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Temples and Giants

I thoroughly enjoyed Naxos, the next island we visited. It was larger, more fertile, and less touristy than either Santorini or Mykonos, and had a very relaxed atmosphere. We caught a SeaCat ferry there from Santorini, and arrived in the little harbour in Chora, the main town on Naxos. The first sight we saw on arrival was the ruined entrance to the 6thC BC Temple of Apollo, which stood on a headland overlooking the harbour. This view has become the iconic symbol of Naxos, and was available on fridge magnets all over the town.

The Portara of the Temple of Apollo on Naxos

The Portara of the Temple of Apollo on Naxos

Naxos was famous in antiquity for its quarries of extremely white marble, and the skill of its sculptors. Many of the best pieces were destined for the sacred island of Delos, and we saw the remains of some of them later in the trip. What I found interesting on Naxos, however, were the rejects – colossal statues that were abandoned, part-finished, when the ancient sculptors came across a flaw in the marble that rendered the statue useless.

Giant "kouros" statue on Naxos

Giant “kouros” statue on Naxos

Above is the head of a 10m tall statue, possibly of a god, which was abandoned in its quarry some time in the 6th century BC. It apparently broke whilst it was being prepared for transport – which in itself would have been a huge undertaking since the quarry was half way up a steep mountainside!  You can just imagine the frustration and despair of the sculptors, as months of work was rendered useless in a moment.