The "Portara" is arguably the most recognisable sight on the island of Naxos.
This large marble gate (the only remaining part of a temple dedicated to Apollo, and built in the 6th Century BC) stands on a small island (which is connected to the main island) by the ferry port in Naxos Town.
As you approach the island by ferry, it is likely to be the first thing that you recognise.
The island upon which the Portara sits is very rocky and it is quite a steep climb up to the top. Thankfully, steps up to the Portara have been built to accommodate the hordes of tourists that venture up to see it.
If you stand "behind" the Portara (ie closest to the sea and furthest from the town), the Portara acts like a photo frame framing the view of Naxos Town.
INTERIOR OF THE ISLAND
The west coast of Naxos, where Naxos Town and the beautiful beaches are located, is only the tip of the iceberg. Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades Islands and has a lot to offer in its mountainous interior as well.
By far the best way to visit the interior of the island is to rent a car. Then take a scenic loop beginning in Naxos Town and heading out southeast to Filoti, then northeast to Apirathos and Apollon, and finally head back to Naxos Town along the highway that follows the north coast.
PANAGIA DROSIANI NAXOS
This Early Christian church lies near the village of Moni.
The interior wall surfaces have wall paintings of various phases; from the end of the 6th and the beginning of the 7th centuries.
Apirathos is known as the White City because nearly everything there is built from white marble from the island's famous quarries. Even the gravel on Naxos is crushed white marble! Apirathos is on a hill and has narrow winding paths that are fun to navigate. The town was colonised in the 17th and 18th centuries by Crtean refugees trying to get away from Turkish oppression. It really is a wonderful mountain village with marble paved climbing streets which are so easy to get lost in, and 14th century towers which were built by the Venetian Crispi family.
The best way to see more of the island is to hire a car and head off into the Tragaia valley with its little towns and wonderful views. Chalki is a pictureque little place with Ventetian. architecture. It is worth a short stop to wander through the little streets. In the centre is the old Byzantine Fragopoulis tower.
Getting to Naxos Island
Various shipping lines operate ferries to Naxos and they can and do change from summer to summer. The travel time is between six and eight hours. Boats leave from two ports, the well known Piraeus and the lesser known Rafina which is, in fact, closer to the new airport. There is also a catamaran - the High Speed - which, in theory, cuts the sailing time to Naxos to about three and a half hours.
Under normal circumstances, there is at least one ferry every morning leaving Piraeus at 8 am. arriving at Naxos between 2 pm and 3pm. There is then, usually, one or two in the evening departing between 5 pm and 8 pm and arriving, therefore, between 11 pm and 2 am. This gives a good general guide to times but should never be taken on trust - always try to check and double check these times.
Small planes fly to and from Naxos operated by Olympic Airways. At peak times there should be two flights a day, leaving Athens at about 9 am and 4.30 pm.
For the holidaymakers who can drag themselves away from the glorious beaches, Naxos provides a wealth of ancient Greek remains as well as plenty of Byzantine and Venetian history. The islanda??s capital, also called Naxos, has a Venetian fortress as well as an ancient Greek temple to Apollo.
This temple is usually the first thing that a tourist sees when visiting Naxos by ferry because it stands proudly on the tip of the island, marking the way into the busy ferry port. The temple dates back to 522 BC but its ruinous appearance is not because much of it has been lost to the passage of time, but rather because the ancients never finished building it.
Naxos town is very picturesque port with a maze of whitewashed streets and alleyways, designed with the frequent invasions from Aegean pirates in mind. Its typically Cycladic architecture blends with the Venetian and every turning invites the visitor to explore.
With such romantic charm and mystique, it is little wonder that Naxos has long been popular with writers and artists. Lord Byron visited in his youth and never forgot the experience, referring to it in his writings as the a??Dream Islanda?? and often saying that he would love to return some day.
Naxos has 41 villages and most are worth exploring. They are found in the green fertile, valleys that are sandwiched between the rugged, arid mountains. Many of these are over 2000 feet high and the highest, Mount Zeus is 3,200 feet.
Naxos enjoys the economic rewards of being a tourist island but it does not depend on them for its prosperity. A great deal of farming takes place in its rich valleys and the cultivation of lemons is especially successful. In addition to lemons, Naxos produces cherries, pomegranates and other fresh fruit. It also produces olives, nuts and potatoes whilst its grapes make some of the best of Greek wines.
