Area of island: 186 sq. km/72 sq. miChief place: Páros (Parikía)Páros, lying some 8km/5mi west of Náxos, is occupied by a range of hills of gently rounded contours, rising to 771m/2530ft in Mt Profítis Ilías (rewarding climb, with guide; magnificent panoramic views). Three bays cut deep inland - in the west the sheltered Parikía Bay, with the island's capital; in the north an even more sheltered bay with the little town of Naoúsa (pop.
1400), which in Roman times was the island's main port for the shipment of the island's Lychnites marble; and in the east the shallow Mármare Bay. The whole island is covered with a layer of coarse-grained crystalline limestone, in which lie rich beds of pure white marble.The island's considerable prosperity has depended since ancient times on agriculture, favored by fertile soil and an abundance of water, and on the working of marble, which is still quarried on a small scale. In recent years the rapid development of the tourist trade has brought changes in the island's landscape, economy and social structure.Excavations on the islet of Saliangos, which was once joined to Páros, have yielded evidence of settlement in the late Neolithic period (fifth-fourth millennium B.C.).The island, which has preserved its ancient name, was already well populated in the age of the Cycladic culture (third millennium B.C.). In the first millennium B.C. Ionian Greeks settled on Paros and made it a considerable sea power, minting its own coins, and in the seventh century B.C. Paros founded colonies on Thasos and in Thrace. In the sixth and fifth centuries Paros was celebrated for its school of sculptors. It was a member of the first Attic maritime league, and its unusually large contributions to the league (30 talents in 425 B.C.) are evidence of its wealth in the fifth century B.C.In Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine times Paros was of no importance. In the ninth century A.D. it was depopulated as a result of raids by Arab pirates who ravaged and plundered the island. From 1207 to 1389 it belonged to the duchy of Náxos, and thereafter was ruled by various dynasts until its conquest by the Turks in 1537. It was reunited with Greece in 1832, after the establishment of the new Greek kingdom.Regular flights from Athens, several times daily; also from Iráklion (Crete) and Rhodes.Regular boat service from and to Athens (Piraeus), several times daily (cars carried). Local connections, daily, with the neighboring islands of Náxos, Ios, Santorin, Syros and Antíparos.
Paros Town, Greece
The chief town on the island of Páros is also named Páros or Parikía. It lies on the west coast, on the site of the ancient capital. The central feature of the town was (and is) a 15m/50ft high gneiss crag on the southeast side of the bay, now occupied by the Kástro, a ruined Frankish castle of about 1260, with stonework from an ancient Ionic temple, the Hekatompedon (the "hundred-footer") built into its walls. The tower incorporates a circular building of the fourth century B.C., walled in during the Frankish period, part of which serves as the apse of the castle chapel. To the west, on the highest point of the Kástro, are the foundations of an unfinished temple of about 530 B.C., below which are remains of prehistoric houses (third millennium B.C.). The marble wall of the temple was incorporated in the church of Ayios Konstantínos.In ancient times there was another harbor on the east side of the hill, some remains of whichcan be seen under water.On the hills outside the ancient city, which covered a larger area than the modern town (some sections of the walls brought to light by excavation), were a number of other temples.
At the west end of the modern lower town of Parikía stands the Cathedral, the Ekatontapylianí ("hundred- gated") church, which was built in three stages between the fifth and seventh centuries. The name is a corruption of Katapolianí ("in the lower town"). The principal church (built in the second phase, about 600, re-using ancient stones) is a two-story domed cruciform church with a barrel-vaulted gallery for women (the oldest part, belonging to a fifth century basilica). The high altar is borne on two Doric column drums and has egg-and-dart molding of the sixth century B.C. In the semicircular apse are three tiers of stone benches for the clergy, with the bishop's throne in the middle. To the right is the baptistery (a domed basilica of the seventh century), with a cruciform font set into the floor.To the left of the church can be seen a number of Hellenistic sarcophagi, re-used in Byzantine times.
Adjoining the cathedral is the Museum, with inscriptions (including one referring to the poet Archilochos, who lived on Paros in the seventh century B.C.), funerary reliefs, small works of sculpture, Cycladic idols and a fragment (relating to the years 336-229 B.C.) of the "Marmor Parium", a record of events in Greek history, which was found here in 1627. The major part of it is in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.To the east, beyond the rear wall of the cathedral, is a well-preserved Hellenistic tomb.
