Naxos is the most ancient Greek colony in Sicily and it’s set in a wonderful scenario, with the perfume of citrus groves (that are the gardens that give the name to the contemporary city), the mouth of river Acalantra, the sea view on the promontory of Taormina, and the Etna in the background.
Naxos was the first Greek colony built in Sicily in 734 B.C. and it was set on the eastern side of the island, and it was a port center both commercial and military. For this reason it was interest of some tyrant of the island to conquer and rebuilt this city. At first it was Hippocrates of Gela that conquered Naxos at the beginning of V century B.C., then Hiero of Syracuse in 476 moved the population in a near center and organized a restoration of the urban planning of the city and it is possible to see today part of the new grid plan structure.
The city was an alley of Athens and it supported in the military campaign against Syracuse in 415-413 B.C. during the Peloponnesian war. Naxos lost with Athens and after this defeat the tyrant of Syracuse Dionysus destroyed completely the city, and this fact was the end of Naxos.
The exiles went to the near Taormina that became a big important city and this prevent the possibility to restore the center of Naxos, that became a small town that persist to be inhabited until VI century A.D. but it was far to look like the oldest center bigger and more important.
The archaeological area of Naxos
The archaeological site of ancient Naxos extends over the Schisò peninsula, on an area of about 37 hectares.
From the archaic phases of the city there is the evidence of the perimeter of the ancient cyclopean walls that were used also in the new city. It is possible to recognize the grid plan made of three main streets from east to west that was crossed by other smaller streets from north to south.
Also referable to this period, some dwellings and the sacred areas were distributed along the margins by urban perimeter and survived the destruction of 476 BC.
At the north-east end we find the most important temple which has two phases of construction, that of the fifth century in particular is represented by an oikos of 38x16m. On the opposite side, there was an archaic shrine and here the existence of other minor places of worship is witnessed by the architectural terracottas found. Along the wall of the temenos numerous remains of the architecture of the temples have been found that have allowed to reconstruct the decoration of the buildings.
There are also the remains of the naval arsenal composed by four lanes. The dimension of the arsenal is reduced, but it was a fundamental structure for the city that is completely organized around the see and the port.
Imagine Copyright: By Hein56didden - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
You may also be interested in the other archaeological sites in Sicily or the archaeological sites of the ancient Greeks in Italy mapped on the platform.
Monday-Sunday from 9,00 am to one hour before sunset
Full ticket: 4 €
Reduced ticket: 2€ (18-25 years)
Free entrance: until 18 years
ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE CARD:
FOUNDATION: VII century b.C.
DECLINE: V century b.C.
ADMINISTRATION: Parco archeologico Naxos Taormina
DISCOVERY: XX century
How to get to Naxos
By car: it is possible to get to the archaeological park of garden of Naxos by car as you get to Messina, take motorway a14/e45 in direction Catania, until exit Giardini Naxos and then SS145 via Zara, via Naxos, via volcano until your destination in via Schisò.
From Catania is the same motorway a18 e 45 in direction Messina, and as you get to the exit Giardini Naxos follow the direction given in the route from Messina
By bus: from Messina there is a bus sicilia-puglia to Palermo politeama that stops in the center of Giardini Naxos. The bus stop is only 10 minutes away from the entrance of the archaeological site, where you can get by foot
From Catania there is a bus Sicilia Puglia in direction San Giovanni rotondo that stops in Giardini Naxos.