The Ancient Cemetery
If you face Parikia's harborside windmill then turn and walk to your right, in about 15 minutes you will come to the ancient cemetery. If you want to go there from the Archaeological Museum, walk downhill to the sea, turn right, and you'll soon be there. Excavations since the 1980s have revealed much about the island's history between 11th century B.C. and the Roman period. Many of the graves contained the bones and weapons of warriors, often buried in ceramic jars and marble urns, some of which are on view at the Archaeological Museum. The cemetery, which still has a number of marble tombs, is sometimes illuminated at night. If you want to have a drink or meal and contemplate mortality, try the excellent harborside Porphyra Seafood Restaurant (tel. 22840/23-410), which overlooks the cemetery.
Murder in the Cathedral
As you visit the Panagia Ekatondapiliani Cathedral, look for the two squat sculptured figures that support the columns of the monumental gate by the chapel of St. Theodosia, to the left of the main cathedral entrance. According to popular legend, the two figures are Isidore of Miletus, the best-known architect here, and his pupil Ignatius. As the story has it, Isodore was so envious of Ignatius's talent that he pushed him off scaffolding high inside the church's dome. As he fell, Ignatius grabbed onto Isidore and they both tumbled to their deaths. The sculptor has shown Isidore pulling on his beard (evidently a sign of apology) and Ignatius rubbing his head -- perhaps in pain, perhaps as he cogitates on revenge. It's a nice story, but, in fact archaeologists think that the two figures come from a temple of Dionysos that stood here and represent two satyrs -- yet another example of how often successive generations reused building materials and re-created appropriate legends.
Studio Detour in Kostos
En route to or from Marathi, consider a detour to the nearby Studio Yria (tel. 22840/29-007;www.yriaparos.com), signposted by the village of Kostos. A number of artists, including sculptors, painters, and potters, have set up shop here, and their wares are impressive. Many works draw on traditional Byzantine and island designs, whereas others are modern.
A Semester Abroad in Paros
The Aegean Center for the Fine Arts (www.aegeancenter.org) offers courses in painting, photography, music, creative writing, and other artistic endeavors, including two 3-month sessions. You'll see the mostly teen and 20-something students all over Parikia and out on the island.
Towns & Villages: Naoussa & Lefkes
If your time on Paros is limited, do try to see Naoussa and Lefkes. If you have more time, you'll enjoy rambling about the island discovering other villages. One to keep in mind is Marpissa and the nearby monastery of Agios Antonios, from which there are fine views over the island.
Until recently, the fishing village of Naoussa remained relatively undisturbed, with simple white houses in a labyrinth of narrow streets, but it's now a growing resort center with increasingly fancy restaurants, trendy bars, boutiques, and galleries. Most of the new building here is concentrated along the nearby beaches, but a multiplicity of boutiques and restaurants has infiltrated deep into Naoussa. Some of the shops are just great, with gorgeous summer togs, but if you want to get a sense of the village itself, walk inland and uphill until you get lost in the winding streets. Then, wander your way back to the harbor after seeing some of the charming houses and little tourist-shop-free squares Naoussa still has. In short, Naoussa retains its charm -- but for how long? Local fishing boats jostle for space beside visiting yachts, and fishermen calmly go about their work on the docks, all in the shadow of a half-submerged ruined Venetian minifortress -- and, increasingly, tour buses. A narrow causeway links the Venetian fortress with the quay; the little kastro is picturesque when illuminated at night. The best night of all to see the fortress is during the festival held on or about each August 23, when the battle against the pirate Barbarossa is reenacted by torch-lit boats converging on the harbor. Much feasting and dancing follows. On July 2, the Festival of Fish and Wine is celebrated here and elsewhere on Paros.
There's frequent bus service from Parikia to Naoussa in summer. Signs along Naoussa's harbor advertise caique service to nearby beaches. Daily excursion tours from Naoussa to Mykonos are usually offered in summer; inquire at any of the travel agencies in Parikia, or here at any local travel agency, such as Nissiotissa Tours (tel. 22840/51-480; fax 22840/51-189).
Hilltop Lefkes is the medieval capital of the island. Its whitewashed houses with red-tile roofs form a maze around the central square, with its little kafeneion (coffeehouse) with its unexpectedly grand neoclassical facade. The kafeneion; a barbershop; a shop selling crafts; and a plateia, paved with stone slabs accented with fresh whitewash -- this is surely the most perfect little plateia in the Cyclades, unless the plateia in Pyrgos on Tinos has a slight edge because of its fountain house. Like so many Cycladic hamlets, Lefkes was built in an inaccessible location and with an intentionally confusing pattern of streets to thwart pirates. Test your own powers of navigation by finding Ayia Triada (Holy Trinity) Church, whose carved marble towers are visible above the town. The Lefkes Village Hotel is one of the nicest places on the island to stay, although it's not easy to get a room there on summer weekends, when it is very popular with Greek families for wedding receptions.
The Cave of Andiparos
Not long ago people went to Andiparos, the islet about a nautical mile (1.9km) off Paros, for two reasons: to see the famous cave and to get away from all the crowds on Paros. The cave is still a good reason to come here, but Andiparos is now on the tourist map. Tom Cruise cruised by here, other stars followed in their yachts, Madonna dropped in by helicopter, and the wannabes began to come by ferry. There's been a lot of charmless building to accommodate visitors, and it's hard to think of a reason to linger after you see the cave. Parikia and Naoussa eclipse Andiparos for people-watching, window-shopping, and good food.
The cave (4€) is open in summer from 11am to 3pm; excursion caiques run hourly from 9am from Parikia and Pounda to Andiparos (3€ one-way). A shuttle barge, for vehicles as well as passengers, crosses the channel between Paros's southern port of Pounda and Andiparos continuously from 9am; the fare is 2€ or 10€ with a car; you can take along a bicycle for free. Buses (1.50€) run back and forth from the port to the cave. Something to consider: Greeks have a soft spot for caves, and the Andiparos cave is often as crowded as an Athens bus.
Tourists once entered the cave by rope, but today's concrete staircase offers more convenient -- if less adventurous -- access. The cave is about 90m (300 ft.) deep, but the farthest reaches are closed to visitors. Through the centuries, visitors have broken off parts of the massive stalactites as souvenirs and left graffiti to commemorate their visits, but the cool, mysterious cavern is still worth exploring. As usual, Lord Byron, who carved his name into a temple column at Sounion, left his signature here. The Marquis de Nointel celebrated Christmas mass here in 1673 with 500 attendants; a large stalagmite served as the altar and the service was concluded with fireworks and explosions at the stroke of midnight.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.