Opening hours: Apr 1 to Oct 31: 8am-7:30pm
Nov 1 to Mar 31: 8:30am-3pm
Nov 1 to Mar 31: 8:30am-3pm
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Greek National Day (Mar 25), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Day after Christmas, St Stephen's Day, Boxing Day (Dec 26), Easter - Christian
Entrance fee: Adult Admission Cost, Concession or reduced rate Discount, Students from EU Free, Child 18 & under Free
Useful tips: Admission is free on Sundays between November and March and the first Sunday of every month except July.
Cultural Heritage of Páros Walking Tour
Follow stone and marble paths past impeccably white-washed churches, secluded monasteries and through tiny villages resembling a flock of perched seagulls from a distance as you explore a civilization that reaches back to 4,000 BC.Thanks to a dense network of footpaths (monopatia), or mule-tracks and wider paths (kalderimia) which were built thousands of years ago to allow the local inhabitants to graze their livestock, tend to their fields, pay homage to their patron saints on religious holidays and safely commute from one village to the other, regardless of weather conditions, the Greek countryside is one of the loveliest hiking areas of Europe.Venturing upon the road less traveled visitors will be rewarded by stunning vistas and the various marks of a civilization that spans over 6000 years of human history.
Northwest of the town of Páros, near the sea and on a terrace below a hill with windmills, is the Doric Asklepieion (fourth century B.C.), with some remains of walls and a fountain basin (sixth century B.C.). A building laid out around a square courtyard, with a central altar, dates from a later period. Beyond this is the new fountain basin. On the terrace above the Asklepieion stood the Pythion, the sanctuary of Apollo Pythios and of Asklepios, who was associated with him. The square building on the lower level was used for the treatment of those who came to seek healing at this sanctuary.
Sanctuary of Aphrodite
On Mt Kounados, to the east of the town of Páros, was the sacred precinct of Aphrodite, with a rock-cut altar in the center. 40m/130ft lower down, on the south side of the hill, is the Cave of Eileithyia, which contains a spring.
On the highest point (the southwesterly peak; view of the semicircle of the Cyclades) of Mt Taxiarkhis, beyond Parikía Bay in the northwest of Paros (about 45minutes from Páros town), was the walled sanctuary of the three Delian divinities Apollo, Leto and Artemis, the Delion.
At Tris Ekklisies, 1.5km/1mi east of Parikía, on the site of the Heroon of Archilochos, the foundations of an aisled basilica of the A.D. seventh century have been brought to light.
A little way north of the monastery of Áyios Minás in the Maráthi valley (one hour northeast of Parikía) are the quarries which produced the famous Parian marble, worked from the time of the Cycladic culture (third-second millennium B.C.; vases, idols) to the A.D. 15th century. The marble, called Lychnites ("lamp-lit") because it was hewn in underground shafts, was purer and more translucent (up to a thickness of 3.5mm, or just under one-seventh of an inch) than all other types of marble, and was highly prized in antiquity, being used on Delos, at Epidauros and Delphi and in Imperial Rome. The old mine shafts have been preserved. On the west side is the so-called Cave of Pan, one of the entrances to the quarry face, with a figure of a nymph carved from the rock.
Southwest of Páros, separated from it by a channel varying in width between 1km/.75mi and 8km/5mi, is the island of Antíparos (area 46 sq. km/18 sq. mi; alt. 299m/981ft), ancient Oliaros. The chief place, also called Antíparos, clusters round a Venetian castle. There is a beautiful stalactitic cave on the island.Off the northern tip of Antíparos are two islets of volcanic origin, Diplo and Kavoura.Some 500m/550yd southwest of Antíparos lies the little island of Despotiki (area 8 sq. km/3 sq. mi), with a sheltered harbor. Farther to the southwest is the islet of Strongylí.
St John Cave (St John of the Cave Chapel)
Among the principal attractions of Antiparos is the famous cave of stalactites on Agios Ioannis Hill. There is a chapel to St John of the Cave (Ayios Ioannis Spiliotis) at the mouth of the cavern.
The small islet of Despotiko lies near Antiparos. Archeological excavations have uncovered traces of tombs of the Early Cycladic period.
The small islet of Saliangos, near Antiparos, has the ruins of a Neolithic settlement.
Naoussa & Kolimbithres
Naoussa is a pretty village in the Cyclades, with white-washed houses, narrow paved alleys, arches and tiny chapels. It also has a range of excellent beaches and attracts many visitors each summer.One of the most popular beaches near Naoussa is Kolimbithres, where huge rocks eroded into strange shapes.
Marpissa is an attractive large village with a Venetian castle and beautiful churches.