Paros is an island with a long history and a rich cultural heritage. There are many archaeological sites and monuments that you can visit in Paros, as archaeological tourism is one of the most popular types of tourism on the island.
One of the most important archaeological sites in Paros is the ancient theatre of Paros, which was built in the ancient city of Paros and can accommodate around 2,500 spectators. In addition, you can visit the ancient castle of Paros, the archaeological site of Despotiko and the ancient temple of Demeter.
If you are interested in archaeological tourism in Paros, you can also visit the Archaeological Museum of Paros in Paros Town. The museum includes a collection of archaeological finds from Paros and the surrounding areas.
Archaeological Museum of Paros
The Archaeological Museum of Paros is located in the town of Parikia and contains a collection of artefacts from prehistory to the Roman era. The museum is located in a building that was renovated and expanded in 2002 to accommodate the collections in the best possible way.
The museum’s collection includes objects from Koukoura, Delion, Naoussa and other archaeological sites of Paros. You can see objects such as ceramics, statues, tools, coins and other objects that reveal the history of the island and the region in general. It is worth noting that apart from other important and admirable findings, the archaeological museum of Paros hosts one of the most important monuments of Greek history, the “Parian Chronicle”. The Parian Chronicle is a marble inscription, engraved in the middle of the 3rd century BC and contains 134 verses of chronological references covering a period of 1,318 years (1528 BC -263 BC). Most of it is now in the Oxford Museum.
The museum is open to the public every day except Monday and admission is free. There are also guided tours available if you wish to explore the museum’s collection with a specialist guide.
The Ekatontapiliani Church is one of the most famous churches of Paros. It is located in the town of Paros, in the valley of Marathia, about 8 kilometers from the capital of the island, Parikia, and is dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
The church was built in the 4th century AD, renovated and extended many times during the Byzantine and Ottoman periods. The current form of the church dates back to 1959 and still retains many ancient elements ,having the form of the Justinian era, a cruciform basilica with a dome.
There are many myths associated with the Ekatontapiliani Church. The most famous myth is related to the construction of the church, where it is said that the architects used secret techniques to be able to build the church on the bottom of the rock, thus bypassing the laws of physics. Locals believe this is why the church has never been destroyed by earthquakes or other natural disasters, such as the 1773 earthquake where the church was destroyed but never completely destroyed. Another legend claims that St. Helen, mother of Constantine the Great, on her way to the Holy Land in search of the Holy Cross, stopped her ship in Paros, where she found a small church, one of the first of the new religion. She prays and makes a vow. If she finds the Holy Cross, to build a great temple on that site. Her prayer was answered, St. Helen found the Cross and fulfilled her promise. Others, of course, claim that Constantine the Great built the temple at the behest of his mother, who did not have time to fulfil her vow.
The church is also linked to Easter, as the Parian Community holds a traditional mass in the church every year on Maundy Thursday of Holy Week. Many festivals and other social events are also held there , with the island’s biggest celebration being the Feast of the Virgin Mary on 15 August.
You can also visit the Byzantine museum of Parikia , located in the church area with rare art icons, woodcarvings and other ecclesiastical relics from the Byzantine and Turkish periods. On the south side of the large church is the 4th century baptistery, the oldest and best preserved baptistery in the entire Orthodox East. In the baptistery there is the oldest fresco of those found on the island, of the 11th – 12th century, depicting St. George.
Venetian Castle of Parikia
The Frangokastello of Paros, as it is also called, is one of the most impressive sights of Paros. Built in the 13th century by the Venetians, the castle is located on the top of the hill of Agios Konstantinos , at the site of the ancient acropolis of Paros, southwest of Parikia , offering stunning views of the sea and the surrounding area.
The castle was of strategic importance to the Venetians, as it allowed them to control the entrance to the port of Parikia and to protect the island from invasions by the corsairs, mainly Turks.
The castle is square in shape and has walls, towers and entrance gates. Inside the castle is the Cathedral of Panagia Catholica, a beautiful Byzantine church worth visiting.
Today, the Venetian Castle of Parikia is one of the most important archaeological destinations of Paros and is open to visitors every day from morning to evening. You can enjoy a walk around the castle walls, admire its architecture and discover its history through the information provided to visitors.
If you visit the Venetian Castle of Parikia, you will have the opportunity to enjoy a leisurely stroll through the alleys of the castle and enjoy the unique atmosphere offered by this historic location. Inside the old town, the narrow streets with small houses are preserved, remnants of the medieval settlement that developed outside the castle, the “xopyrgos”, which was formed in rings in a way that complemented the castle’s defences.
The Dilion of Apollo is an archaeological site located north of Parikia, at a distance of 4 km. This temple is located on top of a hill and faces the ancient city of Delos.This site was one of the most important sanctuaries of ancient Paros and was mainly based on the worship of Dionysus and the nature gods.
