• Greece
  • Paros


Timeless treasures amidst nature's embrace



Nestled in the heart of the Aegean Sea, the islands of Paros and Antiparos represent a captivating destination renowned for their rich cultural heritage. From ancient civilizations and medieval fortresses to Byzantine churches and traditional Cycladic architecture, this duo offers a fascinating blend of history, art, and natural beauty.


The roots of Paros and Antiparos’s cultural heritage can be traced back to the prehistoric era. Archaeological discoveries on Paros reveal a significant Cycladic settlement dating back to the Early Bronze Age (3200-2000 BCE). The enigmatic Cycladic figurines, with their minimalistic yet elegant form, epitomize the artistic achievements of this era.

Paros, with its advantageous geographical position in the center of the Cyclades and fertile soil, attracted the attention of ancient civilizations. The Cretans recognized its strategic value, transforming the island into a naval station known as Minoa. In 1100 BCE, the Ionians sought to conquer Paros, ultimately succeeding by overthrowing the Minoans and establishing their rule. Evidence of this early civilization can be seen at the Mycenaean Acropolis near Kolimbithres.

During the Dorian invasion of Arcadia around 1100 BCE, Arcadians sought refuge on Paros under the leadership of Paros, from whom the island derived its name. The 8th century BCE marked a prosperous period for Paros, as it emerged as a significant maritime power. This era witnessed not only economic growth but also a flourishing of culture and the arts.

Classical splendor

During the Classical period, Paros flourished as a hub of art, commerce, and intellectual pursuits. The island was home to renowned sculptors and architects, including Agoracritus and Scopas, whose works adorned ancient temples and public spaces throughout Greece. The Temple of Apollo in Parikia, with its impressive colonnades, stood as a magnificent testament to this period.

In Antiparos, the ancient fortified town of Despotiko provides a glimpse into the island’s history during the Classical era. Excavations have unearthed remnants of a sanctuary dedicated to Apollo, as well as a wealth of artifacts that highlight the island’s strategic importance in the region.

Byzantine legacy

With the decline of the Roman Empire, Paros and Antiparos entered a new phase of their cultural heritage under Byzantine rule. 

The islands became integrated into the Byzantine Empire, and its population embraced Christianity. This religious shift led to the construction of a multitude of churches, chapels, and monasteries across the island, reflecting the prevailing faith and religious practices of the Byzantine era.

Byzantium’s influence is evident in the numerous churches and monasteries that dot the islands. The Panagia Ekatontapiliani (Church of 100 Doors) in Parikia stands as an architectural marvel, its origins dating back to the 4th century. Adorned with exquisite Byzantine frescoes, this holy site serves as a testament to the island’s spiritual significance.

Venetian influence

During the Venetian occupation in the Middle Ages, Paros and Antiparos underwent significant changes. Between the years 1207 and 1389, the islands found themselves under the rule of the Venetian Marco Sanudo, as part of the Duchy of the Aegean. As a strategic measure against pirate invasions during the 15th century, the Fort of Naoussa was constructed. This once imposing fortress served as a vital defensive structure, ensuring the safety and protection of the island’s residents and their livelihoods from the constant threat of piracy. Today, the remnants of the Naoussa Fort stand as a testament to Paros’ historical struggles and its enduring commitment to safeguarding its cultural heritage. Other fortresses and defensive structures were constructed to protect against pirate raids, leaving a lasting architectural imprint. Antiparos, does not boast an actual castle. However, it possesses a picturesque neighborhood known as “kastro” (meaning castle), which features remnants of walls and a tower that once formed part of the castle’s structure.

Ottoman influence

The Ottoman period ushered in a new chapter in the cultural heritage of Paros and Antiparos. Paros experienced a significant shift in its political landscape when it fell under Ottoman rule in 1537. This Ottoman dominion continued until the Greek War of Independence, between 1821–1829, marking almost three centuries of foreign control. A noteworthy event occurred during the Russo-Turkish War, between 1768–1774, when Naoussa Bay served as the headquarters for Count Alexey Orlov’s Russian Archipelago Squadron from 1770 to 1775. The Treaty of Constantinople in 1832 brought a transformative change as Paros became an integral part of the newly established Kingdom of Greece, reuniting the Parians with fellow Greeks after six centuries of foreign rule. Notably, during this period, Paros became closely associated with the nationalist movement, and a remarkable figure emerged: Manto Mavrogenous. Manto Mavrogenous, both a financier and a warrior in the struggle for independence, made Paros her home. Her residence, situated near the Ekatontapiliani church, stands today as a historical monument, paying homage to her significant contributions to the cause of freedom.

Contemporary times

Paros and Antiparos have continued to evolve and flourish, embracing modernity while preserving their cultural heritage. The islands have become renowned for their artistic communities, attracting painters, sculptors, writers, and musicians from around the world.

Parikia has transformed into a vibrant cultural hub, with numerous galleries and art studios showcasing the works of both local and international artists. The annual Paros Art Festival, held in various venues across the island, celebrates creativity and fosters artistic exchange. Antiparos, with its bohemian atmosphere, has become a haven for creative souls seeking inspiration. The Antiparos International Photo Festival, held annually, showcases a diverse selection of independent artists and serves as a platform for emerging talents.

Both islands have also embraced sustainable tourism, promoting eco-friendly practices and preserving their natural beauty. Visitors can explore the pristine beaches, engage in water sports, or embark on hiking trails that reveal breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea.

The local gastronomy of Paros and Antiparos is a delicious reflection of the islands’ cultural heritage. Traditional tavernas offer a tantalizing array of Mediterranean flavors, with fresh seafood, locally sourced produce, and unique Cycladic recipes. Visitors can savor the renowned Parian wine, produced from local vineyards, and experience the warmth and hospitality of the islanders.

In recent years, Paros and Antiparos have also witnessed an upsurge in sustainable agriculture and organic farming practices. The islands’ fertile soil and favorable climate have enabled the cultivation of a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and aromatic herbs, providing a farm-to-table experience for visitors seeking authentic culinary delights.



All our content is conceived and written by our editorial team, consisting of students and recent graduates in Cultural Heritage, Ancient and Medieval History, and Arts.
Last updated on July 18, 2023
  1. Read the guide

    Focused on the bigger picture that really matters.

  2. Take a tour!

    Discover more through an engaging storytelling walk.

  3. Discover more

    Check out more historical places near you in our map.