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naxos, greece
Naxos, Greece (Image by WeeFee_Photography from Pixabay)

Naxos, Greece

Largest and most fertile of the Cyclades, and often described as the most beautiful, Naxos is green and mountainous with distinctive architecture and sandy beaches. It is a prosperous agricultural area, growing olives, potatoes, fruit and the citrus - a large fruit used to make preserves and a sweet liqueur, which Naxos exported worldwide in the 19th century. Recently, tourism has become important. 

The island has been inhabited since Neolithic times. During the Classical era, its fine white marble was famously used for sculpture and architecture. In 1207 Marco Sanudi founded the Venetian Duchy of Naxos. Later, Cretan refugees colonized the east. 

Naxos Town is the bustling and enjoyable port capital. Up from the waterfront, steep alleys wind under archways to the Kastro, the Venetian capital. Many houses still bear the insignia of the original residents; during siesta the atmosphere is hushed, timeless.

The town beach is pleasant but busy; further south, resorts are smaller and the sands emptier. Inland Naxos is scenic and fascinating. The Tragea, the central high plain around Mount Zeus, is a lovely region of olive groves, little churches and traditional villages. Apiranthos, a hilly collection of fine stone houses, is an excellent base for walker. It has several small museums. The villagers are descendants of the Cretans.

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