Greek food is a wonderful mix of oriental and European dishes, cooked using different methods, from frying to broiling to boiling. Food in Greece is both easy to make, as the following recipes show, and delightful. Much of Greek food is seasonal and a lot of it is prepared during different times of the year, mainly around dates of religious events, such as Easter, Christmas or New Years eve.
KLEFTIKO ( Lamb in ceramic pot baked in wood-fired oven)
3-4 kg lamb, cut into large pieces
1 kg, potatoes peeled and quartered.
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper.
2 tsp dried oregano (Greek rigani is best)*
8 fresh bay leaves
1/2 cup oil
Place lamb and potatoes into two baking trays. Mix together salt, pepper and oregano in a small bowl, sprinkle over lamb and potatoes and toss well, rubbing mixture into the meat. Add bay leaves and insert garlic by making small holes on the meat.Pour in water and oil. Cover with foil and bake in the oven at 150°-160° for two hours.
If you’re lucky enough to have a wood-fired oven like we do in Avali Taverna in Agios Prokopios, bake it for 3-4 hours.
The recipe is offered by Avali 's Chef in Agios Prokopios Naxos. (www.avali.gr)
The minced beef is lightly fried with garlic and onions, chopped tomatoes and salt and pepper. I add some wine for added flavour. The potatoes are thinly sliced and deep fired and then strained. The aubergenes are also thinly sliced, salted, then deep fried and strained. Layer the potatoe in large baking tin, then add the meat mixture on top. Layer the aubergines on top of the meat. The bechamell is made with flour, milk, egg and butter. The sauce goes on top of aubergenes, then kefalotiri is sprinkled on the top to give a nice crispy brown topping to the moussaka.
The recipe is offered by famous Vassilis Taverna in the old Market Street of Naxos. (www.naxosrestaurant.gr)
In Greek: τζατζίκι, pronounced dza-DZEE-kee
Tzatziki is traditionally served as an appetizer and can be left on the table as an accompaniment to foods throughout the meal. The key to great tzatziki is the thick creamy texture that allows it to be eaten alone, as a dip, as a spread, and as a condiment.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
16 ounces (2 cups) of thick Greek yogurt
4 to 10 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup of diced or grated cucumber (Kirby or "English")
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 teaspoons of lemon juice
Prepare all ingredients in advance. Combine oil and lemon juice in a medium mixing bowl. Fold the yogurt in slowly, making sure it mixes completely with the oil. Add the garlic, according to taste, and the cucumber. Stir until evenly distributed. Garnish with a bit of green and serve well chilled.
Yield: about 2 1/2 cups
Add mint or dill: Slight variations include 1-2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh dill and/or fresh mint. Tasty additions!
Some recipes for this dish do not call for cinnamon in the meat sauce, but in this classic version, put it in. It's a signature taste that has made pastitsio one of the most well-known and loved Greek dishes. This recipe also calls for a thick bechamel sauce.
Traditionally, Greek macaroni no. 2 pasta is used but ziti or other tubular pasta, long or short, can be substituted.
Prep Time: 1 hour, 15 minutesCook
Time: 1 hour Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds of tubular pasta (long macaroni, ziti, penne, ziti #2 etc.)
1 cup of olive oil
1-2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 1/4 cup of chopped onions
1 1/2 pounds of ground beef
2 1/2 cups of peeled, chopped plum tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
6 whole cloves
20 or more ground peppercorns (to taste)
1 1/4 cups of grated kefalotyri cheese (or pecorino)
1/2 cup of breadcrumbs
bechamel sauce with cheese or basic bechamel
Make the Meat Sauce
Saute the onions until translucent in 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed frying pan. Add meat and continue to stir until lightly brown. Add the tomatoes, cinnamon, cloves, garlic, salt, and pepper and stir well to combine. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid has been absorbed, about 30-35 minutes. This is very important - the meat mixture should be as dry as possible without sticking to the bottom of the pan. Set meat mixture aside, uncovered, and allow to cool.
Preheat oven to 350F (160C). Lightly grease a baking or roasting pan approximately 11 X 14 X 3 inches high.
Prepare the Pasta
While the meat is simmering, prepare the pasta. Cook until slightly underdone, drain, toss with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to prevent sticking, and set aside.
