The ancient city of Naxos provides a glimpse into the past, being the first Greek colony in Sicily. Founded in 734 BC named for Naxos on the Cyclade island. Like its island sister, this Naxos had a temple to Apollo, called the ara di Apollo, who was the protector of Greek Sicily.

The city was walled and built of volcanic rock, and the original site was comprised 10 hectares (25 acres) then expanded to 40 (100 acres). Part of it was established along the Torrente Santa Venera, where a sanctuary was erected to the goddess Venus along that stream. Today, a pathway traverses the old fluvial track of the Venera stream. The city was closely tied to the bay and port, and acted as the commercial port for Taormina until the Roman age. The original settlement was a rectagular grid with three main streets running east-west intersected by narrow north-south streets. There was a commercial zone and religious areas, with Etna in the background. It is a lovely place to stroll amidst greenery to see the remains of the ancient culture. The museum contains a wealth of artifacts from the excavations.

The town was important for two reasons: one, it had more kilns than any other in eastern Sicily, most outside the walls, to produce terra cotta in every form from the area's rich clay; and two, it had a mint that created silver coins, with the head of Dionysius on one side, and bunch of grapes on the other.

The Archeological Museum and Park holds the ruins of the ancient town, and the artifacts found here, and is worth a visit. The ancient Naxos was destroyed in 403 BC and given over to the native Siculi people, but declined steadily as the focus shifted to nearby Taormina, founded in 358 BC. The port continued to be an important one even as the town itself abated.

The archeological park and museum of Naxos Giardini is open from 9:00 AM til 6:00 PM daily.

Photo Credit: fotovideomike from Italia (Michele Ponzio, @michele_ponzio) - Baia di Taormina - Sicily, CC BY-SA 2.0

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Address in Giardini Naxos:

Via Schiso.

Ph. (+39) 094 251 001.