Many of you do not know that inside the Chora, the capital of Naxos, there is a beautiful Venetian Castle, which hosts the Archaeological Museum, two Cathedrals, one Catholic and one Orthodox, and the School of the Orsoline.
The castle has Italian origins, on 1207 the Venetian Marco Sanudo occupied the Cyclades and founded the duchy of the Aegean based in Naxos and dominated it until 1264, when the Turkish pirate Barbarossa defeated it in battle. Sanudo built a small fortified town to defend the island from pirates. In the area of the Castle you can access through 2 gates, the Paraporti, that is located to the south or from the Trani Porta, that is located to the north.
The castle walls were in the shape of a pentagon, with 12 towers at a distance of 10 meters each. In the center of the castle were built over time the School of the Sisters Orsoline, for Catholic girls and the Commercial School, where Catholic monks taught boys from 1627 for 300 years.
The Commercial School was transformed into the Archaeological Museum, which exhibits objects dating from the late Neolithic period to the beginning of the Christian era. To see absolutely the Cycladic collection (3000 – 2000 BC) with marble vases, marble figurines, terracotta vases, jewelry. And the Mycenaean collection (2000-1000 BC) with gold finds, fine stones, amphorae. The view from the museum balconies is absolutely beautiful. If you go to the terrace, remember to look on the ground the wonderful mosaic from a house of the 4th century BC.
Of the 12 towers, today only the Tower of Glezos (or Krispi Tower), owned by the Krispi family, the last dukes of the island, is very famous and photographed by all tourists who walk in the small narrow streets… We also invite you to visit the beautiful Venetian Museum of Rocca Barozzi, founded in 1999, once the home of several noble families, today it is a small museum that contains fabrics, furniture and other ancient objects.
The Catholic Cathedral was built in the Middle Ages, the floor is marble with the coats of arms of the most important Catholic families of Naxos. While the Orthodox Cathedral, dedicated to the saints Nicodemo and Nectario, is located slightly outside the area of the castle and includes the Epitopio Museum that stands on the ancient archaeological site. This area was the old Agora’ (square) which had 4 porches with the marble facade.
Also worth seeing is the small Folklore Museum, which opened in 1975, exhibits costumes, documents, ceramics and agricultural tools that testify to the daily life in Greece of the last 2 centuries.
Finally, the Orsoline Monastery School, built in 1739, was active until 1986 where it was purchased by the state that began to organize several cultural events that take place especially during the summer.