Friday 22 September 2023

Portara in Naxos

As we were having our pre-dinner drinks on our first early evening in Naxos, in what became our favourite bar, we could see people rushing to the north part of the Hora. It quickly became obvious that they were all heading to the same spot. Once we finished our drinks we decided to investigate. It soon became clear that they were all heading towards Portara - we had been told that the best time to see it was during the sunset, and this is what all these people were doing.

Portara (the Great Door) is a massive marble doorway that stands proudly on the islet of Palatia, connected to the northern side of the Hora by a causeway. Myth has it that Palatia was exactly where Ariadne, the Minoan princess, was abandoned by Theseus after, with her help, he killed the Minotaur in Crete.

In the 6th century BC, when Naxos was at its peak of glory, the then-ruler tyrant Lygdamis wanted to build the highest and most magnificent building. He ordered the construction of a massive temple, but when war broke out between Naxos and Samos, construction work stopped abruptly. After that, Lygdamis was overthrown in 506 BC and the temple, which was supposed to be at least 100 feet tall, was never completed.

Some researchers claim that this temple was to be built in honor of Apollo, the Greek god of light who protected music and poetry. Proof of this lies in the fact that the temple faces in the direction of Delos, Apollo's birthplace according to mythology. Others believe it would be dedicated to Dionysus, the god of wine, one of the most important deities for the locals.

During the Middle Ages, a Christian church was constructed on top of the temple's remains. Later, under Venetian rule, it was dismantled so that the marble could be used to build the Kastro fortress and other monuments and buildings. Thankfully the Portara was too heavy to be completely dismantled.

We traversed the causeway and started climbing up the hill

stopped to admire the views which were breathtaking - as the sun had started setting, everything took on a pink, golden hue. This is the Hora and the causeway, and as you can see the masses keep coming

on our right, Grotta, the edge of the Hora

and they kept coming, and snapping

you can see why though - it's magic!

Another shot of the Hora from higher up - and the full moon was rising

Good view of the port and the causeway

It's like they're all assembled for a religious event, the Sermon on the Mount, the Second Coming... I don't know

One of the fourteen-year old violin buskers was playing and this woman started dancing

You can see what's left of the rest of the temple here

the sun almost gone...


The descent/return started

We decided to have a look at the cafe/bar that sits at the bottom of the hill

 On the causeway we saw this statue, and then we moved on.


  1. Great post. Lovely reminder.

    1. You were able to leave a comment! Great. Thanks.

  2. Wow. That image of the sunset with the Temple at the fore is beautiful. Definitely on my list next summer. Thanks for posting.