naxos greece - Porto Naxos hotel

History & Culture

Naxos is most famous for being the centre of the Cycladic civilization during the Neolithic era, but it is also the only island that is constantly inhabited from that time and through all the different periods of history. Its fertile valleys always provided the islanders with local products, helping them bare sieges, iron rules, famines and attacks, but also making them excellent traders of unique products that were sought after all over the Mediterranean.

The significant Cycladic culture spanned during the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age and is globally renowned for its female idols that are carved out of the island’s pure white marble. After the Bronze Era’s Minoan Culture dominance was abruptly ended by the Santorini volcano eruption, Naxos, along with the other Cyclades, fell to the influence of the Greek Mainland powers, but retained its glory and wealth. In the classical era, Naxos truly enjoyed its best period. The island treasury and commercial power were so great that the biggest island of the Cyclades, even tried -unsuccessfully- to leave the Athenian sphere of influence. However, being the “most prosperous Greek island” according to Herodotus has its downsides. It was in Naxos that the powerful Persian Empire first invaded, with devastating results for all, but a shocking defeat for the Persians; the latter ones hadn’t calculated correctly the naval power of Naxos, making them withdraw and re-evaluate their invasion plans.

During the course of Greek history, Naxos witnessed the Romans and their PAX Romana, but also the rise of Christianity that demolished or completely altered the ancient temples and monuments. During the Byzantine period, Naxos maintained its state as the head of the Cyclades and when the Venetians took it over, they established the Duchy of Naxos which controlled all the Aegean, or what was also called the Archipelago. When the Ottomans won Naxos in 1564 they didn’t change a thing and few of them ever stepped on the island itself, letting it enjoy the benefits of its trade. Many historians believe that it was the Venetians and locals who were still in charge when Naxos became part of the newly formed Greek autonomous state in 1832.