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    paros-1

General Info

Located at the heart of Cyclades, Paros, with its unique natural beauty, beaches of crystal clear waters and enchanting Byzantine footpaths connecting traditional villages and breathtaking landscapes is one of the most beloved holiday destinations in Greece. Paros is characterized by its charming villages in the traditional Cycladic style, among them Parikia (the main one), Lefkes and Marpissa. Naoussa, an old fishing village that has turned into a cosmopolitan top holiday destination, is very famous for its Venetian port. Paros has an impressive amount of old churches, chapels and monasteries, windmills, and wherever the visitor goes, they will stumble across historical remains, some of which have great importance for Greece.

History

The island has been inhabited since the Early Cycladic period, (3200-2700 B.C.). In ancient times Paros used to be called Minoa, because its first settlers came from Crete, the kingdom of mighty King Minos. Later it was occupied by Arcadians, led by Parios, son of Parrasios, who gave the island its definitive name. After the Arcadians, Paros was inhabited by Ionians. During their time the island flourished and even founded a colony on an island in the north of Aegean sea. Paros was famed in the ancient world for the lyrical poet Archilochus, the first in history to accentuate the personal element rather than the heroic, which was the norm at that time. The island was also famed for its marble, which was of excellent quality, white and very fine- grained, semi-transparent, and came from quarries called «lichnites». Following the Persian wars, Paros island was successively occupied by the Ptolemies, Mithridates and the Romans. After it became a part of the Byzantine Empire It converted to Christianity and many churches and monasteries were built there - the most famous among them being the church of Panagia Ekatontapiliani (Our Lady of the Hundred Gates) in Parikia. In 1207 Paros island was conquered by the Venetians and became a part of the Duchy of Naxos. After the Turkish rule and following the Greek War of Independence of 1821, Paros was incorporated into the Greek State along with the rest of the Cyclades.

Must see

Parikia, the capital of Paros and the island's main port, with its traditional Greek architecture, the marvelous beaches and the churches, is a popular destination and the commercial and cultural center of the island. Naoussa, on the south of the island, is a picturesque fishing town with a vibrant nightlife with excellent taverns, small eateries, bars and nightclubs surrounding the port area. The Marathi Marble Quarries have long since been abandoned , but in Roman times they were a rich source of marble, labored over by 150,000 slaves. Spelunking enthusiasts will appreciate exploring the deep caverns opened by the miners. The Church of Panagia Ekatontapilliani, one of the best-preserved and earliest Christian churches in Greece, was built around A.D. 300 by Saint Helen. It houses a Byzantine museum with pieces from many periods of Paros' history. Τhe Monastery of Longovarda, the largest on the island, founded in 1638, is famous for its architecture, its icons and frescoes and, of course, its library which hosts rare manuscripts of great historical value. Frankish Castle, at the highest point of Parikia, offers visitors a breathtaking view of the surrounding site. It was built in the 1200s by Venetians, with materials from the ancient Temple of Demeter. The church of Agios Ioannis Detis, built in the 17th century, on a rocky coast in the bay of Naoussa, has a magnificent view of the surrounding bay and town, and is an ideal spot for contemplation.

Things to do

During summer months the Valley of the Butterflies, south of Parikia, fills with butterflies looking for mates. Travelers can join a tour excursion to view them up close. Each year, on August 23, Naoussa celebrates and re-enacts the victory over the Turkish pirate Barbarossa, with the use of more than a hundred traditional small and mid-size boats. Do not miss the unique opportunity to experience an amazing tour all around the coast of the island by canoe or kayak and enjoy the beautiful natural landscape with the impressive white rock formations above Kolymbíthres beach. The beach of Kalóyeros, surrounded by red and green clay rocks offers a really refreshing and free spa: Cover your body with clay and then let it dry in the summer sun; after a while rinse yourself in the sea and your skin will feel softer than ever. Also grab the opportunity to discover the island’s stunning beauty by hiking. Walk along “strátes”, the trails created by farmers to cross the island and transport their goods. You should also discover Paros’ magic on horseback. Ride around the coast, along the sandy beaches or take a tour inland – this is an unforgettable way to see with your own eyes - and at a relaxed pace - the most beautiful spots on the island. Finally, from Pounda Beach take a short ferry trip to the neighboring island of Antiparos, internationally famous because of the Hollywood celebrities who own holiday mansions there.

Beaches and nature

The world famous beaches in Paros, from small quiet coves to long sandy ones, will allure you and give you endless hours full of of Greek relaxation and fun. They have crystal waters and a relaxing atmosphere; some of them are organized and adjacent to luxuryseafront hotels, fine restaurants and beach bars, while others are totally secluded and tranquil. Golden Beach is one of the most popular. It has warm, clear waters and powdery soft sand. Every year it is the venue for the Windsurfing World Championship. On the seabed at Alykí beach, to the southwest, you can amuse yourself by exploring the ruins of an ancient town. Close to the port town of Parikia, Pounda Beach is another very popular beach thanks to the beach bars and its beautiful, natural environment. The embracing countryside with its magnificent rock formations, gentle, terraced hills and endless olive groves, vineyards and fruit trees is quite overwhelming. In the spring, the island is awash in lush vegetation, with flowers growing almost everywhere.

Need to know (practical info)

The most usual way to reach Paros is to fly to Athens, Santorini or Mykonos and then continue your trip by ferry. Parikia, the capital, is one of the main harbours of the Cyclades with frequent connections to almost all close-by islands. It is approx. 2½ hours (by high-speed boat) or 4 hours (normal ferry) distance from Piraeus. The island’s infrastructure is excellent, the main road around it being about 72 km long and well sign-posted, which makes it ideal for exploring the island by vehicle. There are plenty of stylish little shops offering Greek souvenirs, jewellery and other shopping items.

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