Filoti is the largest village on Naxos and after Chora has the most permanent residents on the island. The village is a perfect destination for a vacation with many choices for accommodation, restaurants, cafes and folk art shops. Interestingly, the name Filoti is believed to be of Ionian origin.
Considered one of the most beautiful villages of the island, Filoti is situated in the Tragea region and is well-known for its olive groves and little Byzantine churches. It is actually comprised of three smaller settlements Liiri, Klefaro and Rachidi, and the population totals about 1 800 which make it the largest village in numbers on Naxos.
It is a traditional Cycladic village built amphitheatrically on the slopes of mount Zas with breathtaking views of the mountains, whitewashed flat roofed houses and narrow, heavily flowered streets. The locals use their roofs as balconies or terraces during the warm summer months. The main street is the centre of village life in terms of cafés and restaurants. The little paved square named Gefyra (Greek – bridge) is surrounded by picturesque “kafenia” (Greek traditional cafes) serving ouzo and meze (snacks), and a number of taverns and retail outlets, all shadowed by a huge majestic plane tree.
Left of the square a stone-paved road leads to the village’s two neighbourhoods, Liiri and Klefaro, and the church Panagia (Virgin Mary) Filotitissa. A little further down the road the Barozzi Tower is a striking remnant of the island’s lengthy period of Venetian rule. Next to the tower a marble wall with an inset marble tap has constantly running spring water bearing an inscription dating back to King Otto (Greek – Othon) who reigned from 1832 to 1862. He was the first king imposed on modern Greece (Post Hellenic Revolution) and was of Bavarian descent. Rachidi, the village’s other main neighbourhood is uphill, south of the tower.
Cultural venues include the ancient-styled sports stadium and adjoining entertainment theatre, the war-heroes’ cenotaph and the Filoti Cultural Association Centre which houses a library, cinema and a reading club. If perchance the doors are open, Filoti has outstanding old churches all worth exploring for their frescoes. The Greek Numismatic Collection Museum of Nikolas Moustakis is worth a visit and is housed in an older well maintained building.
Interesting sights in Filoti’s surrounding area include the fountain of Arion on Zas mountain’s slope, the Zas cave where Zeus was raised, Chimarros tower on the road to Kalandos, as well as numerous Byzantine chapels with original frescoes.
The village also hosts the island’s biggest traditional festival – a three-day ‘pangiri’ starting on the 15th of August each year with dancing to the sounds of local violins, and coinciding with the Church of Panagia Filotitissa which honours the Assumption of the Virgin.
Roughly 60 000 sheep are reared in this area and Filoti is renowned for the excellent quality of its livestock products, such as lamb and goats meat’ and a wide variety of cheese products (anthotyro, arseniko, kefalotyri, myzithra and xinotyro), while a cooperative of local women produce and sell homemade sweet preserves (Greek – Glyka koutaliou). Don’t leave without sampling their delicious cuisine.
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