Archaeological research has revealed that the history of Dilio starts from the period 2,800 BC – 2,300 BC and continues until the Roman era. The main finds that have been excavated at the site are marbles, statues and ceramic objects as well as traces of another temple dedicated to its sister, the goddess Artemis. In the same location, a small area for banquets was built.Among the other ruins that exist in the area of Dilio, an ancient cemetery dating back to 3000 BC was discovered.During the excavations, fragments of a Colossal statue of Artemis and a statue of Koris dating back to around 360 BC were found, which is in the Archaeological Museum of Paros.
Delion was one of the most important sanctuaries of Paros and the cult of Dionysus was very widespread in the area. This sanctuary was visited by believers from various regions of the Aegean and was considered more sacred than the sanctuary of Dionysus in Naxos.
Today, the archaeological site of Diliou is open to visitors and you can walk around this ancient hill, see the excavated finds and explore its history through the archaeological monuments. In addition, there is a small museum on the site containing artefacts from the excavations of the site.
It is also worth noting that Delios is also important for its architecture. The hill on which the sanctuary is located has been adapted to function as a natural theatre overlooking the sea. Archaeologists believe that this design was used to give a more impressive dimension to the worship events.
Venetian Castle of Naoussa
The Venetian Castle of Naoussa is one of the most important sights of Paros. It was built by the Venetians in the 15th century to protect the port of Naoussa from the attacks of pirates and their enemies.
The castle is built on a hill above the harbour and offers a stunning view of Naoussa Bay. It consists of a series of towers, walls and gates, and was protected by deep underground military storehouses.
Today, the Venetian Castle of Naoussa is one of the most popular attractions on the island and hosts a museum with exhibitions from the history of the island and the castle. To reach the ruins of the castle, most of which is now submerged, you have to walk on the wall that protects Naoussa’s harbour. In addition, various events and cultural events are held in the castle throughout the summer.
The museum is open daily and the entrance is free of charge. If you are in Paros, it would definitely be an excellent opportunity to visit this historical and cultural monument and discover the island’s past.
Anthemion (Anthemon) is a traditional settlement in the northern part of Paros. It is located at an altitude of about 500 meters above sea level and consists of a small community of about 100 inhabitants.
The settlement consists mainly of traditional stone houses and buildings, which retain their traditional architecture. In each elegant building, with beautiful open spaces, with evident Cycladic architecture , are exhibited folklore and various other collections, which over time are enriched with new elements. In Anthemion there are also two traditional cafes, a small museum and a restaurant, but also a rich library which includes five thousand books, magazines, printed matter, representing for the most part, authors who originate or live in Paros, or (mainly) any publication that mentions information about Paros and Antiparos for the Cyclades in general, without omitting books of general interest.
Byzantine Museum of Naoussa
The Byzantine Museum of Paros is located in the village of Naoussa on Paros. The museum is located in an old traditional building dating from the 15th to the 19th century and includes an interesting collection of artworks of the Byzantine period that have been collected and exhibited in the holy monastery of Agios Athanasios, making the visit even more interesting.
The museum’s collection includes icons by Parian hagiographers, ceramics from the Byzantine era, sculptures from the Venetian period and a part of a Byzantine fresco from the 12th century that was preserved in the Protoria of Naoussa. It is worth noting that the collection also includes a number of early Christian inscriptions and votive offerings , while you will also see rare icons such as the Virgin Mary of Vrefokratousa and the Deposition and all this in an intimate, beautiful environment.
The Byzantine Museum of Paros is one of the most important cultural treasures of the island and is worth a visit if you are interested in Byzantine art and the history of Paros. From April the museum is open all day long!
Folklore Museum of Marpissa
The Folklore Museum of Marpissa is located in the village of Marpissa, in Paros. The museum was founded in 1976 by the Women’s Association of Marpissa and includes a collection of traditional objects and tools, donated by the people of Marpissa, which were used by the inhabitants of Paros during the last centuries.
The museum is located in a traditional Cycladic house and consists of two exhibition areas. In the first room, tools used in agriculture, animal husbandry and fishing are presented, while in the second room, the daily life of the inhabitants of Paros during the 19th and 20th centuries is presented.
The Folklore Museum of Marpissa offers a unique opportunity to learn more about the life and customs of the people of Paros and to explore their culture.
Historical and Folklore Museum – Collection of Otto Kaparis
The Historical and Folklore Museum Collection of Otto Kaparis, which is located alongside the square of Naoussa, one of the most picturesque settlements of Paros. The museum was founded in 1960 and includes a collection of objects and exhibits that depict the history and culture of Paros.
