Naxos is the largest island (429 km2 (166 sq mi)) in theCyclades island group in the Aegean. It was the centre of archaic Cycladic culture.
The island comprises the two municipalities of Naxos andDrymalia. The largest town and capital of the island is Chora or Naxos City, with 6,533 inhabitants (2001 census). The main villages are Filoti, Apiranthos, Vivlos, Agios Arsenios, Koronos and Glinado.
Naxos is a popular tourist destination, with several ruins. It has a number of beaches, such as those at Agia Anna, Agios Prokopios, Alikos, Kastraki, Mikri Vigla, Plaka, and Agios Georgios, most of them near Chora.
According to Greek mythology, the young Zeus was raised in a cave on Mt. Zas (“Zas” meaning “Zeus“). Homer mentions “Dia”; literally the sacred island “of the Goddess”. Karl Kerenyi explains (speaking as if he were an ancient Greek): “This name, Dia, which means ‘heavenly’ or ‘divine’, was applied to several small craggy islands in our [Aegean] sea, all of them lying close to larger islands, such as Crete or Naxos. The name “Dia” was even transferred to the island of Naxos itself, since it was more widely supposed than any other to have been the nuptial isle of Dionysus.”
One legend has it that in the Heroic Age before the Trojan War, Theseus abandoned the princess Ariadneof Crete on this island after she helped him kill the Minotaur and escape from the Labyrinth. Dionysus (god of wine, festivities, and the primal energy of life) who was the protector of the island, met Ariadne and fell in love with her. But eventually Ariadne, unable to bear her separation from Theseus, either killed herself (according to the Athenians), or ascended to heaven (as the older versions had it). The Naxos portion of the Ariadne myth is also told in the Richard Strauss opera Ariadne auf Naxos.
The giant brothers Otus and Ephialtes figure in at least two Naxos myths: in one, Artemis bought the abandonment of a siege they laid against the gods, by offering to live on Naxos as Otus’s lover; in another, the brothers had actually settled Naxos.