ThIs is a very interesting article on Paros! Most information is coming from VisitGreece and from Paros.gr! We hope you enjoy it!
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PAROS! A JEWEL IN THE CYCLADES
Unrivalled natural beauty, beaches with crystal clear waters, unrivalled Byzantine footpaths connecting traditional villages and breathtaking landscapes make Páros, located at the heart of the Cyclades, one of the best loved holiday destinations in Greece.
Parikía (Parikiá), the capital of Páros, is a beautiful Cycladic village with whitewashed cubic houses and impressive neoclassical mansions. A well preserved 13th century Venetian castle stands proudly on a hill at the centre of the village offering an amazing view of Parikía. In the capital you can also admire an important ecclesiastical monument, the 6th century church of Panayia Ekatontapyliani, also called Katapoliani. The name “Ekatontapylianí” means the church with 100 gates (“Ekató Pýles” in Greek), one of which is a secret one! Don’t miss the chance to visit the baptistery (4th century AD), one of the best preserved baptisteries in the Orthodox East, and the Byzantine Museum. The Parikía Byzantine Museum is housed on the ground floor of the church. Its exhibits include icons, wood-carved iconostases and other heirlooms from various monasteries and churches on the island.
The Archaeological Museum displays exhibits from the island’s monuments (such as the Sanctuary of Asklipios and Pythios Apollonas, Delion etc.), including part of the "Parian Chronicle”, a chronological table of the 3rd century BC with references to important events and personalities of antiquity.
The marble quarries at Maráthi, where the famous Parian marble used to be extracted, were in operation from the 3rd millennium BC up to the 19th century. The mining galleries along with remains of 19th century industrial buildings are still preserved and can be visited!
Meet the villages!
• Wander through beautiful traditional villages like Náoussa, a colourful village, where the ruins of a Venetian fortress stand at the entrance to its small harbour. Léfkes is located at the highest point of Páros and enjoys stunning views of the island. The village is set up in the mountains and is surrounded by a rich green landscape. It has very well preserved Cycladic and neoclassical buildings, beautiful squares and narrow marble alleys. The Museum of Aegean Folk Culture at Léfkes offers a tour of the culture of the Archipelago; discover the Aegean world through its exhibits, which include pieces related to the architecture, traditional trades and geology of the islands.
• Márpissa, founded in the 15th century, is a traditional village with a distinctive medieval character. It is located on a hill, a few kilometres away from the famous beaches of Loyarás and Písso Livádi. You can also visit the impressive Monastery of Ayios Antonios (17th century) on the hill of Kéfalos, where the ruins of a 15th century Venetian castle stand, and enjoy a wonderful view of the sea. Petaloúdes is an area of stunning beauty near the village of Psychopiana. The habitat is rich in vegetation and running water, with tall plane trees, laurels, wild olive trees, and carob trees covered in ivy that play host to the butterfly species Panaxia quadripunstaria.
What about beaches?
• Sun-drenched beaches, like Chrissí Aktí, Santa Maria and Poúnda, welcome sun-loving visitors who want to enjoy the crystal clear sea, the sun or even their favourite water sports! Every year Chrissí Aktí is the venue for the Windsurfing World Championship. On the sea bed at Alykí beach, to the southwest, you can explore the ruins of an ancient town!
• Don’t miss the opportunity to live experience an exhilarating touring all around the coast of the island by canoe or kayak! Enjoy the unusual natural landscape with impressive white rock formations on Kolymbíthres beach. The beach of Kalóyeros, surrounded by red and green clay rocks offers a really effective spa for free! Cover your body with clay and let it dry in the sun; after a while rinse yourself in the sea and your body will feel softer than ever!
Discover the island’s stunning beauty by hiking! Walk along “strátes”, the trails created by farmers to help them cross the island and transport their goods. It’s like stepping back into history. Here are two itineraries you might like to try:
• The Byzantine Léfkes-Pródromos trail, paved with marble paving stones most of the way, takes an hour to walk. It starts from the verdant village of Léfkes and crosses slopes with cultivated terraces and a small Byzantine bridge. The final destination is to the beautiful village of Pródromos with its impressive maze-like alleys.
• Starting from the village of Márpissa, with its Byzantine churches, 17th century houses and quaint windmills, walk towards Kéfalos Hill and Áyios Antónios Monastery. Going uphill along the cobblestone path, you will come across the ruins of the Venetian town of Kéfalos and the Castle. At the top, enjoy the view over the eastern part of the island and visit the Monastery of Áyios Antónios with its gold-leaf wood-carved iconostasis.
• Alternatively, you can discover the island on horseback! There are two horse-riding centres, one by the sea, at Ambelás, and one at Ystérni. Ride around the coast, along the sandy beaches or take a detour inland – a great way to see for yourself some of the most beautiful spots on the island!