Make the bechamel sauce with cheese or 6 cups of basic bechamel.
Spread the breadcrumbs evenly on the bottom of an 11x15x3-inch baking pan. Use 1/2 the pasta for the first layer and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the grated cheese. Remove cloves from the sauce, add the meat sauce evenly over the pasta, and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the grated cheese. Add the remaining pasta on top. Carefully pour the bechamel over the top and use a spatula to spread evenly.
Bake at 350F (160C) for 30 minutes, then sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of grated cheese on top, and continue to bake for another 15 to 30 minutes until the sauce rises and turns golden brown.
Remove pan from oven and allow to cool before serving (Pastitsio is served warm, not hot).
Yield: serves 6-8
Notes: This dish can be prepared the day before, all the way to the bechamel sauce, refrigerated overnight, and cooked the next day after adding the sauce.
In Greek: ντολμαδάκια γιαλαντζί, pronounce dohl-mah-THAHK-yah yah-lahnd-ZEE
Throughout the Middle East and southern Europe, this dish is a favorite. Here in vineyard country, these are often made with the very youngest and tenderest (and smallest) freshly picked leaves - which you can do as well if you have access to vines.
This is the same stuffing I use for stuffed vegetables with rice, so if you don't want to make 100 pieces, refrigerate the extra filling it and use it for another meal.
Cook Time: 60 minutesIngredients:
2 jars of grape leaves in brine (16 oz. jars or about 120-150 leaves)
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 spring onion, finely chopped
1 pound of zucchini, grated
1/2 eggplant, peeled and grated
2 medium carrots, grated
4 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 1/2 cups of long grain rice
2 teaspoons of sea salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
1 bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
juice of 3 lemons
Blanch the Grape Leaves
Bring 8 cups of water to a boil in a large pot, add juice of 1/2 lemon and 1 teaspoon of salt. Carefully unroll the leaves (do not separate). Turn off the heat and place leaves in the hot water for 3 minutes. Remove leaves and place them in a bowl and cover with cold water. When cooled, drain in a colander. It is not unusual for many of the outer leaves in the jar or can to be damaged, or to tear while using. Set these aside to use later in the recipe.
Make the Filling
In a large saucepan, heat 1/2 cup of olive oil and saute the onion for about 2-3 minutes. Add grated zucchini, eggplant, and carrots, and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Add the tomato pulp and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for 15 minutes, and put in a bowl. Add the rice, parsley, remaining salt, and pepper, and mix well with a spoon until blended.
Gently separate one leaf and place it shiny side down on a work surface. Cut off the stem and discard. Place one teaspoon of the filling on the leaf at the point where the stem joined the leaf. Fold up the bottom of the leaf over the filling, then each side inward in parallel folds, and roll up the leaf. Roll should be firm, not tight, as the filling will expand during cooking. Repeat until all the filling has been used.
Cooking the Dolmathakia
Because it's easy for the leaves to burn while the filling cooks, put a plate or wooden souvlaki skewers in the bottom of a heavy-bottomed pot (see tip below). The plate should fit as closely as possible to the sides. If there are unused leaves, or leaves that were torn and not used during the filling process, put them on the plate or on top of the skewers. Place the dolmathakia on top, packing them closely together (not squashed), seam side down, so they don't unroll during cooking. Layer them until all are in the pot (2-3 layers is best, but no more than 4 layers). Place several unused leaves over the top. Take another plate and place it upside down on top of the dolmathakia, with something to weight it down (I use a second plate). Add 2 cups of water to the pot and cover. Bring the water to a gentle boil, add the remaining lemon juice, reduce heat to low and simmer for approximately 50-70 minutes. Check to see if done. If the rice has cooked, they are done. If not, continue cooking for another 10 minutes and check again. Cooking time depends both on the type of pot used and the particular stovetop element.
If preferred, use a pressure cooker. No plates needed, but do use the skewers in the bottom. Pack the dolmathakia into the pressure cooker, add the 2 cups of water, close and cook for 15-20 minutes at the first pressure mark.
Yield: about 100 pieces
Individual servings of dolmathakia are 4-5 pieces on small plates as an appetizer, however they can also be used as a side or main dish. Serve dolmathakia warm or at room temperature with
avgolemono (egg and lemon sauce), lemon wedges, tzatziki, or unflavored yogurt on the side.
