Naxos Portara (or Temple Of Apollo)

Location: Town

Naxos Portara: Portara of Naxos, or the Great Door, is essentially a massive marble doorway that stands proudly as the jewel of Naxos.
It lies close to the port, on the islet of Palatia.
Back in the 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Today, the strip of land has been replaced by a causeway.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 Lygdamis wanted to build the highest and most magnificent buildings of all Greece in Naxos. He ordered the construction of a massive temple but when war broke out between Naxos and Samos, the 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 architecture order would be Ionic. The structure would be 59 m long and 28 m wide, with a peristyle of 6x12 columns with double porticos.

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

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 who protected music and poets. Proof of this lies in the fact that the temple faces in the direction of Delos, which was believed to be Apollo's birthplace.
Others believe that it would be dedicated to Dionysus, the god of wine, one of the most important deities for the locals.
It has even been argued that the temple would be built in honor of Athena, the goddess of wisdom, although no strong connection between her and the island seems to had 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.

One has to agree that even though the climb to the top of the steep hill is not so easy, just the experience of viewing the sunset through the Portara is completely worth it.
Wherever you are in Naxos, your eyes cannot possibly miss Portara, the island's signature landmark and most photographed spot!

Tours and activities related to Portara

How to get there

The Portara of Naxos is located in Chora, just a 4-minute walk away from the central bus station and 10 minutes from a parking lot.

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 book your taxi online.

Car rental: Τhere’s the option of renting a car with as little as 15 euros per day and pick it up directly from the airport, port or your hotel. Using a car rental allows visitors to discover Portara and many other places of interest at their own pace.

Public transfers: The central bus station of the island is located at the port of Naxos. There are bus connections between this bus station and the most areas of the island. Consider that time schedules might change according to the season. Check the official timetables here.
Tip: Since buses don’t always stop in every scheduled stop of their itinerary, our advice to visitors is to inform the driver about their final destination, so that he makes a stop there.

Map Of Portara (or Temple Of Apollo)

Reviews of Portara (or Temple Of Apollo)

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.