The Venetian Towers of Naxos: The island of Naxos was under Venetian Rule for three centuries, starting from 1207 when Marco Sanudo captured the island. Wherever you go in Naxos, you can not overlook the Venetian influences, especially regarding architecture. The Venetians built many castles and magnificent towers that one can spot all over the island. Most of the towers were built strategically throughout the island and meant to protect the Venetian families that lived inside from pirate raids and raise an alarm for the same reason. If an attack occurred, a large fire would be lit on the nearest tower's roof, setting off a chain reaction from one building to another to alert the islanders. Some others were used as monasteries, while the rest were summer residencies for Venetian nobles.
Here is a list of some of the towers you can admire in Naxos.
Tower of Agia
The 17th-century Agia Tower belonged to one of the richest families in Naxos, the Kokkos family. It is located in the northern part of Naxos, about six kilometers from the village of Apollonas. In Venetian times it used to be a lookout post for northwestern Naxos. It has a narrow, steep stone stairway that allows access to the second level through a hatch. There are also a few tiny windows, all above the third story. Close to it is the old monastery of the Holy Virgin where, during the feast of the Dormition, women who had taken some kind of a vow used to attend the service after walking barefoot from Apollonas along rough paths.
This tower is located in the village of Galanado, a few kilometers away from Naxos Town. It was the residential mansion of the Venetian noble family that lived there, namely the Bellonias. The tower offers a spectacular view of the whole of Naxos island. A local family still lives there today. Next to it lies the Church of Saint John, which has two altars separated by a double arch, one for the Greek Orthodox and one for the Roman Catholics of the island. That was a move on the part of the Venetians to maintain harmony between the two groups.
Frangopoulos - Della Rocca Tower
This 17th-century tower is situated in the village of Kourounochori. Crispos staged a trap and murdered Duke Karkeri there.
Tower of Glezos (Crispi)
The Tower of Glezos was constructed to protect Naxos' Kastro. It stands near the northwestern gate of the Kastro and extends in parts along its northern and western sides. It boasts four floors and is the only tower in Naxos with a round tower attached to it. The tower also constituted the home of the last Dukes. Today, it has been offered to the Archaeological Service by Mr. Petros Glezos, who plans to use it as a Byzantine museum in the future. Many of the rooms are open to the public and offer a detailed fascinating view of the lives of the Venetians.
The Bazeos tower dates back to the 17th century. It is located on the main road linking Chora with the inland leading to the coast of Agiassos. Initially, it functioned as a monastery of the Holy Cross. However, in the first decades of the 19th century, the last monks abandoned it, and became the property of the newly founded Greek State. By the end of the 19th century, however, the government sold the castle to the Bazeos family. They used the tower as a summer home and to store agricultural provisions. The last descendant of the Bazeos, Giorgos Marios Bazeos, restored it and, ever since, the building hosts the Naxos Festival every summer.
That comprises an impressive 17th-century tower located in the village of Apiranthos on the foothill of mountain Fanari. It is built on a rock near the village's entrance. It is made of a type of stone harder than marble. It features a huge arch and is nestled on the edge of a cliff. It used to be a private home belonging to the feudal barons.
This 17th Century is located in the Polihni area. Like most Venetian towers, it has an extensive view of the surrounding area. It is not really as decked up as some other towers and is pretty much just a stone fortress with a few windows high up on the tower and many slots that might have been used for guns by soldiers.
That tower is also called the Sfortsa-Kastri Tower. It lies in Apiranthos village. After the revolution of 1821, this tower was immediately reverted to the families of many of those who own these towers until this day. That happened because Apiranthos was the first area of Naxos liberated from feudal rule.
Gratsia tower is a 17th Century tower located at Halki. The building has three floors, was built by the Barozzi family, and was once disposed of as a hanging bridge. One can also admire a beautiful fountain made of marble. This region was also one of the most significant fiefs of the island.
That tower is situated in the center of Filoti. It was built in 1650 by one of the cruelest rulers of Naxos: the Barozzis. This tower served as their residence for quite some time.
The Markopolitis tower is one of the few towers not built by the Venetians but by a Greek named Markakis Politis, who fought against the Franks from 1770 to 1802.
That 17th-century tower lies near the village of Melanes. It used to be a towering resort of the Jesuit monks. The tower is quite well-preserved.
These are just a few of the many towers in Naxos. Additional towers include the Kokkos Tower and the Palaiologos Tower. Each of these structures has a story to tell and offers a rich, historical, and authentic experience.