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  • Writer's pictureGilly Cameron Cooper


Day 2 of Naxos’ new long distance hiking trail strides over the island’s rural and cultural heart. You need to allow time for soaking up the fabulous variety of landscape and wealth of historical interest A bouldered tor with a 365-degree prospect of inland plain, mountain rim and coast, is topped by an impressive Hellenistic defence wall and the ruins 13th century Venetian citadel. Scattered over a level of acid grassland and Erica, are 8th-century BC stone grave circles encrusted with map lichen. Age-old paved paths thread through a central vale of olive groves and meadows, via the island’s former capital, tiny Byzantine chapels and silent hamlets, before rising through a wild, hidden valley to Filoti, largest village in the Cyclades, astride a limestone mountain. This action-packed heart of Naxos developed as a result of a persistent and devastating period of pirate raids when Roman and Greeks were fighting over the trade routes in the early years of the Byzantine Empire. Naxiots made Chalki their capital - it's now a charming mix of Cycladic alleyways, elegant but crumbling Neo-classical houses, and arty rejuvenation - and cultivated the interior plain of the Trageia. Photos, L-R clockwise: Venetian 'Epano Kastro' (high castle) looking over the central vale to Filoti and Mount Zas; 2. Geometric period grave circle and Mount Zas, highest point in the Cyclades; 3. Social distancing iin Filoti village; 4. Lavender blooming in April, on the 'Potters' Way' at the foot of Epano Kastro; 5. Very old olive grove on the outskirts of Chalki; 6. Decorative ceramic air vents (phialostomia) and blind arcade on Ag Apostoli chapel, Metochi. #greekislandwalking #cycladeshiking #naxosisland #Chalkinaxos #Cyclades #Naxosstrada

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