Naxos History

The beginning of the history of Naxos is lost somewhere in the mythical field

  • Palaeolithic era Stone tools from the Palaeolithic era, dating between 70,000 and 250,000 B.C., have been unearthed in recent excavations. Additionally, the extinct dwarf elephant Palaeoloxodon lomolinoi inhabited Naxos until the arrival of hominids on the island.
  • Stone Age Archaeological finds confirm the existence of a sophisticated society as early as the fourth millennium BC. Naxos Island has been continuously inhabited since then.
  • Neolithic period The Neolithic period (8,000-3,200 BC) is attested to the inhabitation of the island in the present-day city of Naxos and other sites, like Cave of Za, Sagri, Moutsouna, and Psili Ammos.
  • Bronze Age (3200-1100 BC) During this period, the Cycladic people developed navigation and opened sea routes of communication with all the peoples of the Aegean coast and the Eastern Mediterranean. Naxos emerged as a significant centre of the Cycladic culture. At the dawn of the 2nd millennium BC, the baton of naval domination in the Aegean was passed to Minoan Crete. After the eruption of the volcano of Santorini around 1760 BC which caused the abrupt fall of the Minoan civilization, the power of Mycenae emerged. Naxos becomes the bridge between central Greece and the East.
  • Geometric Era (1100-700 BC)  Naxos was colonised by the Ionians, marking the beginning of a period characterised by remarkable growth. 
  • Archaic Era (700-480 BC) The island experienced its peak during the seventh and sixth centuries BC. This period sees flourishing arts, particularly sculpture and architecture, thanks in part to the abundance of marble on the island. Significant works from this period are unearthed, such as the statues of Kouro, temple of Yria, and the temple of Apollo, Portara, that date back to this period. The end of the island’s golden period ended in 490 BC when Naxos was destroyed by the Persians.
  • Classical Era (480-323 BC) After the final defeat of the Persians by the Greeks at the battle of Salamis, Naxos became a member of the Athenian League. Herodotus describes Naxos circa as the most prosperous Greek island.
  • Hellenistic Era (323-41 BC) The Himarros tower, one of the island’s most important monuments, was constructed during this period. It is situated near the village of Filoti. Another ancient tower, Palaiopyrgos, is located between Tripodes and Plaka beach.
  • Roman Era (41 BC-AD 330) In 41 BC, Naxos became a Roman province and served as a place of exile.
  • Byzantine Era (330-1207) With the advent of Christianity in the fourth century, numerous churches were built over ancient temples; nowadays over 500 churches can be found on the island. The Byzantines constructed castles and fortifications throughout the island, which served as the Byzantine capital’s foothills.
  • Venetian Rule (1207-1537) In 1207, Marco Sanudo landed with his men at Agiassos, besieged and conquered the island. He subsequently seizes 18 more islands in the Aegean, establishes the Duchy of Naxos with the island as its seat, and creates a small feud. The capital is relocated from Apaliros to Hora, where its hill forms a natural acropolis. Sanudo constructs Chora’s fortified castle using materials from the ancient city. The island’s rulers build their towers around and outside the castle for protection or as summer residences. Sanudi family will command till 1383 where the family of Crispi will succeed to the throne for 183 more years.
  • Turkish Rule (1537-1829) The Ottoman administration remained essentially in the hands of the Venetians; the Porte’s concern was satisfied by the returns of taxes. Very few Turks ever settled on Naxos, and Turkish influence on the island was insignificant. Naxos remained under Turkish control until 1832 when it became part of the modern Greek status