THE PORTARA OF NAXOS
Portara, the trademark monument of Naxos, stands atop the islet of Palatia, connected today with Naxos by a causeway. This huge marble gate was the entrance to a monumental Ionian temple (to Dionysus or Apollo), 59 m. long and 28 m. wide. This ambitious project, left unfinished, was launched by Lygdamis, tyrant of Naxos, in the 6th century BC, in an attempt to rival similar buildings of the time, such as the Olympieion of Athens and the Heraeon of Samos. Portara, roughly 6 m. high and 3.5 m. wide, is made of four blocks, each weighing 20 tonnes. A Christian church was built on the temple’s ruins, and its building blocks were reused by the Venetians for the castle of Naxos. However, Portara remains intact and continues to greet visitors arriving at Naxos.
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