Portara is visible from a distance as the ship approaches Naxos and so is the small island with Panagia Myrtidiotissa in the middle of the port. The residential complex is impressive. The present meets the past of the settlement in the narrow alleys of Bourgo, Grotta and the castle. In the modern part, at Protodikio square there are shops, hotels, restaurants, cafes and bars.
The castle of Naxos was built when the Venetians came to the island and Markos Sanoudos founded the duchy of the Aegean Sea in 1207 – in fact, his tower was one of the first buildings that were made of an ancient material found around the citadel. Later the castle was inhabited by Latin nobles. They had their mansions there and in their fiefdoms they built towers preserved until today.
Islanders, vassals of the Duke settled outside the castle and gradually created the communities of Bourgo and Agora. The most recent ones, Grotta and Fountana, were created by Jews and Nio Chorio by Cretans and immigrands of Minor Asia. The houses, just like those inside the castle, have a circular layout and are attached to each other to form a wall that closes with gates.
The castle of Naxos is continuously inhabited ever since its creation. There are still families, whose members are direct descendants of nobles who came to Naxos after the 4th Crusade.
Following the structure of the medieval period, all streets lead to the centre, where there is a cathedral church and the tower of the ruler. There are three entrances: Trani Gate in the north (under the Krispi tower), Paraporti in the north which is the main entrance for visitors and Piso Paraporti in the east side.
After you climb the stairs you will get to Prantouna square and you can enter the castle if you pass Paraporti. Take Kazantzaki street and turn left to Della Rocca street. You will pass by the Venetian museum right next to the tower of Krispi. Walking further on Sanoudou street you will get to the centre where there are significant monuments dating back to the rule of the Latins. The orthodox church of Theoskepasti stands out among other monuments, catholic churches and monasteries. It is the oldest monument in the castle (9th or 10th century) that is built before the arrival of the Venetians and hosts many interesting icons.
BOURGO & AGORA
Bourgo and Agora are located north of the castle and used to be the neighborhoods of Romans, while the Catholics of Chora and the feudal lords lived inside the castle. There were three gates: the Gate of Gialos, the Gate of Prophet Elias and the Gate of the Jewish quarter. Strolling in the alleys you can admire old churches, like those of Metamorfosis, Agia Paraskevi and Agios Dimitrios. There are shops, restaurants, cafes, taverns. Walking in northeast direction, you will pass by some quiet alleys and go up the streets Apollonos and Welter to finally reach the castle. Follow the scent of see-iodine through the alleys and reach Mitropoleos square and the archaeological site located there.