While our heart belongs to our home island of Paros, Naxos is a big brother that we love dearly. Whenever we have time for a short break we head to this nearby neighbor–so close in fact that some people swim between Paros and Naxos.
Karin and I just got back from two days of touring Naxos. It was our post season break; we found it enjoyable and relaxing. We spend most of the time winding up and down the mountain roads and found it quite interesting to compare and contrast to Paros and the other islands that we have visited.
I have advised many travelers that Naxos is much like Paros except that the tourist facilities are all in a strip along the West coast. This is true in comparison to the islands of Mykonos, Ios and Santorini which are each distinctly different. But it is not complete in that Naxos does have a unique character in its mountain villages, its extensive agriculture and it’s relatively large central city.
Another time with Joyce, our visiting cousin, Karin and I took a one day excursion to Naxos. We have travelled around quite a bit on previous visits yet I was surprised how much mining activity I saw this time. Some of it current; some obsolete.
Included in our wanderings was Moutsouna, a beach town on the nearly uninhabited east side of the island. The mining history visible there reminded me of Crete as told in Zorba the Greek. At one time this was the world center of emery mining and export. Now you can get excellent fresh fish dinners surrounded by historical artifacts. Like this ski lift, . . . I mean ore tramway.
While Paros is known for the ancient marble used in many famous statutes, Naxos is a major source of construction quality marble to this day. Can you imagine the vast tons that are sawed out of this mountain? We also saw another mountain being dismantled but couldn’t get close enough for a picture.
Look closely for the large piece of machinery in the bottom center of the close-up photo for perspective as to the size of the pit. (It is on the first level of white.)
Another view of Naxos and the mines on a crisp clean October day. Taken from Tsoukalia on Paros.
So many photo opportunities get away from us. Here is one that didn’t.
We had just passed a marble cutting factory on the right and noticed their discard pile to the left. As we got closer we saw the small herd of goats sunning themselves in the late afternoon. They found us interesting to watch as well.
Riding the back roads into the isolated valley that holds the ancient Temple of Demeter I felt I was living a scene from countless movies that I saw as a child. We were the explorers searching for the treasure that was not visible to mere passers by. Then we found ourselves in a hidden valley lush in vegetation and at its center a magnificent temple.
It was quite interesting. This site is maintained by the Ministry of Culture so it has explanatory descriptions as well as a museum.