Sometimes when you choose an attraction based solely on a short paragraph in your guidebook, you are disappointed when you arrive. Fortunately, that was not the case with the Temple of Demeter on Naxos. Pictured above, the temple was nothing short of spectacular. And it’s a good thing too since it took us a few attempts to find it on our big sightseeing day on the Cycladic island of Naxos last summer.
We only had one full day to explore everything that Naxos had to offer before we departed for Paros the next morning. Naxos is known for having some important historical sites and we didn’t want to miss any of them. The most significant ruin is The Portara (pictured left), a large doorway that was supposed to be the entrance to a temple for Apollo that never was finished. The Portara has become the emblem of Naxos and it’s very easy to reach — you can see it from the ferry as you sail up to the port and it’s just a short walk from town.
Naturally, I was not satisfied with just seeing the Portara and I wanted the challenge of reaching the Temple of Demeter, which is set inland near the small town of Sangri. Once we were finally going the correct way, we kept asking ourselves how much further it would be and whether we should just turn around. That’s because we were going down a seemingly endless one-lane dirt road through a field, which is a fitting setting for a temple for the goddess of grain.
Against all odds, we made it and, as you can see, it was well worth the effort. The marble Temple of Demeter was restored by German archaeologists in 1990s. It was originally built circa 530 AD and then in the 6th Century AD it was dismantled and transformed into a church. It was in complete disrepair until the archaeologists were able to unearth most of the parts of the temple and recreate its original form.