+ Cycladia Travel Guides | History



Naxos Island Name

The Island of Naxos has been named after "Naxos", the King of the Kares tribe who were the island's first inhabitants. The island's capital is Naxos town, also known as Hora. It is quite usual in Greece to name an island's main town after the name of the island itself.

Naxos Population History

Naxos has been inhabited since the Neolithic period, around 4.000 B.C., by the Thraces tribe. But the period of its great development was the Cycladic period, around 3.000 B.C., when several settlements scattered all over the island, mostly gathered on its eastern side. The most developed settlement was found in Grotta, today's Hora (Naxos Town), with thoroughly built blocks of houses, cemeteries & household ceramic utensils. After all, Naxian people are renowned for their great efficiency in handcrafts.

Earlier Times

Before the rule of tyrant Lygdamis, during the 6th century B.C., Naxos founded, in collaboration with the city of Chalkida, the first Greek colony in Sicily. In fact, Naxos' colony represents the oldest one due to a temple dedicated to god Apollo discovered at the outskirts of the town. This ancient town does not exist nowadays because of the invasion of the city of Syracuse that resulted in its complete destruction. A modern touristic resort has been built on the ancient ruins, named Giardini Naxos.

During Lygdamis' rule, Naxos developed remarkably in economy & arts. Unfortunately, in 490 B.C. the island fell under the Persian rule and its people were massively slaughtered. After that, various tribes from within Greece conquered Naxos, till its governance was taken by the Romans.

Byzantine Times

Naxos was an important part of the Byzantine Empire and during the "dark times" of the empire (7th to 9th century) the island flourished economically. The introduction of Christianity comthbined with its great economic development is apparent even today due to the island's numerous churches and monasteries of various architectural styles.

Venetian Occupation

The gradual decline of the Byzantine Empire resulted in the occupation of Naxos by the Venetian Marcos Sanoudos. A new rule was then established on Naxos, where class discrimination was even more apparent. The contribution of the Naxian people to the local lords varied from their agriculture fields to small "gifts" such as cattle or vegetables. A greater immigration flow was marked in the 16th century when various Venetian families moved to the island and acquired a great part of its lands. The dominance of the Venetians is most apparent because of the various towers that exist even nowadays in the most fertile parts of the island. The main purpose of building towers was to protect the island from pirates, but it was also used as a symbol of dominance and superiority of their proprietors.

Later Times

In the mid 16th century the pirate Barbarossa invaded Naxos and the island was incorporated within the Turkish Empire. Naxos remained under Turkish dominance until 1821, when the Greek revolution against the Turks took place and the whole country was liberated.

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