Transport yourself to a bygone era as you step into the magnificent Naxos Castle. This enchanting fortress allows you to experience the architectural grandeur and intricate details of a medieval city. What sets it apart is its continuous habitation since the Venetians constructed it, providing an authentic glimpse into the past.
Located in Chora, the Castle of Naxos was established in 1207 by Marco Sanoudo, a Venetian diplomat and soldier. Initially boasting twelve imposing towers, only one tower remains standing today. Remarkably, Sanoudo's castle was erected upon the ancient ruins of the Acropolis of Naxos, lending an even deeper historical significance to its structure.
Within the castle town, numerous noble families constructed magnificent houses and towers. While many have not withstood the test of time, the surviving ones date back to the 14th and 15th centuries and bear the coats of arms of Catholic nobility. Notably, Marco Sanoudo conquered a total of 17 Aegean islands, including Naxos, and established the Duchy of Archipelagos.
At the heart of this captivating settlement lies a beautiful square, adorned with a Catholic church featuring the Byzantine icon of Panagia. As you wander through the cobbled streets, be sure to admire the Della Rocca Barozzi Tower, an exquisite mansion that once housed the renowned Venetian Museum of the island, which has now closed its doors.
Adjacent to the Archaeological Museum and situated within the castle's center is the Ursuline School & Merchant Academy. Established in 1628 under the guidance of Jesuit monks, the school provided education to the Catholic youth of Naxos. The monastery housed separate schools for boys and girls, making it a trailblazer in women's education by establishing the first girls' school in Greece. Today, it serves as a cultural center, preserving its rich heritage.
Of the original three gates of the castle, two remain intact. The southern gate, Paraporti, stands as the main entrance, welcoming visitors into a world of tranquility. The northern entrance, Trani Porta, adds an extra touch of medieval charm. As you pass through these surviving gateways, you'll find yourself immersed in a labyrinth of narrow alleys, allowing your imagination to conjure visions of medieval life, perhaps catching a glimpse of mischievous medieval boys at play.
The Naxos Castle is a captivating testament to the island's history and architectural marvels. It invites you to explore its hallowed grounds, unveiling the secrets of the past while providing a serene escape from the present. As you traverse its storied pathways, you'll be transported to an era of wonder and intrigue, where tales of knights and nobles echo through the ages.
Κάστρο Χώρας, Naxos, South Aegean 843 00, Greece