Where is exactly Paros?
Paros is situated in the middle of the warm Aegean Sea in the heart of Greece. It belongs to the Cyclades islands group that consist of 39 islands of which 24 are inhabited. The more important ones (in alphabetical order) are the following:
Amorgos, Anafi, Andros, Delos, Ios, Kea, Kimolos, Folegandros, Milos, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Santorini, Serifos, Sikinos, Sifnos, Syros, Tinos.
Paros is the third biggest island after Naxos and Andros in the Cyclades with a coastline of about 120 km and around 13.000 inhabitants.
Map of the Cyclades:
How can I get to Paros?
Paros and it's little sister Antiparos is just 95 nautical miles from Piraeus. The island is easily accessible with the frequent ferry and speed ferry connections between the island and Athens (Piraeus and Rafina), with other island of the Cyclades and also Ikaria, Samos, Rhodes, Kos, Crete and Thessalonica. With the speed ferry takes about 3-4 hours to get to the island from Rafina or Piraeus, with the ferry it takes a bit longer, around 4 1/2 - 5 hours. In addition Paros has an airport - between the village of Alyki and the capital city of Paroikia - that in the summertime provides daily flights between Athens and the island. (in the wintertime approx. 3 times a week) The flight only takes 3/4 hour.
Next year a new airport will start to be built in order to allowing larger aircrafts to land. This and the recently completed marina in Paroikia are major projects on this already favored spot, where all ferries stop before going to the other Cycladic Islands, and will have a tremendous impact on tourism and property values.
The climate is temperate with mild winters and hot summers refreshed by the characteristic wind called Meltemi. The season starts as early as March when the air temperatures rise above seawater temperatures. The average mean air temperature in springtime is 13-22 Celsius, summertime 22-29 Celsius and pleasant 14-22 Celsius in the autumn with water temperatures 20-25 Celsius at summertime and in the autumn. Even January the sea temperature is several degrees higher that the air temperature. The winter air temperature usually never falls under 6 Celsius, frost is very rare. July and August is the peak in high temperatures and sun hours. The Meltemi is a dry wind which occasionally blows from the north between May and September. It provides cooling, low humidity and good visibility. Furthermore, it can be characterised as one of the few Mediterranean winds that do not necessarily die out at the end of the day and can easily last more than three to six days, that's why it is highly appreciated by sailors.
A bit of history
The first traces of civilization on the island of Cyclades rise in the Neolithic times about 4000 years before J. C.
In the 6th century Paros played an important role as the centre of commerce and naviation, maintaining commercial relations with the Phoenicians. The island and its colonies quickly became the centre of culture too.
Christianity arrived to Paros in the 4th century after J. C. In 326 AD the mother of Alexander the Great (St. Helen) raised the famous "Church of 100 doors" ("Ekatontapiliani") in Paroikia. The church is the exact copy of the St Sofia Cathedral in Constantinople, but smaller in size.
In the 10th century Venetians won over the island and integrated it in the Duchy of the Aegean of which the capital was Naxos.
During the Ottoman occupation heavy taxes were imposed on the Parians. Nevertheless some religious freedom was allowed to built a lot of orthodox monasteries and churches which we can admire today in all over Paros.
In the 19th century Paros gained back freedom, peace and democracy.
Paros is an attractive island of terraced hills, whitewashed settlements, windmills and beautiful beaches.
Located on the north of the island it is the one of most picturesque villages of the Cyclades. It's fishing port has been important in each historic periods and it is at present too. The anchoring colourful fishing boats and a 15th century Venetian Kastro half sunk in the water determines unforgettable atmosphere of the city. Along the newly renovated port and main square you can find small "ouzeries" (perfect place to try Greece' aromatic national spirit) and taverns that is particularly lively at night. The centre of the city is consisting of little whitewashed alleys, tiny boutiques and cafeterias. The streets are so narrow that it would be impossible to enter by car, leave it in one of the free parking places along the river (the only sweet water river of the island flows to the sea here in Naoussa). Close to the city in the bay of Naoussa you can find wonderful beaches: Kolimbitres, Monastiri and Santa Maria.
Marble quarries (Marmara)
On the way to Lefkes, close to the little town of Naoussa, which in Roman times was the island's main port for the shipment of Lychnites marble situated the ancient marble quarries that are open for visitors. The whole island is covered with a layer of coarse-grained crystalline limestone, in which lie rich beds of pure marble. The island's considerable prosperity has depended since ancient times on agriculture, favoured by fertile soil and an abundance of water, and on the working on marble, which is still quarried on a small scale.
The little village in the heart of the island, hidden in the mountains was the capital of Paros in the Venetian times. It's location made it easily defendable from the attacks of the enemies so it is the only village on the island without the fortification wall. It was founded by fugitives from Crete, Pelopennese and inhabitants from Naoussa. The main attraction of Lefkes is the church of "Aghia Triada" ("Holy Trinity"). The way to the main square where the church situated is really charming, narrow curvy streets bordered with flower pots and typical Cycladic houses. Close by you can find the old Byzantine road which offers a nice excursion and leads you to the typically Greek village of Prodromos, built in the 17th century. Marmara, Marpissa are pretty villages too at the foot of the mountains. From the village you can drive up to the highest point of the island (Mount Profitis Ilias), that is exactly 764 m above sea level and offers a magnificent view!
The Eastern coast
The eastern coast is famous of it's sandy beaches. Piso Livadi is a nice village with lots of hotels and a lovely harbour from which excursion boats set sail towards Delos and Mykonos. A bit further south Drios is a well known holiday destination as well with beautiful apartment houses and lush gardens. Between the two villages lies Golden Beach and New Golden Beach the biggest sandy beaches on the island. In 2005 the International Surf Competition was held here because this part of the island is always benefits from constant south-eastern winds.
The southernmost settlement of Paros is a charming fishing village with numerous taverns bordering a fishing- and yacht port and a wide sandy beach. Alyki is less touristy than the villages of the eastern coast, most of the houses are holiday homes and some of the inhabitants often stay for the winter too. The large playground is especially popular among families, but the sports courts (tennis, football and basketball) offer entertainment for the teenagers and sport loving adults too.
This small islands lies off the Southwest coast of Paros, it has a coastline of 56 km. Separated from Paros only by a small channel the tiny island is a natural extension of the island. In summertime the ferry crosses in every half hour until midnight, the crossing takes only 10 minutes. The boat arrives to village of Antiparos that is a lovely fishing village with seaside taverns. There are a number of good beaches to visit: Psaslyki, Sifnakos Gialos, Agios Gialos and Strongyle. Enjoy the natural beauty of the island, discover the numerous underwater caves along the long sandy beaches and visit the main attraction of the island: the Cave. At the entrance of the Cave of Antiparos there is a small chapel dedicated to St John from where the steps descend deep into the awe-inspiring stalactites and stalagmites filled cave.
Want to learn more about the island? Please visit: http://www.greekvillaparos.com/paros.htm
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