Naxos is the largest island in the Cyclades, renowned for its rich history and beautiful architecture. It was the center of archaic Cycladic culture. The island is famous as a source of emery, a rock rich in corundum, which until modern time was one of the best abrasives available.
According to mythology, Zeus, the king of gods grew up in Naxos, hidden away from the ferocity of his father, Cronus as well as his son Dionysus, the god of wine. Dionysus loved so much Naxos that he made it fertile land, full of vineyards, producing a wine of excellent taste and fine quality. The locals then built a temple to Dionysus to honor their god.
Naxos is also the place where Theseus, after killing the Minotaur of Crete, took Ariadne, the daughter of the Cretan King, Minos, who helped him find his way in the labyrinth where the Minotaur was kept and stopped in Naxos on his way back to Athens. There, he left Ariadne (or Ariadne left him, depending on the version of the legend) for whom Dionysus fell madly in love with. The God took the young girl to Mount Drios and, from there union, Oinopion (Wine Drinker), Staphylos (Grape) and Evanthi (Lovely Flower) were born.
Historically, Naxos was the most important center of civilization of all the Cyclades during the ancient period, 4000-1000 BC. The Thracians were the first inhabitants in Naxos who remained for two centuries until the Carean took control of the island. It is believed that the island owes its name to its leader of Thracians called Naxos. Then the island was dominated by the Ionians who contributed to the development and growth of Naxos, with the sea trading which brought wealth during the 7th century BC. Prelude to the Persian war, Naxos revolt encouraged other cities to join the struggle against the Persians. Then the Peloponnesian War came, during which the Athenians lost from the Spartans taking under control of the island. Then, Naxos felt under a succession of authorities which were the Macedonian Empire, the Ptolemy of Egypt, the Rhodians and, in 41 BC, the Roman Empire. Christianity appeared on the island during the 1st century AD.
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 Glynado.