Considered one of the most beautiful islands of the Cyclades in the Aegean, Paros has been known for centuries for its fine quality white marble, which was used by several of the famous Attic sculptors included Praxiteles. Today the island’s abandoned quarries and mines abound. Paros was a prosperous Ionian colony for most of the 1st millenium BC, then fell under control of the usual succession of regional rulers: the Ptolemys of Egypt, the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, then became a duchy under the rule of Venice until it was conquered by the Ottomans. The Greek war of Independence put a stop to all that in 1821, at least until the Balkan Wars of the next century.
Parikia, the capital of Paros, is a nice starting point; it is a small but lively town of typical Cycladian whitewashed houses with blue woodwork trim, set in narrow winding streets, supposedly “designed” as defences against the various marauding invaders over the centuries. Nowadays it has lots to offer; it is popular with the local international set, with lots of shops and nightlife, but there is a treasure trove of historical and cultural gems to be discovered as well. In the main square, Panagia Ekatonapillani, otherwise known as the “Church of One Hundred Doors”, is perhaps the most famous Byzantine church in all of Greece, and was supposedly founded by Flavia Iulia Helena, also known as St Helen, the mother of Constantine the Great, on her way to the Holy Land to bring back the True Cross. There is a fine archeological museum, and ruins of various temples, and at the top of the village the ruins of a 13th century castle (kastro) built from the marble of the ancient ruined Acropolis.
Naoussa, in the north of Paros, is a lively beach town considered to be one of the prettiest villages in the Cyclades. Built around a ruined Venetian castle, Naoussa has a pleasant harbour and marina lined with enjoyable restaurants and bars. The Church of St Nikolaus at the top of the village houses a Byzantine museum with some fine 13th century icons. An annual town fête on 23 August re-enacts a pirates’ raid on the town in a burst of fireworks, dancing, and festivities.
Lefkes is a picturesque inland mountain village, its typical Cycladic whitewashed houses set in sea of olive and pine groves, with beautiful views. The Church of Agia Triada (Holy Trinity) has some rare Byzantine icons. Marpissa is another authentically-preserved hilltop Cycladic village built amphitheatre-style, with a number of the windmills typical of Paros, and nearby the Agios Antonios monastery is built around the ruins of a Venetian castle on top of Kefalos hill. Piso Livadi is a pleasant little fishing port, now with restaurants, bars, and hotels, and boat trips to other islands.
Paros has a huge variety of beaches in all sizes and shapes. Some can be very crowded, with all the usual seaside attractions or distractions, but quiet, nearly-private sandy coves can be found if you want to avoid it all. In the north of the island the vast nearly-enclosed bay of Naoussa offers several very attractive beaches. Kolymbithres is one of the most famous beaches on Paros, known for its striking granite formations, and can be reached either by road or by the small boats that will take you from Naoussa. Monastiri nearby is also a fine sandy beach, but it gets crowded; it is also popular with the yachting set, and there are seaside beach bars and restaurants, sun lounger - and umbrella hire, and water sports. Santa Maria Beach on Naoussa Bay is a long series of sandy beaches, with firmly-established seaside amenities; although very pleasant, look elsewhere for “unspoilt”. Golden Beach, 700m of fine golden sand, is located on the southeast coast of Paros, and is famous for its ideal windsurfing conditions; it hosts the annual Windsurfing World Cup! The main beach at Parikia is Livadia Beach, actually a procession of several very different beaches. The most crowded beach on the island, if that is what you are looking for, is Pounda, with the entire range of seaside attractions, eateries, and activities, most of them rather loud. For a quieter day beside the seaside, look for Drios, Molos, Piso Livadi, or Agia Irini: beautiful golden sand, crystal clear water, and often a little taverna with the freshest seafood, feta and olives, and a chilled Ouzo waiting for you.
There is an internal airport on Paros, so it is possible to fly to Athens and then take a short flight over to the island. However, it is sometimes difficult to get tickets, especially in high season. We recommend that our clients fly to Athens and then a taxi or bus to the port of Piraeus. There is a high speed hydrofoil to Paros, which is a lovely scenic trip and takes about 2.5 hours. The ferry docks just in front of the windmill which is a good meeting point.
Alyki Parikia church
Potter and his shop Alyki
Views from Lefkes
© Dominique's Villas