Looking at the buildings of Naxos, we can see that history haw left its marks on the architecture of the island. Rich variety of architectural monuments, which had been left over by different people and cultures, make up the image over the years. The period, which shaped decisively Naxos, is the Franks sovereignty with the medieval castle of Chora and the dispersed imposing stone Venetian towers, throughout the island. The villages are still traditional, because the building was based on the climate, the topography, the needs and all these in charge of the local artisan and with materials from the nearby mountain and river. The Naxos picture is ot different from the Cycladic architecture. All white buildings, white-washed that have at the most two floors and no surface are perfectly flat, the one next to the other, with their courtyards united with paved alleys and stairways.
Houses of Naxos
In Naxos we can see three types of houses: The mansions houses, common houses and towers.
The mansion houses
The mansion houses in Chora are perhaps the oldest urban dwellings in all Cyclades and belonged to rich traders. The main feature of the houses is the large rooms, high ceilings, the large thick walls of stone and internal luxurius layout. A hall dominated in the centre of the house and as a result of its location the whole life of the family was based in there. At the bottom of the house are situated big basements for stocking products. The mansions in the districts outside the Castle were built by wealthy Greeks. Most mansions have a fort character due to their location and the hazards of the region at the time they were built.
The common houses is the most widespread type of residence. In its simplest form it has a rectangular roofed space as a base unit. This single room has always one simply purpose: to house people and to guard the goods. Starting from this simple type more rooms were added, as a kitchen, bedrooms and a larder for products storage. The kitchen had the role of a dining room. The gathering of the family and the reception of the visitors was always taking place in the kitchen. Almost all the houses in the outside have arches, connecting the main entrance to the courtyard. All courtyards have all kinds of flowers and creeper herbs. Also in the courtyard some had a small stable for the domestic animals and a bakery kiln built by clay. Even today, most houses follow the architecture of the common houses.
Of particular interest are the names of the individual architectural parts of the houses:
Anefanos: the chimney
Morsa: marble columns and temples which frame the windows and doors.
Volta: arches as stone half circles, supporting the roof of the house and decorate the entrance of the house.
Doma: the terrace.
Pounti: the vast veranda.
Kountoynto: the initial entry of the water to the drain pipe.
Afoukla: a drain pipe without the tube. A track for the water fitted to the wall.
Parastia: the fireplace.
But we must not forget “mitatous” and “mazomous”, small houses of shepherds and farmers that are scattered in every corner of Naxos. Comfort one-room buildings made by stone and some mud, with the bind beams formed as the roof, with a large fireplace for cooking, with “methyria” for the wine, the olive-oil and the “askoudes”, with a “damitzana”for raki, a “tyroskamno”for cheese, a “kantari” (cental) for weighing, with an niche at the wall for the icon, “lychno” (bracket lamp) for lighting, “dikanno” (double barreled gun) for the “gadourafti” (rabbit), a “magkali” (fire basket) for warmth, the “fanari” instead of a refrigerator and a “stamna” for water. Externally there is a stone-built barnyard with the “ampasa” (entrance) and a marble “gourna” (basin) for the watering of the animals.
Most of the towers were built in Naxos in 1600 and after the Venetian Domination, for protection from depredation of the pirates but also to impose its sovereignty to the locals. Today, about 30 such towers are built on the most fertile farmland of Naxos. They have many floors and none has white exterior walls of whitewash. The towers are all in the colour of the stone and the soil of the around region so as not to stand out from the environment. The incredible style is consisted of bastions, battlements, “zemetistres” large and solid doors, which make an impregnable tower.
Naxos holds an important position in the history of Byzantine art because of the large number of temples which are scattered almost across the surface of the island. Religious monuments decorate and create awe with their architecture. Characteristics of the churches, starting from the palaiochristian times, are the Basilicas of the 6th A.C.century and several other types of temples, “kamaroskepeis” (arch-roofed), temples of “mafsoleioy” (mausoleum )type, temples “idiotypoi”, “dikogchoi” (double-aisle), “trikogchoi” (triple-aisle), with dome that illustrate the strong religious culture of Naxos. The materials are “argolithodomi” more of less carefully placed. Another feature of the temples are the arches, which in most of them are semi-circular and rarely rectangular triple-parted. There are also “anapsydoi” in both Byzantine and after Byzantine temples. The cupolas have drums in cylindrical form, in almost all cases, with minor exceptions of eight-parts. Also, sometimes, we can see cupolas with the base being particularly pressed that gives the impression of a square or a rectangle form with rounded corners. There are also saved parts of significant marble temples and frescoes that wee damaged throughout the years.