The Castle of Naxos Town which is actually the old Venetian town, is a Naxos sightseeing, a really interesting place to visit. Behind the district in Naxos’s town and the port, a labyrinth of narrow backstreets and vaulted alleys lead up to the old town known as “Kastro”, where a fascinating era of Greek history, a hidden world of the Medieval period unfolds behind the walls of this citadel.
The Kastro occupies the roughly circular summit of the Prehistoric, Classical and Byzantine acropolis.
Along with the Glezos Tower, it was originally built under the supervision of the Venetian conqueror Markos II Sanoudos and his successors who ruled the Cyclades in the Aegean in 1207. In 1968, the Glezos tower underwent comprehensive restoration.
The fortification adjoining the Castle (Kastro) had pentagonal shape and three gates, two of which still exist today:
- Paraporti, which is the southern gate and main entrance for visitors
- Trani Porta (Strong Gate) in the northern entrance, and
- Piso Paraporti, the southeastern gate which has not been saved.
If you go during the day, you can see traces of the original architecture. The fortress circuit towers, particularly the Glezos tower, is impeccably preserved even to this day.
Within this Castle enclave there are several Catholic buildings:
- A 17th century Ursuline convent where young ladies of the Venetian aristocracy were educated
- Next to the restored 13th century cathedral is the Mitropoleos Museum which contains artifacts from the remains of the Mycenaean city (13th– 11th century BC)
- Nearby is a school opened by the Jesuits in 1627 where pupils such as the Cretan writer Nikos Kazantzakis once attended. The school is now the Archaeological Museum and contains many rare, white marble Cycladic figurines.
- The Venetian Folklore museum, Domus Della-Rocca-Barozzi. An 800 year old tower-mansion belonging to the Della Rocca family, The owners have preserved the atmosphere and glamour of the building, transforming it into a folkloric museum. Walking into this tower is a journey back in time.
The neighborhood retains its medieval charm. Passing through the surviving gates, the visitor enters another world of tranquility, narrow alleys, courtyards adorned with flowers, and old mansions with coats of arms on their lintels. Here, you can not help but imagine life back in Venetian times. You get a real sense of how life must have been back in those times, and how the Venetians rulers have influenced the people and culture of Naxos.
If you want to discover more details about the Kastro read here
In 1207, the Venetian ruler Marko Sanudo conquered Naxos, and founded the Ducat of Naxos, and later on the one of Archipelago, which lasted for 3 decades. If you like to read about Marco Sanudo who built the Castle, read here
Tthe Archaeological Society intends to build a museum here, and restoration work is still going on. Upon successful completion of the work, it will become the foremost Byzantine Museum in the whole of Cyclades. Since the year 1995 work on building the museum commenced, and is an ongoing activity to nowdays.
During the summer, the castle hosts cultural activities such as music concerts by local musicians anddancers in traditional costumes, and art exhibitions by international artists are held in the Castle’s garden which has spectacular views of the harbour.
Naxos sightseeing Castle or Kastro in Chora Naxos town will certainly get you on a Medieval path with all its historical, cultural and fairytale vibes!