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According to tradition, the first settlers of the island were the Thrakes. Later came the Kares with “Naxos” as their leader, who gave his name to the island.Excavations show that Naxos was already inhabited by the Neolithic period, while in the early Cycladic period it had several important settlements, playing a leading role in the growth of the Cycladic culture.

Its history is as old as Zas, the mountain where god Zeus grew up. It was inhabited since the 4th millennium B.C. and met its highest point from the 8th up to the 6th century B.C.  In 490 B.C. it was destroyed by their Persians, and later became a member of the Athenian alliance. In the Roman period it was a place of exile, in the Byzantine period it was pestered by piratical raids, while in 1207 it was occupied by Mark Sanoudos, nephew of the doge of Venice. Sanoudos conquered another 18 islands of the Aegean and founded the duchy of the Aegean with Naxos as capital. He built the castle of Hora in the place of the ancient citadel of the island and imposed feudalism. In 1537 the island devolved to the Ottoman Empire and remained in the possession of the Turks up to 1829 when it became part of the newly established Greek state.

Naxos is today the largest island of the Cyclades, and a popular island destination that reminds something of continental Greece, because it maintains its rural character even in these “tourist growth” years.
naxos map