In the Stone Age the archaeological finds attest to the existence of a developed society as early as the fourth millennium B.C.; Naxos has been inhabited continuously since.
In the Bronze Age (3200-1100 B.C.), Naxos is a strong presence in the Aegean during the third millennium B.C. as it emerges as an important center of the so-called Cycladic culture. Excavation finds from this period are exhibited at the Archaeological Museum of Naxos in Hora and the archaeological museum of Apeiranthos.
At the dawn of the second millennium B.C., the Minoans are the dominant maritime power in the Aegean, and later control of the seas passes to the Mycenaeans. The centers of power shift to the Mycenaean centers on the Greek mainland which use the Cyclades as bridges in their expansion to the east. One section of the Mycenaean capital of Naxos (1300 B.C.) was uncovered beneath the square of the cathedral in Hora at the archaeological site of Grotta.
In the Geometric era (1100-700 B.C.), Naxos is colonized by the Ionians, and their arrival marks the start of a period of tremendous growth.
In the Archaic era (700-480 B.C.), the island reaches its peach in the seventh and sixth centuries B.C., a period during which the arts-especially sculpture and architecture-flourish thanks, in part, to the abundance of marble on the island. Typical of the island's sculptures are the two larger-than-life, half-completed kouroi founded at Melanes and Apollonas. Excavations have also unearthed important works from this period, notably the temple of Yria, south of Hora at Livadi, and the sanctuary of Yiroula near Sagri. The temple of Apollo, or Portara on Palataki islet at the port's edge, also dates from this period. In 490 B.C., Naxos is destroyed by the Persians.
In the Classical era (480-323 B.C.), following the Persians' defeat, Naxos becomes a member of the Athenian League.
In the Hellenistic era (323-41 B.C.), one of the island's most important monuments, the Himarros tower, dates from this period. The tower is located near the village of Filoti; another ancient tower is Palaiopyrgos, located between Tripodes and Plaka beach.
In the Roman era (41 B.C.-A.D. 330), Naxos becomes a Roman province and is used as a place of exile.
In the Byzantine era (330-1207), the advent of Christianity in the fourth century leads to the construction of many churches over ancient temples. Today, there are more than 500 churches on the island. Panayia Drosiani near Moni and Panayia Protothroni near Halki are two important monuments of the Early Christian period. The fortified monastery of Fotodotis Christos on the outskirts of Danakis also dates from this period. The Byzantines also built castles or fortifications on the island. One example is the Kalogeros Kastro which is built atop a low but inaccessible hill on the island's northern end. Apano Kastro is located west of the Tragea plain. The Apalirou Castle in the central Naxos is built atop a sheer slope; the island's Byzantine capital was located at its foothills.
In the Venetian rule (1207-1537), in 1207, Marco Sanudo lands with his men at Ayiassos and after a siege conquers the island. He subsequently conquers 18 more islands in the Aegean, then founds the Duchy of Naxos, with the island as its seat, and creates a small feud. The capital is moved from Apaliros to Hora, whose hill forms a natural acropolis. On this site, Sanudo built Hora's fortified castle using materials from the ancient city. The island's rulers built their towers around and outside it for protection or for summer housing. There are also a number of more recent towers on the island's northern coast, such as the Ayia Pyrgos which dates from the 17th century but was destroyed by fire, and the fortified monastery of Panayia Ypsilotera on the outskirts of the village of Galini.
In the Turkish rule (1537-1829), Naxos remained under the Turkish yoke until 1829 when it joined the modern Greek state.
In the Modern times, the emery mines on the island's eastern section, along the road to Liona, are one of the island's modern monuments. Today, the island's farm products provide it with economic self-sufficiency. Tourism has been developed since the 1980s.
The island is diamond-shaped. To the east a mountain range cuts across it. Streams flowing from this mountainous area course across the island in all directions.
Among its tallest mountains are Zas (at 1004m - the highest mountain in the Cyclades), Fanari (903 m) and Koronos (992 m). On the eastern side of the mountain range there are deep gorges and small cultivated valleys. In the centre of Naxos is the plain of Tragea, bursting with all kinds of tress. On the western side there are lush green valleys watered from the springs.