Portara – Apollo Temple, Naxos, Greece

The Portara stands on Palatia, which was once a hill but is now a separate little island connected to Naxos by a causeway. (The Mediterranean has risen significantly since ancient times.)

The Portara is the entrance to an unfinished temple that faces directly toward Delos, Apollo’s birthplace. For this reason most scholars believe it was dedicated to Apollo, but some think it was built in honor of Dionysus, who was worshipped on Naxos Island.

Whichever god it was dedicated to, the temple was begun about 530 BC by the tyrant Lygdamis, who said he would make Naxos’s buildings the highest and most glorious in Greece. Only the walls were mostly completed when he was overthrown in 506 BC; the temple was never finished. Evidence from pottery indicates the temple’s cult was abandoned by the 5th century BC.

By the 5th and 6th centuries AD, the temple had been converted into a church. Under Venetian and Turkish rule the temple was dismantled so its marble could be used to build a castle. The doorway, however, was so large and heavy it could not be used, so it remains standing alone among the ruins.

Visit Greece. Epic Greece Adventure Route © Monika Newbound

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