The collection includes about 5000 objects, such as traditional tools, nautical objects, historical books , pottery, findings from the Mycenaean Acropolis of Koukounaria, clothes, maps, embroidery and jewellery, as well as coins, banknotes and flags. The collection comes from the personal collection of Otto Kaparis, a well-known Parian physician who loved and collected these objects during his lifetime. There is also a wealth of photographic material from Naoussa in the 1950s, which he photographed himself.
The museum is located in an old mansion house and presents a unique opportunity to learn more about the history and culture of Paros. In addition, the museum offers a unique opportunity to explore the culture and heritage of Paros as it also presents a unique collection of traditional costumes of Paros and their embroideries, which are part of the traditional heritage of the island. Finally, the museum organizes many exhibitions and events throughout the year.
Ancient Cemetery of Parikia
The Ancient Cemetery of Paroikia is located in the southeastern part of Paros, near the port, almost on the coastal road and is one of the most important archaeological sites of the island. This site was in use from the Late Bronze Age to the Hellenistic period (end of the 8th BC to the 3rd AD) and has been excavated since 1983 by the Greek-French archaeological school.
Many tombs belonging to different periods have been discovered at this site and many of them are fully preserved and are open to visit. Many treasures have been found in these tombs, such as ceramic objects, jewellery and tools, as well as human and animal remains. The most important find is a polyandrium (group tomb), unique in the Aegean area, dating to the end of the Geometric period (8th century BC) with a huge tombstone in front of it. The children’s cemetery is also interesting, where many children’s remains have been discovered.
Today the site is an archaeological park, while in the exhibition hall next to the cemetery visitors can admire the interesting finds and photographs from past and recent excavations.
The Mycenaean Acropolis in Koukounaries Naoussa
The Mycenaean Acropolis at Koukounaries is located near Naoussa on Paros. It is one of the most important archaeological sites of Paros and was excavated by the archaeologist Konstantinos Koundouros during the 1980s.
After 1200 BC, a settlement, fortified with cyclopean walls and a palace, was founded on Koukounaries hill of Naoussa, which was destroyed by fire after an attack and siege and abandoned. The acropolis consists of two main structures: the entrance gate and the circular building, which date back to the Mycenaean period (1600 BC – 1100 BC). The circular building is one of the most remarkable buildings of the Mycenaean period in the Aegean. There was undoubtedly a dome at the top of the building , but it has been completely destroyed. A part of the settlement was inhabited again in 1100 BC for a short period of time. A new city flourished during the Geometric period (10th-8th centuries BC), when a temple of the goddess Athena was built.
Old Christian Basilica of Parikia
The Old Christian Basilica in Parikia of Paros is one of the most important historical monuments of the island. It is an ancient Orthodox church dating back to 525 – 550 AD and is one of the oldest Christian churches in Greece.
The basilica was originally a primitive church with a hall and an arch, and was subsequently enlarged and renovated many times. Today we find three 17th century churches built on the ruins of a large early Christian three-aisled basilica. Most of the frescoes of the basilica have been lost, but it is worth noting that two ancient inscriptions are still to be found inside, referring to the renovation of the church and its builder, the priest Pavlinos.
The Paleochristian Basilica is located in the area of Parikia, on a steep slope facing the sea. The area around the basilica has been excavated by archaeologists, and several archaeological finds have been found. Many of the marbles used for this early Christian temple came from the ruins of ancient temples and other buildings.
Asclepieion of Parikia
Asclepieion is an archaeological site in Parikia, in the southeastern part of the island of Paros. It is a temple dedicated to the god of medicine, Asclepius, which served as a medical clinic for patients treated by the doctors of the time.
This historical monument dates back to the 4th century BC and was discovered during excavations carried out in the 1970s. Although the findings from the excavation are limited, the architecture of the building gives an idea of what the space used by the physicians to treat patients was like. The temple on its narrow side had galleries while worship took place at an altar in the middle of the open temple. Traces of another temple, dedicated to Apollo of Pythia, were discovered there.
The excavation highlights this important building and is an important tourist attraction in the area.
Ancient Quarries in Marathi
The Ancient Quarries of Marathi are located on the southeastern side of the island, near the village of Marathi. It is an important archaeological monument of Paros, as the area was one of the most important quarrying sites of Ancient Greece. The famous Parian marble or ‘lychnite’ was extracted from this area. The name is due to the fact that the extraction process was carried out through deep galleries under the light of lamps.
The quarries were in operation since the 6th century BC and were used for the extraction of marble. The transparent marble material of Paros was of excellent quality and was used in various constructions in Ancient Greece, such as the Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens. The quarries were established from the Early Cycladic period and their operation ceased in the 19th century. The ancient quarry at Marathi on Paros is one of the only underground quarries in the world, from which lychnite was extracted, while the ‘white stone’ was extracted from the open-air quarries in the same area.
Today, the visitor can see the remains of the ancient quarries, as well as the tools used to extract the marble, the corridors, galleries and the inscriptions of the ancient artists.