traditional tavernas , run by the Boulamatsis family, has a blue balcony up above a large open square on the waterfront, where one can view the dishes displayed in the 'vitrina' (glass case) . Prices are reasonable and and portions generous . The annual summer festival is held on the large square out front, though the old town square, Courthouse Square (Protodhikiou) is farther south, with some cafes, an internet café, tourist office and other stores.

beachesThe town beach (Ayios Yorgos) is beyond the square, with shallow water. The road that heads inland from the harbor on the north end of town passes the Orthodox metropolis (cathedral), with a huge green dome, created in the 18th century from earlier churches and an earlier temple; there's a small archaological museum near it.. The settlement of Grotta, up on the hill by the sea sits over remains of a town, with an ancient road under the waters of the bay below it.



More on the Kastro (castle)

naxos castleNaxos was a Duchy under the Venetian Duke, Marco Sanudo and his successors from 1207 to 1564. The 13th century castle, above the old Orthodox Greek town of Bourgos , retains only two of its seven original towers.

The north gate is a fine beautiful entry point into this medieval fortress, with old its old Venetian houses (some of them occupied by descendants of the old Venetian families), the Della Rocca museum housed in one of them. Bi weekly performances of Greek traditional music, with young dancers in costume, are held during the warmer months on a veranda below the museum, posters regularly plastered all over town.

Local spirits are included in the tickets. Though happily unelectrified, the presentation is very much a staged event geared towards tourists, and the tourist euro.

Also found within the Kastro complex is the Roman Catholic cathedral, a 17th century Ursuline convent, and a 17th century French school attended by both Catholics and Orthodox Christians, one of whose pupils was Nikos Kazantzakis.

The Archaeological Museum is now housed in the old school building (open Tues-Sun 8:30 am-2:30 pm, 3 euros admisson). Finds are from Naxos, Dhonoussa, Koufonnissi and Keros (the latter three among the smaller islands to the east and south of Naxos), including some fine figurines from the Early Cycladic period, some of the earliest sculpture found in Greece.

Late Mycenaean artifacts found in Grotta, date from 1400 to 1l00 BC, and include vessels with an octopus motif (which still appears in present day local art). Archaic and Classical sculpture and pottery from Neolithic through Roman times is also displayed.; the roof has fine mosaic floor.

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