Above: Naousa Habor, Paros
Paros, yet another island of the Cyclades island group, lies to the west of Naxos, from which it is separated by a channel about 8 km wide. Its nearest neighbor is the much smaller island of Antiparos, lying to its southwest. At its narrowest, the channel between the two islands is less than 2 km wide. A car-carrying shuttle-ferry operates all day (to and from Pounda, 3 miles south of Parikia). In addition a dozen smaller islets surround Paros.
Paros has numerous beaches including Chrissi Akti (Golden Beach) near Drios on the east coast, at Pounda, Logaras, Piso Livadi, Naousa Bay, Parikia and Agia Irini. The constant strong wind in the strait between Paros and Naxos makes it a favoured windsurfing location.
Historically, Paros was known for its fine white marble, which gave rise to the term “Parian” to describe marble or china of similar qualities. Today, abandoned marble quarries and mines can be found on the island, but Paros is primarily known as a popular tourist spot.
The capital, Parikia, is situated on a bay on the north-west side of the island, occupying the site of the ancient capital of Paros. Parikía harbor is a major hub for the Aegean islands ferries and catamarans, with several departures each day for Piraeus, Heraklion in Crete, and other islands such as Naxos, Ios, Santorini, and Mykonos.
The houses in Parikia town are built in the traditional Cycladic fashion, with flat roofs, whitewashed walls and blue-painted doors and window frames and shutters. On a rock at the shore are the remains of a medieval castle, built almost entirely of the marble remains of an ancient temple. Traces of antiquity, in the shape of bas-reliefs, inscriptions, columns, etc. are numerous. Close to the modern harbor, the remains of an ancient cemetery have recently been discovered during non-archaeological excavations.
In the main square of Parikia you’ll find the town’s principal church, the Panagia. Ekatontapiliani, which literally means “church of the hundred doors”. It is very old, some of its features probably predates Christianity. It is said to have been founded by the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (ruled 306–337 AD), Saint Helen, during her pilgrimage to the Holy Land. There are two adjoining chapels, one of very early form, and also a baptistery with a cruciform font.
Parikia town has a small but interesting archaeological museum housing some of the many finds from sites on the island of Paros. The best pieces, however, are in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. The museumin Paros contains a fragment of the Parian Chronicle, a remarkable chronology of ancient Greece. Inscribed in marble, its entries give time elapsed between key events from the most distant past (1500 BC) down to 264 BC.
On the north side of the island you’ll find the bay of Naoussa, which provides a safe and spacious harbor used also in antiquity. Another good harbor is that of Drios on the south-east side, where the Turkish fleet used to anchor on its annual voyage through the Aegean during the period of Ottoman rule over Paros (1537–1832).
The three villages of Dragoulas, Marmara and Tsipidos, situated on an open plain on the eastern side of the island, and rich in remains of antiquity, probably occupy the site of an ancient town. They are known together as the “villages of Kephalos” after the steep and lofty hill of Kephalos. On this hilltop stands the monastery of Agios Antonios. Around it are the ruins of a medieval castle which belonged in the late Middle Ages to the Venetian noble family of the Venieri. They gallantly but vainly defended it against the Turkish admiral Barbarossa in 1537.
Another beautiful village on Paros is Lefkes. It is an inland mountain village 10 km from Parikia. It is picturesque with narrow streets, visiting the island you should take your time and stroll through the narrow streets enjoying the carefully whitewashed houses decorated by colorful flowers.
Things to do
Windsurfing: The island of Paros island is known worldwide for wind- and kitesurfing and is considered by many to be one of the best spots in all of the Greek islands.
Paros, as most of the islands in the Cyclades, offers ideal weather conditions with the blessing of the Meltemi in the summer months (the local Cycladic wind).
For that reasons, Paros was chosen by the PWA (Professional Windsurfers Association) and each year, since 1993, the beach of New Golden Beach welcomes the World Cup.
There are several diving centres in various locations on Paros island. You’ll find three of them at the Golden Beach, two at Pounda port, one in Aliki on the southwestern coast, and two at the beach of Santa Maria on the northeastern coast of Paros island.
- SurfClub, Santa Maria, tel: +30 22840 52491-3 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Paros Surf Club, Nea Golden Beach, tel: +30 22840 41778 www.parosurf.gr
- Sunwind, Golden Beach, tel: +30 22840 42900 www.sunwind.gr
- Punda Surf Club, Punda, tel: +30 6977 003855
- Force 7 Paros Windsurfing Centre, Golden Beach, tel: +30 22840 41789 www.force7paros.gr