Paros is one of the largest Cycladic islands (186 sq. klm.).
It is situated at 37o 5’ latitude, west of Naxos and east of Antiparos, in the centre of Aegean sea routes and 90 nautical miles from Pireaus.
There are frequent connections from Pireaus and Rafina, others Cycladic islands, islands of the eastern Aegean, Thessalonika and Crete (with ferryboats, catamarans and flying dolphins) and flight connections with Athens and Thessalonika.
The trip from Piraeus takes 4,5 hours by ferryboat and 2,5-3 hours by fast boats.
Paros is an island with a rolling landscape. There is a central mountain range Profitis Ilias (776 meters high), which leads down to hillsides which in turn lead down to a beautiful shoreline and plains, which are ideal for farming. This variety of scenery is one of the charms of Parian landscape.
Paros is one of the more fertile islands of the Cyclades. Amongst its produce is its wine (famous since ancient times) olive oil, cereals and fruits. In recent years the production of Parian wine, which is famous world wide, is on the increase, using grapes from local vineyards and bottled in modern bottling factories. Apart from farming, Parians also make their living from fishing and from animal farming.
Nowadays tourism has changed the way of life but the local inhabitants still maintain their traditions. Olive trees and vines continue to bear fruit, fresh fish with its delightful aroma still adorns the Parian dinner table and the local cheese is a gastronomic experience.
Paros has a pleasant climate. The winters are mild with not too much rain and the main characteristic of the summer months is the “Meltemi”, a north wind which blows every yeas (especially in July and August) and which can reach between 5-7 Beaufort in the daytime, creating a cool breeze during the hot summer months.
The subsoil of Paros is mainly made up of granite with layers of marble. The Parian marble, the famous ‘lichnitis’, was a material which was in great demand in ancient times because of its ability to absorb the light and was delivered by the first boats to other shores all over the Aegean. Famous sculptors from ancient times used it for their work and it was a main source of wealth for the island throughout its history.
Paros was inhabited the 4th millennium B.C. and enjoyed periods of great economic and artistic success but also periods of looting, violence and obscurity.
Today, Paros is a popular place for holidays and offers the services and facilities, which are required for the modern day tourist. The capital of the island is Paroikia, on the Western coast, a cosmopolitan Cycladic town. The second largest town is Naoussa, a popular fishing area and one of the most beautiful harbours in the Aegean. Paros also has many beautiful and lively villages, the larger ones being: Lefkes, Marmara, Pisso Livadi, Drios, Angeria and Aliki.
Remains from ancient buildings have been found all over Paros and are evidence of its rich history. Sanctuary of Ancient Greek Religion, churches from the early Christian years and fortified monasteries are admired by the visitor wherever they do.
However the real beauty of Paros is that which is evident in the soul of the people. Simple people, who are creative, warm, welcoming and with an innate respect and love for their fellow human beings.
The history of Paros over the years
The first traces of life on Paros were found on the small island of Saliagos, between Paros and Antiparos, one of the oldest settlements in the Aegean from the prehistoric period ( 5th – 4th millennium B.C.).
In the Bronze Age (3200-1100 B.C.) the three major civilizations in the area of Greece were the Cycladic (3200-2000 B.C.) the Minoan (2000-1500 B.C.) and the Mycenean (1600-1100 B.C.). On the castle hill in Parikia remains of an early Cycladic settlement were found and other settlements from the same period were found in various parts of Paros (Kabos, Drios, Koukounaries, Plastiras, Glyfa, Farangas).
During the Minoan rule in the Aegean, Paros was a commercial centre for the Minoan State and a centre for their army. It was also colonized by the Cretans. According to mythology, the Cretan leader who colonized the island was Alkaios, who built the first town where Parikia stands today and give it the name of Minoa (the town of a King). After the decline of Minoan Crete, the Myceneans started to gain strength on the mainland of Greece. In Paros, a centre of Mycenean civilization was discovered on the hill at Koukounaries near Naoussa and on the castle hill in Parikia.
At the turn of the millennium a group of Arcadians lead by Paros settled on the island and gave it the name of their leader. A little while later the Ionians colonized the island and Paros became a large naval strength. The marble business helped to make the island rich and farming and animal farming thrived.
