Wednesday, 4 October 2023

The village of Halki

The bus deposited us here, and we had less than 2 hours to explore this village.

The village of Halki (Chalki) used to be the capital of the island as well as its main administrative and trade centre. It's located in the valley of Tragea, the principal olive cultivation area of the Cyclades. It's speculated that Halki's name is derived from a family of bronze smiths who were settled in the region by the Venetians (chalkos in Greek means bronze).

Halki has a long history and the numerous neoclassical houses and buildings are testimony to the wealth and power the village once exerted in the surrounding area. Apart from the old mansions and the picturesque churches, the village itself has colourful alleys that give visitors the sense that they have somehow gone back in time. Many well preserved houses, Venetian towers and Byzantine churches can be found in the area.

Halki was the first village we visited on that day, so it was relatively early and lots of cafes and tavernas had not opened yet. 

Cobbled narrow streets

We walked down the main street which is the centre of the village in terms of cafes and tavernas

it leads to the main square, where most of social life is conducted.

The square is very cool as it's shadowed by a huge, majestic plane tree.

Even though it was early morning, the spit in one of the tavernas was turning 

Narrow, cobbled alleyways as in every Greek village

some imposing houses

and some lovely gardens

with wells

and some sleepy inhabitants.

A wonderful, sheltered, cool sitting area in this house.

We wanted to see the Byzantine church of Agios Georgios Diasoritis  which is outside the village

the path that leads there was very pleasing

We came across this little church

ah! these arches

but we knew it was not the one we were after so we continued

down the path

yellow grass and olive trees on our left. The olive grove surrounds the village.

old olive trees have such amazing trunks

Mount Zas in the distance

and here's the church

It is speculated that the church was constructed upon the remains of an ancient temple. The structure dates back to the 11th century. 

Its architectural style is considered quite rare for Naxos, as it is a Byzantine edifice that appertains to the cruciform genre with symmetric lines and a dome.

Unfortunately, the church was closed when we visited. It was meant to open at 11:00 but by then we were on the bus on the way to the next village. It's a real shame as the interior is meant to be awe-inspiring, full of well-preserved frescoes.

So, after a while we headed back to the village

I wanted to have a look at Fish and Olive, a ceramics shop, but was not allowed in because even though the shop is quite large, there were already two customers in there, and the shop assistant could not cope with more than two people in the shop. I patiently waited outside for quite a while, and tried to get in when one of the people left, but was told that no, there was still a customer in there. Very odd. I eventually got in, had a look, was horrified by the prices which were exorbitant, laughed at the stickers on the pieces that said 'collector's item' for just normal studio pots, and left. I had wasted ten precious minutes of our time in Halki.

We stopped at Naxia Natura

that sells local produce like herbs, olives, jams, citron products

admired the neo-classical buildings

not neo-classical maybe, but certainly cute

and some of the old doors

This shop is a marble workshop and they sell copies of Cycladic art, but also some of their own creations

so we had a look inside

The chair made me laugh.

A little further down the road, the 17th century Barozzi Tower,

 a striking remnant of the island's lengthy occupation by the Venetians. 

It's apparently still privately owned so we could not go in and have a look.

Our last stop was the Citron distillery housed in the Vallindra mansion.

We entered the enclosed courtyard of the mansion

It's quite interesting seeing what these grand houses look like on the inside

We had a good look 

We were given a sample of Citron liqueur to taste and then it was time for us to catch our bus.

As were waiting at the bus stop I popped into this shop

that sold, amongst other things, some studio ceramics

including these lovely raku pieces.