Naxos Sailing Tours

Yacht Annabella docks at Naxos Town Seafront, opposite Rendez-vous Café.

Captain George and Yacht Annabella guarantees a magical, an unforgettable and above all, a safe sailing experience for you, your family and your friends

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Historical Overview

Naxos History

Historical Overview

Historical Overview

The island was first inhabited in the Neolithic period with significant signs of occupation in the 4th millennium. In some accounts, the island gained its name from Naxos, the king of the Carians who settled on the island. From the 3rd millennium the Cyclades displayed a distinct culture of their own – epitomised by the distinct Cycladic sculpture which had a penchant for minimalist standing figures carved from marble.


From the middle Bronze Age, Naxos and the Cyclades were influenced by the Minoan civilization based on Crete and the later mainland-based Mycenaean civilization – evidenced in both architecture and art. The most important settlement at this time was Grotta, located on the western coast.


Settlers from Ionia occupied the island from c.1025 BCE. In the 8th century BCE the island, through export of its local marble and emery, was prosperous enough to found colonies. Naxos, in a joint venture with Chalkis, founded the city of Naxos in Sicily in 735 BCE, the first Greek colony on the island. Another example of Naxos’ wealth is the various monumental dedications that were made at the great sanctuary sites such as Delos (the famous marble lions) and Delphi (the celebrated Sphinx).

However, it was in the late 6th century BCE that Naxos enjoyed its political and cultural zenith when the tyrant Lygdamis, assisted by his Athenian ally Peisistratus, took control of the island. During this period there was an extensive rebuilding programme to improve the various temples of the sanctuaries and Naxos became the dominant force in the Cyclades.


In the 5th century BCE the island became the centre of a revolution against Ionia when Naxian sailors backed the invading Persians, who attempted to occupy the island in c. 499 BCE. The strategy failed but in 490 BCE the Persians once more attacked and this time sacked the island, leaving those inhabitants not slaughtered, enslaved. Consequently, in the battles of Salamis (480 BCE) and Plataea (479 BCE) the Naxians, with their fleet of triremes, understandably sided with the Athenians against the Persians.


In 474 BCE Naxos became a member of the Delian League. However, in c. 467 BCE Naxos rebelled against Athenian domination of the League but ultimately the island was brought into line and from c. 450 BCE an Athenian cleruchy established a semi-dependent status on the island, albeit with a reduced tribute payable to Athens.

Naxos was taken by the Romans in 41 BCE and during the Byzantine period, in the 5th and 6th centuries CE, many of the pagan temples, including that of Apollo, were converted into Christian churches.

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