In 680 B.C. Parians colonize Thassos and make use of the deposits of gold on the Thracian shores. In Paros many new workshops opened and some of the most famous sculptures were created. In the 7th century B.C., the art of poetry writing flourished, one of the famous local poets being Archilohos,who is considered on an equal footing with Homer. From the East the Persians begin to show themselves as a new force.The oligarchic government of Paros accepts the presence of the Persians on the island and a large part of the army joins the Persian fleet in the campaigns against Greece. After the defeat of the Persians (480 B.C.) the Athenian fleet lead by Themistoklis lands on the island and forces Paros to become a member of the Athenian allies. The famous sculptors Agorakritos and Skopas lived during this period and created their best works. The towm of Paros a9where Parikia is today) had, at the time, 50.000 inhabitants, wonderful buildings and sanctuaries, a theatre and a stadium. At the end of the Classical Period, Paros becomes an ally of the Makedonians until the time of the death of Alexander the Great.
The period between the death of Alexander the Great until the submission of his successors to the Romans was a period of clashes and confusion. For many years Paros is ruled by the Ptolemeus.
Paros and the rest of Cyclades, together with a large part of the mainland of Greece becomes a province of the Roman Empire. Progress stops and the island was used as a place of exile.
Christianity spreads into Paros from the 4th century as shown by the early Christian churches and monuments. This was when the first church of Panayia (Holy Virgin Mary) Ekatontapiliani was built. From the 10th century onwards Paros finds itself the centre of pirate invasions, which cause extensive destruction.
Paros is a part of the Duchy of Aegean (1207) and belongs to different Venetian families. The local inhabitants work as serfs, using the land of local noblemen to grow crops but without the right to own the land. During this period Paros is troubled by private invasions and looting and Naoussa becomes a base for the pirates. The castles in Parikia, Naoussa and Kefalos (Marpissa) are built during the time of the Venetian Occupation.
After the capture of the island by the pirate Barbossa (1537), and the destruction which follows, the occupation of the Venetians comes to an end. The devastated island is ruled by the Turks (1560). During the time of the Russian-Turkish wars (1770-1777), the Russian fleet users the bay of Naoussa as a safe haven and as a starting point for battles to prevail in the Aegean.
Paros takes an active part in the Greek revolution (1821). The Cyclades together with the Peloponnese and mainland Greece make up the nucleus of the free Greek State. Paros suffers particularly during the period of the German occupation. After the end of the Second World War Patrians were forced to emigrate, first of all to Pireaus and later, abroad. Around 1960 the new period of economic development in Paros begins, mainly dependant on tourism
Parikia The new town
Parikia, built roughly in the centre of the west coast of Paros around a large sheltered bay, is the capital of the island. It is also the administrative and economic centre, the harbour for passengers and goods and the arrival point for thousands of visitors who flock to the island during the summer months.
It’s name, Parikia, goes back to the Byzantine times when many of the island’s inhabitants were serfs who farmed the land belonging to the Church of Ekatontapiliani. These people were called “pariki”, hence the name Parikia. Slowly the “pariki” established themselves in the old town and eventually the name changed from Paros to Parikia.
Parikia is a modern town with all the conveniences which today’s traveler may require. Branches of most of the Greek banks can be found, a post office, health centres, an internet café and a car hire and tourist offices. A wide choice of hotels and rooms to rent and camping sites (Livadia, Krios, Parasporos) enable the tourist to choose the most suitable accommodation. However we advise the tourist not to risk taking the first accommodation offered to them at the port, but instead to make previous bookings in some of the more comfortable, quality and approved accommodation, which is available on the island.
Exploring the town we come across lots of tavernas, restaurants and cafes where starters are served and tasty local and international dishes.
In the tiny streets around the Castle (the old town) and on the beach road, there are all kinds of shops selling local and traditional produce, including objects of Greek Folk Art.
Sunset in Parikia is a unique experience! As soon as the sun goes down the nightlife begins. The bars, cafes, places with live music and clubs come to life and the fun goes on into the early hours of the morning