Naxos Portara (or Temple Of Apollo)

Location: Town

The Portara of Naxos (or the Great Door) is a massive marble doorway that stands proudly as the jewel of Naxos.
It lies close to the port, on the islet of Palatia.
In ancient times, a strip of land connected the northern side of Naxos port to the islet of Palatia. Today, the strip of land has been replaced by a causeway.
Myth has it that the islet of Palatia was exactly where Ariadne, the Minoan princess, was abandoned by her lover Theseus after he killed Minotaur on the island of Crete.

The construction

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 a hundred feet tall, was never completed. The temple's architectural order would be Ionic. The structure would be 59 meters long and 28 meters wide, with a peristyle of 6x12 columns.

Today all that remains of the temple is the Portara. It is around 6 meters high and 3.5 meters wide and consists of separate monoliths. Each one weighs about 20 tons.

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Top Tours and activities

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    Full day historical bus tour

    Category: Island, Day Trips, Shore Excursions

    This full-day bus tour takes participants around historical points of interest of Naxos, both ancient and more modern ones. It is the perfect opportunity to learn about the island’s culture and history in a comprehensive and fun way.

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More info about Portara

The controversy

Details about the temple's original purpose remain unknown, and experts seem unable to draw a conclusion.

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.
A minority believes that the temple could be built to honor Athena, the goddess of wisdom, although no strong connection between her and the island seems to have been established.

The destruction

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 or buildings. 
Thankfully, the Portara was too heavy to be completely dismantled. Nonetheless, only three out of the four columns survive to this day.

Even though climbing the steep hill is not so easy, the experience of viewing the sunset through the photogenic Portara is totally worth it!

How to get there

The Portara of Naxos is located in Chora.

Private transfers: We recommend using an online pre-booked transfer service, which provides transfer by taxi, minibus, or private VIP car and arranging a pickup directly from the port, airport, or your hotel. Alternatively, there’s the option of arranging a pickup by a local driver directly at the following numbers: 0030 22850 25835, 0030 22850 24829, or booking your taxi online.

Car rental: There's the option of renting a car and picking it up directly from the airport, port, or your hotel. Using a rental car allows visitors to discover Portara and many other places of interest at their own pace.

Public transport: The central bus station of the island is located at the Port of Naxos. There are bus connections between Chora and most areas of the island. Consider that time schedules might change according to the season. Check the official timetables here.



2 Reviews
  • ablutsauger 14 Dec 2015
    Naxos landmark
    Portara gives Naxos a mysterious, dreamy and ancient touch. You look at it from the town, standing alone on the hill, and walk there through a stone path on which the waves crash from all sides. View from the top of the hill is magnificent, and not only Naxos town, but also the sunset and, on first place for me, waves crashing and spending itself all around.
    Small warning: be careful if you decide to walk to Portara during night, because there is no light on the road, and you may get splashed by big waves, because you cannot see them.
  • arbanlol 29 Dec 2010
    Nice evening walk
    This big marble door is the first thing you see as the ferry approaches the port of Naxos. Particularly at sunset this sight is marvelous as the sun dives into the sea at the background of this door. This sight is known as Portara, which means "big door". This is actually the only remaining from a large ancient temple that was built on a small island off the port of Naxos. Today, this island has been connected to the mainland with a small pathway and it gives a nice evening walk. A couple of statues have been placed on the way to Portara.