Castles and towers of Naxos

castles and towers of Naxos

Naxos topoGuide
Naxos topoGuide: Fotodotis monastery, one of the most prominent fortresses of Naxos

In all historical periods - antiquity, medieval times, modern era - Naxos, rich, well populated and gifted, was one of the most desirable places of the Aegean archipelago. Raiders, temporary conquerors and long-time settlers clashed countless times with locals over the domination of its natural resources, its geograpical position and wealth potential.
As a consequence, all the lords of the island - native and foreigners - took care of the defense of this enviable land. They built towers and watchtowers to control the shores, citadels and castles to hide, bridges and roads to move safely, ports and hideouts to escape. The peaks of the innumerable hills and the lacy beaches of Naxos are today full of defensive constructions of all time and all techniques.
The most important defensive structures of Naxos are the prehistoric Acropolis of Panormos, the Castle of Chora, the Castle of Apaliros, the Castle of Kalogiros and the Apano Kastro of Tsikalario, the scattered ancient towers, such as the tower of Chimaros, the numerous medieval towers, such as the towers of Della Rocca, Kalamitsia, Bellonia, Paleologos, Gracias, Papadakis, Markopolis, Barozzi, Athalassa, Bazaios, Oscellos and Agias and finally the fortified monasteries, such as the Fotodotis monastery.
Among them, the Castle of Apaliros is one of the most interesting Byzantine citadels in the Aegean.

The castle of Apaliros

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Naxos topoGuide: The castle of Apaliros

The castle of Apaliros stretches its long walls, towers and bastions on the rocky backbone of a steep peak in Central Naxos, between Sagri and Agiassos, in an area that today belongs to the village of Damarionas. The name of the castle is derived from the local name of shrub Black hawthorn (Rhamnus lycioides subsp. oleoides).
The length of the walls reaches 800 meters, while the area they cover is estimated at 2 acres.

Naxos topoGuide
Naxos topoGuide: The main cistern of the castle

Although it is not clear when the castle was founded, it appears to have existed already in the 7th century, and it is certain that it was abandoned in the 13th century, after being occupied and destroyed by Marco Sanudo. In the meantime, it is known that it was conquered in 850 by the Saracens.

Naxos topoGuide
Naxos topoGuide: The chapel of Theoskepasti, at the foot of the hill

Recent research has revealed that the castle of Apaliros was not a mere fort, but it was essentially the acropolis of the the Byzantine capital of the island that flourished at the foot of the hill, in the plain of Adissaros and around the great spring. From the large number of houses (about 250) and auxiliary buildings (cisterns, ovens, oil presses and churches), still visible in the vast ruins of Apaliros, it is certain that the castle housed, at least in times of extreme instability, a significant population.

Chimaros tower

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Naxos topoGuide: The Chimaros tower

The tower of Chimaros is one of the best preserved towers of the classical period in the Aegean sea. It is a sturdy four-storey circular building with an external diameter of 9.2 m and a height of approximately 15 meters. The exterior of the masonry is preserved in quite good condition, consisting of well carved and perfectly fitted blocks, whle the inner layers of the wall were not so well adapted, resulting in large sections having collapsed.
The gate is on the ground level, and 10m higher there is the only window of the tower: both openings look south, that is, towards the sea.

Paliopyrgos Plakas tower

Paliopyrgos Plakas tower is 1.8 km far from Plaka beach. It is built on the southern foot of the rocky hill Stroumboula, at the top of which still lie the ruins of two windmills. The perimeter of the foundation and much of the north wall, consisting of large well-carved blocks, are preserved. The building dates back to the 5th century BC.

Find the location

Photos and descriptions of castles and towers of Naxos are included in the application Naxos topoGuide. The application is available for Android devices as well as for iOS devices (iPhone and iPad) by AnaDigit.