THE HISTORY OF PAROS ISLAND THROUGH THE AGES
BRONZE AGE (3200 - 1100 B.C.)
Three great civilisations emerged during the Bronze Age (3,200 – 1,100 B.C.) within the geographic area which comprises modern day Greece: the Cycladic Civilisation (3,200 – 2,000 B.C.), the Minoan (or “Pre-Cretan”, 2,000 – 1,500 B.C.) and the Mycenaean (1,600 – 1,100 B.C.). Remnants of a Pre-Cycladic settlement were discovered on the “Fortress Hill” above Paroikia and significant finds dating to the same period have been discovered in other areas of the island as well (Kambos, Dryos, Koukounaries, Plastiras, Glyfa and Farangas). During the Minoan dominance of the Aegean, Paros was an important strategic and commercial centre for the Minoan state. At that time the island was primarily populated by emissaries from Crete. According to Myth the leader of the occupation force was called Alkaios, he built the first city in the location of today’s Paroikia and called it “Minoa” (Royal City). With the gradual decline of Minoan Crete the power of the mainland Mycenaean dynasty increased. The remnants of a Mycenaean Acropolis were discovered on the peak above Koukounaries (near Naoussa) as well as on the “Fortress Hill” above Paroikia.
GEOMETRIC PERIOD (1,100 – 700 B.C.)
At the turn of the 10th Century B.C. an expedition from Arcadia (Peloponnesus), led by Paro, settled on the Island and named it for their leader. Soon after, Ionian colonists joined the population (from what is now the coast of Asia Minor) and the island evolved into a significant naval power. The export of marble brought the island wealth and their agricultural activities developed as well.
ARCHAIC PERIOD (700 – 480 B.C.)
In 680 B.C. a Parian colony was established on the island of Thassos in order to exploit the gold deposits along its shores. The renowned sculpture workshops were created and the 7th century B.C. heralded the bloom of lyric poetry headed by Archilohos (the “Warrior Poet”) considered equal to Homer. To the east a new power was emerging: the Persians.
CLASSICAL PERIOD (480 – 323 B.C.)
The Parian oligarchy was called upon by the Persians and a large deployment of the island’s army joined the Persian naval assaults on various Hellenic city-states. With the defeat of the Persians (480 B.C.) the Athenian fleet, led by Themistocles, reached Paros and the island was forced to become a member of the Athenian Alliance. During this period the most famous Parian sculptors, Agorakritos and Skopas, were plying their craft. The city of Paros (in what is today Paroikia) had over 50,000 residents, wonderful homes and temples, a theatre and a stadium. By the end of the Classical Period Paros had become a member of the Macedonian Alliance until the death of Alexander the Great.
HELLENISTIC PERIOD (323 – 167 B.C.)
From the death of Alexander utill his heirs were subdued by the Roman Empire was a period of conflict and great upheavals for Paros. New kingdoms were striving for control of the Cyclades and for many years Paros fell under the rule of the Ptolemys.
ROMAN PERIOD (167 B.C. – 330 A.D.)
Paros, the other Cycladic Islands, as well as large regions of mainland Greece became extensions of the Roman countryside. Development was halted and Paros became a place of exile.
BYZANTINE PERIOD (330 – 1204 A.D.)
According to remnants of early Christian churches and gravestones Christianity reached Paros around the 4th century A.D. The first church of The Holy Virgin “Ekatondapyliani” was built at that time under the orders of Saint Helen. From the 10th century onward Paros became an epicentre for pirate raids which were catastrophic to the island.
VENETIAN OCCUPATION (1204 – 1537)
Paros was inducted to the Aegean Duchy (1207) and was passed down among the fortunes of various Venetian families. The residents of the island were reduced to serfs, working the land for their new masters, while still at the mercy of marauding pirates. Naoussa became a Pirate base and during that period the castle/fortresses of Kefalou (Marpissa), Naoussa and Paroikia were built.
TURKISH OCCUPATION (1537 – 1821)
With the siege of the island by the notorious pirate Barbarossa (1537) and the ensuing desertion of the island by its inhabitants the Venetian Occupation drew to a close. The desecrated island was ruled by the Turks from 1560 and during the Russian-Turkish Wars (1770-1777) the port of Naoussa was used as a base by the Russian fleet, from which they could control the Aegean.
Paros played an active role in the Greek Revolution (1821). The Cyclades, Peloponnesus and mainland Greece formed the nucleus of the new Hellenic state. The island was particularly hard hit by the German occupation and at the end of WWII many islanders were forced to immigrate to Piraeus and later abroad to find work. Around 1960 came the dawn of a new period of development for the island and its, now primarily tourism based, economy.