Iria The Temple of Dionysus Naxos

A Naxos sightseeing great stop for history buffs. One of the most important sanctuaries of Naxos, was an ancient shrine dedicated to god Dionysus. Its archaeological site dates back to the prehistoric times, between the Mycenean era in 14th century BC and the Roman period 1300 BC, and it’s located south of Naxos town, in Iria, near the village of Glinado. Its importance is attested not only by splendid architectural finds, but also by the numerous votive offerings dedicated to god Dionysus worshipped.

Iria Naxos

The place of the temple, in the middle of a fertile valley called Livadi, was been in cult use. The ceremonial holdings were originally practised outdoors and continued until about 800 BC. At that time, the first temple structure was built on the site. After that, another 3 different shrine buildings were built , and festivities of Dionysus with wine were taking place.

The ancient historian Herodotus had reported the existence of a second large temple, except the temple of god Apollo the Portara, near the Naxos town, which was said to be dedicated to Dionysus. For many decades,  there were attempts by archaeologists to locate this Dionysus’ temple. From 1986 to 1991, the temple area was excavated by Greek and German archaeologists. The sancturay of Iria was located in 1982, and after archaelogical investigation was presented to the public in 1996. This temple was converted into a Christian basilica in the 5th or 6th century AD. Frequent floods, however, caused it to be abandoned and worship was transferred to the neighboring church of Agios Georgios.

The Iria sanctuary clearly shows Naxos’ pioneering contribution to the formation of Greek architectural forms, and provides a unique picture of the unbroken continuity of a high civilization for over 3,000 in the heart of the Aegean.

According to mythology, Naxos believed to be the residence of god Dionysus who emerged from Zeus, and he was brought up on Naxos by the local nymphs.

Dionysus grew up loving the island, and used his power to make the land fertile, and filled with vineyards which produced the finest wines. The local people built a temple on the island in his honor. In antiquity, Naxos was famous for its wine production that was traded all over Greece and the Mediterranean. The cult of him was widely developed in the island.  Even today, the sacred plant of Dionysus, the vine, thrives here. The temple area is planted with olive trees and vine.

Iria Dionysus Temple Naxos

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