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Naxos is the largest island of the Cyclades, and although it is comparatively unknown relative to Greece’s many other island idylls, it is one of the most enchanting places for any visitor.
Despite flying somewhat under the radar, the island is one of the most interesting places in Greece. It boasts a magnificent history, with influences from the Franks and the Venetians, who are responsible for numerous monuments from the Middle Ages. The island is completely overtaken by history.
Apart from boasting a fascinating past, Naxos possesses a lovely natural landscape, since it is the greenest island in the Cyclades archipelago. As well as having beautiful beaches, its rural villages are set into a backdrop of green valleys and mountains.
The island is also unique because it incorporates four smaller islets, Koufonissia, Iraklia, Donoussa, and Schinoussa which actually belong to the municipality of Naxos and the Small Cyclades. Travelers here have the unique opportunity of experiencing five islands in one destination.
This gives added value to the island, since it offers the chance to hop on over to these smaller islets and experience their almost completely untouched, romantic beauty.
With captivating legends, myths and history, stunning landscapes, and gastronomic specialties, Naxos is definitely worth discovering.
According to myth, Zeus grew up here, finding refuge in the cave while being hunted by his father, Cronus. It was here that Zeus became ruler of Olympus, after being given the power over lightning, and to honor him, the residents of Naxos named the cave as well as the mountain after him.
Remains from various historical periods including Roman, Neolithic, and many others, were found in archaeological research carried out in this Naxos cave in 1962. It is also known to have been used as a refuge during the Ottoman Occupation.
Two different paths lead to the cave. One begins near the village of Danakos, and the other near Filoti. While exploring near the cave, you will also find the fountain of Aries, which still has potable water even today.
Mount Zas, the tallest mountain on the island, is also the tallest mountain in the Cyclades. The peak of
Mount Zas, with an altitude of about 1,000 meters, or 3,000 feet, above sea level, is a popular destination for mountain climbers and hikers on Naxos.
Trekking from Danakos, one passes the small chapel of St. Marina, as well as the Cave of Zas and an inscription on a piece of ancient marble which translates as “Mount Zas, protector of the sheep.” This shows the great importance given to stockbreeding on the island since ancient times.
Trekkers can experience enchanting panoramic views of the Aegean sea, as well as the neighboring islands of the Cyclades, from the top of Mt. Zas.