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Cyclades:Dazzling white villages, golden beaches and clear azure water are just the start of what these islands have to offer
Within easy reach of Athens, these are the Aegean’s most precious gems. Ancient Greek geographers gave this unique cluster of islandsthe name Cyclades because they saw that they formed a circle (kyklos) of sorts around the sacred island of Delos. According to myth, the islands were the debris that remained after a battle between giants. In reality, they resulted from colossal geological events like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Their colours are blue and white like the Greek flag. The islands come in all sizes and, though the ingredients are the same – incomparable light, translucent water, heavenly beaches, lustrous white buildings and bare rock, each one has its own distinct character. The group’s stars, Mykonos and Santorini, need no introduction but the lesser-known islands, big and small, are just as rewarding. For starters, try aristocratic Syros, cosmopolitan Paros, the sculptors’ paradise of Tinos, bountiful Naxos, exotic Milos and historic Delos, not to mention the ‘hidden gems’ that adorn the Aegean, such as Tzia/Kea, Kythnos, Sifnos, Serifos, Amorgos, Sikinos, Anafi and Folegandros. Whether you’re travelling with your family, friends or sweetheart, you’re bound to find your summer paradise in the sun in the Cyclades.
Long beaches and mediaeval towers, lush valleys and high mountains... and delicious local produce
Welcome to the largest island in the Cyclades, Naxos. So fertile, it’s self-sufficient. Here you’ll find plenty of history, ruins from every era, a kaleidoscope of landscapes, friendly locals and wonderful food in the most beautiful part of the Aegean.
Entering the harbour, you’re greeted by the ancient Portara – the massive marble gateway identical to the logo of the National Geographic – and the sight of the mediaeval castle above the town. Inland, you’ll find isolated mediaeval villages, untouched by time, like Tripodes, Filoti, Halki and Apeiranthos, that invite you to explore their beauty. You’ll find Mt. Zas (another name for Zeus), green valleys, abandoned monasteries, venerable churches, and lofty towers like Bazeos Tower. Built in the 17th century, the tower functioned as a monastery of the True Cross (Timios Stavros) for decades.
Today it hosts a wide array of cultural activities, such as the Naxos Festival. If you’re a sun worshipper, Naxos’s endless stretch of gorgeous sandy beaches will keep you blissfully happy during your holiday. And if you’re even remotely interested in antiquities and culture, you’ll make sure to see the two giant kouroi – statues of young men – lying down in the open.