Drove all the way up, crossing snake-shaped roads between small villages and arrived at Kinidaros village, where I would be staying for the rest of the week.
As you will see in the photos below, Kinidaros is a small village on a rocky mountain. Because of the rocky ground you often get to see lizards here and there and of course goats, happy donkeys etc. The houses are painted with white colors to reflect back and not to absorb the heat. You see, especially in the summer, the sun is so hot that the temperatures get really high and the ground burns. To get to each house, you have to follow some stairs often, because the village follows the upwards way of the mountain and the people build their houses higher and higher. At night, the temperature gets low so while during the day you wanted to get rid of your clothes, then you apparently need a jacket. Kinidaros, is also called Apikrantos which in Greek means "the one with no sorrows" and this is because singing and dancing never stops, as music is a big part of the life in that little village. Almost every person in Kinidaros can play a musical instrument or at least can sing very well. Top moment was when I was waking up each morning to the sounds of the characteristic traditional musical instrument laouto, also found in Crete and other Greek islands.
Portara by night.
Later that day, we drove to what is called Hora, meaning the central place of the island of Naxos. There, we visited the legendary Portara. Portara is situated on a small rocky island on the fringe of the harbor of Naxos, and it is the monument which makes the most impression on the visitors. It is the island’s trademark. Over the centuries the local people have given it the name Portara (i.e. huge door). This monument, forgotten by time, is the gigantic marble gateway into what was once a temple dedicated to Apollo. The temple was built in the 6th century BC, during the reign of the tyrant Lygdamis, when Naxos was a prominent naval, commercial and cultural centre. Today this small island on which the temple was built is called Palatia. The Christians built a church over the remains of the ancient temple, as was customary at that period. Around the church an important settlement developed. During the time of the Venetian rule, several marble architectural remains from the temple were used to build the castle. To get to Portara, we had to cross a road thing made of concrete, which was framed by the sea on the right and on the left side. In Winter, this concrete raod is not accessible since the waters of the sea cover it and it cannot be used. As the legend goes, the mythical princess of ancient Greek times, Ariadne, had committed suicide jumping from the rock of Portara when she found out that the mythical hero Theseus (yes, the one who killed Minotauros in Creta) had abandoned her. I looked below the rocks where the waves were crashing on the stones and the view was truly breathtaking. Scary to think someone ever jumped from there; the princess had guts.
The archaeological museum
Findings from the archaeological excavations, works of art and tools ranging from the prehistoric times up to early Byzantine times (4th century BC to 6th century AD) are on display in the archaeological Museum of Naxos. The exhibits come from Naxos and the small surrounding islands of Keros, Donousa and Koufonisia. Most of these artifacts have been discovered in tombs and are made of gold, silver and bronze, clay and marble: pottery, tools and bronze weapons. The museum has a large collection of Cycladic idols. The later Mycenaean period (1400 BC - 1100 BC) is represented by rare specimens of pottery, objects made from ivory and gold, beads from semi-precious stones and rings etc. From the Geometric period there are large pitchers and other pots on display, and from the Roman period, wonderful glass objects. There is also a collection of statues and tomb columns. I took as many pictures as I could!
Near Melanes, at the village Flerio, there is a half finished statue of a kouros which has been left lying in an olive grove, just in the place where the ancient sculptors left it. It dates to the 7th century BC, and is one of the best known statues of its kind in Naxos. I got to see this one too.
Back to the village of Kinidaros there is this old olive oil making "factory", now abandoned and used as a museum with all the tools the people used to make olive oil and bread. They call it "liotrivi".
The Temple of Demeter on Naxos is located near the village of Sangri. This magnificent temple has been made of the finest quality of Naxos marble and is believed to date back to the 6th century BC. As Demeter was the ancient goddess of grain, people used to build temples to her close to fertile areas. Such a fertile ground is found around the village of Sangri, on Naxos. Some excavations in the area certify that the area was used for religious purpose since the late Mycenaean Era. That time, the cult of the gods was open air. The temple was built in around 530 B.C in the classical architectural style. The temple declined after the 3rd century B.C. With the domination of Christianity, the temple of Demeter was turned into a Christian religious center and a small chapel was built in the center of the temple. This chapel was dedicated to Agios Ioannis and was constructed using the marble of the ancient temple. The church was probably ruined in the 6th century A.D., after an invasion of the Arabs. It was rebuilt in 1977 in a southern location. The remains of the ancient temple of Demeter were discovered by the archaeologist Nikolaos Kontoleon in 1949. The excavation works lasted from 1976 to 1995. Ruins of the temple were found all over the area, although much of its precious marble had been stolen. In the middle 1990s, a group of German archaeologists restored the temple to its ancient glory. Today, the Temple of Demeter is one of the most beautiful ancient temples, set in a picturesque environment. It can be reached by car. It is found in Ano Sangri, at a distance of about 10 km from Naxos Town.
More to come soon on new blog posts :)