“The Olive tree is one of the most beloved, sacred trees and its place is firmly rooted in Ancient Greek tradition and mythology. Traditionally, the olive tree is a symbol of peace and friendship, this association began in ancient Greece, as early as the fifth century.”
Naxos is the island where my father comes from so it’s a big LOVE! When Amanda and Will asked me to capture their wedding I was more than excited! They arrived, with friends and relatives, from San Francisco and enjoyed days full of love, sun, sea, and laughter! On Naxos, at Agios Isidoros Adyssarou, where the wedding took place, there is a pre-Minoan olive tree, the age of which is estimated at 4,500-5,000 years old. It is a tree whose main trunk was “lost” over time, separated into many branches and now its diameter exceeds 29 meters!
A very special place for such a special wedding! After traveling all over the world, Amand and Will chose Naxos as their most favorite wedding location. No wonder why..
Naxos is the largest island in the Cyclades, covering an area of 448 square km, placed right in the center of the Aegean. Its climate is known for its dry, cool summers and its mild winters. The island is diamond-shaped. To the east, a mountain range cuts across it. Streams flowing from this mountainous area course across the island in all directions. Among its tallest mountains are Zas (at 1004m – the highest mountain in the Cyclades), Fanari (903 m) and Koronos (992 m). From the peak of Mt Zas one can see the whole of Naxos and all the surrounding Cycladic islands. On the eastern side of the mountain range, there are deep gorges and small cultivated valleys, such as that of Apollonas and Lionas. In the center of Naxos is the plain of Tragea, bursting with all kinds of trees. On the western side, there are lush green valleys watered from the springs, such as Melanes, Potamia, and Eggares. Livadi is a large and fertile plain stretching from the southern side of Hora down to the south-westerly coast. Naxos’ greatest assets are its long, sandy beaches. The southern shores of the island, from Hora to Moutsouna, abound in beautiful beaches. The beaches on the western side, near Hora, are well-known and offer many conveniences. Even the most remote beaches, on the eastern side, are accessible from Moutsouna. Last but not least, on the northern shores of Naxos, there are lots of bays with tiny sheltered beaches.
There are about 20.000 people living on Naxos today. The main source of income is agriculture and animal farming, but also commerce, marble quarrying and in the last 20 years, tourism. About a quarter of the population lives in Hora most of the locals live in the villages. There are about 40 villages varying in size, whose inhabitants remain unaffected by the busy world of tourism. These people still follow the old ways, still populating the inland parts. These settlements were built there so as to be undetectable from the sea: the people feared the pirates, who terrorized the inhabitants of the Aegean islands for many centuries. For this reason, the Naxians made their living from farming and animal husbandry, rather than from the sea. Strange as it may sound, only in the past few years, with the development of tourism, the Naxians started to build settlements on the coast. It is the inhabitants of the villages who have kept the spirit of the island alive, by preserving the bonds with the history, the traditions and the local culture of Naxos, safeguarding their heritage by making it part of their everyday life. There is in Naxos an important, lively musical tradition which is apparent in the inexhaustible flow of talented musicians, dancers, and songwriters. The Naxians are open-hearted, warm and welcoming. Their approach to life is both spirited and playful.
The very early stages of human habitation on Naxos are lost in the mists of myth. Naxos features prominently in Greek mythology. In this island, Zeus, Apollo, Dionysus and Ariadne, Demeter and Artemis were worshiped above all. Zeus, the father of all gods, was born in Crete but was brought up in Naxos in his honor the inhabitants named the island’s tallest mountain after him (Zeus or Zas). On the peak of Mt Zas an eagle gave Zeus the thunder, through the power of which he became ruler of Olympus, home of the gods. Zeus fell in love with Semele, daughter of the king of Thebes. The jealous goddess Hera beguiled the young Semele into asking Zeus to appear in front of her in all his divine splendor. Zeus granted her wish, but the mortal woman could not bear the awesome sight. She perished, but Zeus saved their unborn child. He stitched the embryo into his thigh, whence Dionysus was born, in Naxos. Although the core tradition is that Dionysus was then carried off to the distant Mt Nysa in Asia, another one claims that the Nymphs Filia, Kleide and Koronis took over Dionysus’ upbringing, hiding him in the cave of Koronos, which the local folk calls «evil». The people of Naxos worshipped Dionysus who in turn blessed their island with rich vineyards.