These will keep well in the refrigerator for about 5 days. Return to room temperature before serving. Drizzle olive oil on top and cover to store. They can also be frozen. If you do freeze, reheat in the microwave or by steaming and serve warm. Don't just thaw and eat.
If you don't have a plate that fits or skewers, line the bottom of the pan with unused or torn leaves.
Reddened Rooster Stew with Potatoes
In Greek: κόκορας κοκκινιστός, pronounced KOH-koh-rahs koh-kee-nee-STOHS
In this recipe, the meat is browned (or "reddened" in Greek) before stewing. The classic combination of cloves and cinnamon give this a unique Greek flavor.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
3 1/2 - 4 1/2 pound rooster, cut in pieces
1 cup of olive oil
2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
1/2 cup of red wine
1/2 cup of chopped tomatoes
1/2 tablespoon of tomato paste
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 medium onions, minced
10-12 pearl onions, whole
2 1/4 pounds of potatoes, peeled, cut in large chunks
2-3 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1 small stick of cinnamon
8-10 cups of water
In a skillet, heat the oil over high heat and brown the meat quickly. Transfer the meat to a stew pot, and in the remaining oil, saute the pearl onions until slightly soft. Set the pearl onions aside, and in the same oil, saute the minced garlic and onions. When the onions soften, add chopped tomatoes. Dissolve the tomato paste in the wine and add to the pan. Stir well to blend and cook at boiling for 5-7 minutes.
Add the sauce to the stew pot on top of the meat, and turn heat to high. Stir in salt, pepper, bay leaf, and cinnamon stick. Add 1 cup of the water and bring to a boil. Stir in remaining water slowly. When full boil resumes, cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook for 30 minutes. Add pearl onions, and cook for 30 minutes more. Add potatoes and cook for the final 30 minutes. Test meat for doneness.
Yield: serves 4-5
Easter on Naxos
Easter (Greek: Πάσχα Paskha) is the most important annual religious feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to Christian scripture, Jesus was resurrected from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. Some Christians celebrate this resurrection on Easter Day or Easter Sunday (also Resurrection Day or Resurrection Sunday), two days after Good Friday and three days after Maundy Thursday.Easter also refers to the season of the church year called Eastertide or the Easter Season. Traditionally the Easter Season lasted for the forty days from Easter Day until Ascension Day but now officially lasts for the fifty days until Pentecost. The first week of the Easter Season is known as Easter Week or the Octave of Easter. Easter also marks the end of Lent, a season of fasting, prayer, and penance.
MOST POPULAR RESTAURANTS ON NAXOS
Agios Prokopios Taverna Anesis - Spiros
one of the oldest taverna's in Agios Prokopios keeps on serving the most delicious, fresh food at low rates.
Restaurant Anesis Spiros
Restaurant Anesis Spiros menu offers traditional recipes, a variety of seafood flown in fresh, rich selection of cold and warm food appetizers, salads, pasta dishes as well as meat dishes and unique daily culinary offerings crafted with fresh, locaingredients. Don't miss pork on the grill every Saturday as well as the famous lobster pasta. You may also enjoy fresh calamares, shrimps and fresh fish all on the grill. With a wide variety of Greek food and fresh fish every day.
It worths every bite. Delicious food and offers the traditional Naxian cuisine. Child friendly.
To Saint Prokopios, 10m near to the local church, on the rocks of the seaside. The most romantic and magic view of the Aegean sea will make you feel like soaling into the blue and clear water. A feeling that will remind you the most romantic dreams of the sea you have ever seen.
Taverna Vasilis opened in 1951 with 5 tables on an earthen floor. The first tourists to arrive in Naxos ate traditional Greek food, and drank Mr. Vasilis homemade wine. Today his son, daughter-in- law and their children continue in his tradition, by offering good quality homemade Greek food and authentic local wine.
Serving the best Mediterranean Greek Seafood in Naxos.We pride ourserlves on our authentic Greek recipes and the individual touches brought to every dish. Our wine has been chosen to compliment the cuisine.
Located at Old Market Street, Naxos Island, P.C. 84300, Greece.
The Taverna is open every day.We invite you to dine. JOIN US