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on castles and towers on Naxos Island.

The tower of Cheimarros

The tower of Cheimarros is a point of reference for Naxos, equivalent to the “Portara” (gate) of the antique Apollo Temple on the islet Palatia. It is a monument with a symbolic meaning and an impressive presence which has passed in the legend and is celebrated among others in the following local folk song:

« o kardia mou pou se tharrou, san ton pyrgo tou Cheimarrou »
( «Oh my heart, you take courage, like the Tower of Cheimarros ») 

The circular tower constitutes an exceptional sample of a well preserved defensive structure of the 4th century and pre dominates a secluded and today uninhabited landscape on the lowest hills of the Mount Zas, in the southeast part of Naxos.

The existing building stands to the impressive height of about 15 m and has a double wall. The exterior wall is built by big local marble plinths, while the interior is built by stones of different size with connectors in between.

The walls are connected at regular intervals by side-arch bricks, which stand out unrefined, exceeding the interior face. The gap between the two faces is filled up with a mixture of clay and boulder. The fine matching of the exterior stones without binder as well as the whole construction of the monument bear evidence to the high quality of the antique stone art.


The gate is located in the southern part of the tower and there is only one window at a height of 10 m from the ground that means in the second floor. The narrow loopholes feature the defensive character of the monument.
In the interior of the tower, one can distinguish the ground floor and three further floors connected by a marble staircase which built in the wall. The top of the tower does not exist today – it is estimated that the original height of the tower was 18 m – while it is not proved yet, whether the roof was flat of conic. The tower is fenced with a square wall, which’s side measures 35 m and its height 2m.

The Castle of Naxos

Choose one of the two entrances of the Castle; Trani Porta in the north side, or Paraporti, facing west, in order to begin your tour. Every road, whether ring of radiate, leads to the top of the hill. Walk in the steep alleys, marvel at the Venetian mansion houses with the coats of arms – a typical “union” of insular architecture and western elements; discover the neighborhoods that hide stories and legends; visit churches; stare out over the monument of Portara and feel some of the magic of that time that is preserved “intact” within the Castle.

The square of the Catholic Cathedral is a reference point, near which you can find the Ursulines School, the Jesuits
monastery and the Mansion of the past Trade School, where Nikos Kazantzakis studied. Today the School is
housed in the Archaeological Museum of Naxos.

Nearby you will see the Capella Kazata (church of Immaculate Conception), which was a chapel of Sanudo, as well as the castle of Crispi, the only one preserved out of the twelve castles that were built next to the palace of Sanudo. Stop at the old mansion house next to Trani Porta, where the Venetian museum is housed along with exhibitions and music nights.

Going down to Chora, in the outskirts of the Castle, you will discover the old market with the narrow whitewashed alleys, the picturesque shops and the traditional small tavernas.


 The maintenance of the tower is owed to the fine construction of the exterior wall. However, a part of the superstructure has tumbled down and extended areas of the interior wall are crumbling or have already collapsed.
From 1997 until 2001, systematic restoration activities have been undertaken, which were financed by the 2nd Community Support Framework (CSF). During this period, the building material, which had collapsed in the interior of the tower and was hiding entirely not only the floor but also the lower part of the walls, was removed. The following has been also achieved: design surveying of the two floors in the interior of the tower, photogrammetric surveying of the exterior part and topography of the monuments direct environment: the interior northwest side of the building was restored by demounting and resetting the stones, a lot of crumbling parts of the interior face were supported until their final restoration and finally, the horizontal surfaces were covered with lead plates in order to stop their erosion which was caused by the rain as well as to prevent the destruction of the monument in general. Unfortunately, the restoration works remained unfinished because they were not included in the 3rd CSF.

Naxos Tower Architecture

Most of the towers were built in Naxos in 1600 and after the Venetian Domination, for protection from depredation of the pirates but also to impose its sovereignty to the locals. Today, about 30 such towers are built on the most fertile farmland of Naxos. They have many floors and none has white exterior walls of whitewash. The towers are all in the colour of the stone and the soil of the around region so as not to stand out from the environment. The incredible style is consisted of bastions, battlements, “zemetistres” large and solid doors, which make an impregnable tower.



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