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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, the Venetian influence over it simply cannot be missed. This holds true especially for the architecture that one can see in Naxos. The Venetians built many castles and magnificent towers that one can spot across the entire island. Most of these towers had a special purpose, to protect the Venetian families that usually lived inside from raids by pirates and to raise an alarm for the same.
These towers were built strategically throughout the island. If there was an attack, a large fire would be lit on the nearest tower's roof, setting off a chain reaction from tower to tower alerting the islanders. Some others were used as monasteries while the rest were simple summer homes for Venetian nobles. Below is a list of some of the towers that you can see in Naxos.
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, but all above the third storey. Close to it is the old monastery of the Holy Virgin where during the feast of the Dormition, women who had taken some sort 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. From the tower, you can see a spectacular view of the whole of Naxos island. A local family still lives in the tower today. Next to this tower is the Church of St. John which has two altars separated by a double arch, one for the Greek Orthodox and one for the Roman Catholics of the island. This was a move on the part of the Venetians to maintain harmony between the two.
This 17th Century tower is found close to the village of Melanes in Kournochori. Krispos staged a trap and murdered Duke Karkeri here.
The Tower of Glezos was built to protect the Kastro of Naxos. It stands near the northwestern gate of the Kastro and extends in parts along its northern and western sides. It has four floors and is the only tower in Naxos that has a round tower attached to it. This tower also played home to the last Dukes. Today the tower has been given to the Archaeological Service by Mr. Petros Glezos which 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.
This tower of Heimarros is located in Filoti, a scenic village of Naxos. It is about 15 meters tall and was built during the Hellenistic Period in the 4th-3rd Centuries. It looks down on Kalantos Bay and out to the sea and was originally built to warn people if they were going to be attacked by pirates. It is circular in shape and is made of local marble. The tower has four floors and there are two churches adjacent to it. Though it seems to be quite well preserved externally, a large part of it from the inside has either already collapsed or is about to even though the work seems to be of excellent quality.
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 of the monks abandoned it and it 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, recently restored the house and organizes the Naxos Festival every summer.
It is an impressive 17th Century tower located in the village of Apiranthos on the foothill of the mountain Fanari. It is built on a rock near the village entrance. It is made of a harder stone than marble. It is supported by a huge arch and is seated on the edge of a cliff. It used to be a private home belonging to the feudal barons and a very sturdily built one at that.
This 17th Century is located in the Polihni area. Like most other Venetian towers, it has an advantageous 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 a number of slots that might have been used for guns by soldiers.
This tower also called the Sfortsa-Kastri Tower is located at the Apiranthos village. After the revolution of 1821, this tower was immediately reverted to the families many of those that own these towers till date. This happened because Apiranthos was the first area of Naxos to be liberated from the feudal rule.
This is a 17th Century tower located at Halki. It has three floors and was built by the Barotsi family and once disposed of a hanging bridge. One can also see a beautiful fountain made of marble here. This region was also one of the most important fiefs of the island.
This tower is located in the center of the village of Filoti. It was built in 1650 by one of the most important and cruelest rulers of Naxos: the Barotsis. This tower served as their residence for quite some time.
This is one of the few towers that was not built by the Venetians. It was built by Markakis Politis who fought against the Franks from 1770 to 1802.
This 17th Century tower is found 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 that are located in Naxos. Some of the other towers include the Aperanthou Tower, the Sommaripa Tower, and the Bardani Tower. Each of these towers has a story to tell and offers a rich, historic, authentic experience.