Marble carving in Naxos, Greece
What is one of the first things that comes to mind when you think of ancient Greece? There is a good chance is the large number of incredible marble monuments and sculptures that the country of Greece has bestowed to the world. Being the first Greek island to work with marble, Naxos led the way in creating some memorable structures and gave birth to extremely skilled stone carvers. The craftsmen of Naxos were the first to build entire buildings of pure marble. Throughout the island of Naxos, churches and monasteries are filled with marble sculptures that add immensely to their beauty.
How about creating your own masterpiece at a marble workshop while on charter in Greece?
In her breathtaking garden nestled in the valley of the Naxian mountains, Maggie, the owner of the Grimantis Garden, will walk you through the creation of a sculpture from scratch. What a unique experience, using the local material of this island! Your captain will anchor your yacht in the turquoise waters near Naxos beach and the crew will have the tender ready to bring you to shore to meet your private driver for today’s adventure.
The jewel of Naxos, The Portara
Naxos is home to the colossal marble wonder called the Portara, which will be your first stop. You will be able to admire the unfinished temple dedicated to Apollo, the Greek god who protects music and poets. The Portara, or the Great Door, is essentially a massive marble doorway of the temple, that stands proudly as the jewel of Naxos. Legend has it that the islet of Palatia was exactly where Ariadne, the Minoan princess was abandoned by her lover, Theseus after he killed Minotaur on the island of Crete. Around the year 530 BC, when Naxos was at its peak of glory, the then ruler, Lygdamis wanted to build the highest and most magnificent building in all of Greece in Naxos. He ordered for a massive temple to be built, but when war broke out between Naxos and Samos, the work stopped abruptly. After that, Lygdamis was overthrown in 506 BC and the temple, which was supposed to be at least a hundred feet tall, was never completed. Today all that remains of the temple is the Portara.
The village of Apiranthos
On this day dedicated to marble, you cannot miss out on the village of Apiranthos at the foothill of mountain Fanari. While pulling up here, you will instantly understand why this town is also referred to as the Marble Village. Almost everything in this picturesque village is made of marble. You will be able to admire beautiful marble buildings like the Tower of Zevgoli and the Tower of Bardani. The influence of marble on Apiranthos is so great that they even have streets paved with marble tiles. Apiranthos village is by many considered the crown jewel of Naxos. Over the centuries it has managed to retain its unique authenticity which is apparent in every step you take, in every alley you walk and wherever you look. This is not just because of the village and its uniqueness on the landscape of Naxos, but also for its nearly 1100 proud inhabitants who have kept their own distinct dialect where even a slightly trained ear reveals their true Cretan origin. Amphitheatrically built at the slopes of Mount Fanari, it boasts magnificent views of the Naxian mountain ranges. As the locals say, while at Apiranthos, there is no way of telling that you are, in fact, on an island. Have lunch at one of the inviting outdoor restaurants offering mouthwatering dishes prepared with locally sourced produce while overlooking the surrounding peaks and valleys. The altitude offers extraordinary views, so don’t forget to take pictures!
Before you head to the garden, visit the traditional small souvenir and local craftsmanship shops where the women of Apiranthos display their wonderful embroideries to anyone who can appreciate the work effort and pride that is apparent in every stitch. Unique souvenirs to bring home for your loved ones and of course for yourself!
Time to become a sculptor!
Your private driver will bring you to Grimantis Garden, a fully working farm with orange, lemon, olive, apricot, peach, tangerine and banana trees and a beautiful natural swimming pool. On top of that, there is a diversity of fruits, vegetables and flowers growing here. Keep your eyes peeled for the breathtaking orchards! It is in this stunning setting that you will be working on your sculptures, while the chickens, ducks, peacocks, geese and goats roam around freely.
You will be working in the shade of an olive tree where Maggie will have set up work tables, blocks of crystalline white marble of Naxos, and of course your toolsets. You are also free to bring your own piece of marble, maybe you have found a special piece at one of the beaches or sites you have visited earlier while sailing the islands on your yacht! After learning about the history of marble arts, Maggie will introduce you to the different types of tools, and discuss the features of marble. Maggie will guide you through the use and carving technique of each tool. You will practice with each tool on a block of marble and when you have mastered each tool you will proceed to design and create a sculpture that you can then take home with you! It can be an Archaic Greek design from one of the templates available at the garden or any idea that you yourself have brought with you. Maggie will guide you through every step and will work with you on the approach, process, and execution of the piece. While taking her work seriously, she also creates a fun and relaxed environment in the peaceful setting of the garden, making you fresh lemonade and bringing you fruit from the garden and local wine while you work. Time will fly by in this idyllic setting, surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature.
With your masterpieces carefully packed, it is time to say goodbye to your new friend in Greece. On your way back to the yacht you and your loved ones will be able to admire each other’s masterpieces. What a unique way to be a local in Naxos, Greece!
Photo Copyright: naxosmarble.wixsite.com
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