Kynidaros

Kynidaros was a community until 1998 that later became a settlement (local department) of Naxos municipality and it finally ended up to be a municipal community of Naxos and Small Cyclades municipality. It is located in the central and north-western part of the island at an altitude of 415,00m. It is amphitheatrically built with a view to the noonday between the School (1936) of the settlement - which is surrounded by a coppice of pine trees (1970) and which is built on the highest part of the village in a specially formed artificial terrace – and the parish church of Agios Georgios (“Saint George” in 1842) located in the lowest part of the island respectively which adjoins the cemetery of the village from its south-eastern side located a little bit higher from a picturesque ravine with plane trees, oleanders and willows.
 
The village’s picture is framed by the ridge of Koronos Mountain to the north-east while a forest of oaks called “Dryades” near the eastern way out of the village and the valley of “Chalandra” in the northern side compose the two most important sources of vegetation in the settlement. Kynidaros has about 250 houses, many of which are summer residences, while it has 400 permanent residents.
 
The residents deal with agriculture, livestock farming, construction industry, commerce  and manifacturing while they still conserve with great respect the village’s rich music and dancing tradition.
 
Kynidaros is the birthplace of the founders of the great music tradition of the island such as Georgios Konitopoulos (nickname: Poulogiorgis) and his sons, Michalis (Moros) and Nickolaos (Nikolis) who were brilliant violin players and the gifted dulcimer player, Florios. The children of Michalis, Georgios, Irini, Kostas, Aggeliki and Vaggelis compose the renowned Konitopoulos Family who made the island’s music known all over Greece. Apart from their music tradition, which continues to exist with an unflagging intensity until now with lots of excellent violin players such as Stathis Koukoularis and lute players such as Antonis Konitopoulos the residents of Kynidaros are also considered to be great dancers and lovers of feasts and entertainment.
 
Another basic financial activity as well as a landmark of the village’s geomorphology in the western way out of the village is the mining of mostly white marble of good quality, which offers prosperity to the settlement though it gradually and steadily spoils the natural environment. The history of the village starts back to the archaic times according to inscriptions found in “Perganti” and “Nyfiotissa” and many archaeological finds from Douma’s excavations in the region of Akrotiri which belongs to the wider area of Kynidaros.
 
Proof of the village’s presence during the Byzantine times are the important Byzantine monuments of the village, such as the church of Agios Dimitrios in the region of Chalandra ( 9th century), while in the middle and last Byzantine period it is possible to had been built the churches of Agia Irini (near the village), Holy Cross in the region of Lefkes, Holy Spirit, Prophet Ilias in Akrotiri and Saint John (“Agios Ioannis”) on the way to the parish church of Saint George (“Agios Georgios”).
 
This village is called Kynidaros (or Kinidaros) at least since 1539 as there is a legal document published at 9th March of that year mentioning the village that way. In fact, we are unaware of the etymological base of the village’s name. However, oficially derives from the word KNIDA => KiNIDAros while a local legend says that the village was called that way because it was a place for hunting (in Greek hunting is called “kynigi”).
 
During the rule of Franks (1207-1566) and after its definite overthrow by the Ottomans (1566) until 1819 the residents of Kynidaros, like the residents of many other villages, were obliged to pay a fee called “Edrities”, which was equivalent to the one third of their income, to the descendants of Frank lords. We know through documents that in 1670 the Frank lord who used to collect the fee mentioned above from the residents of Kynidaros was called Chrysis Koronelos.
 
During the Ottoman rule, the Ottoman presence wasn’t strong on the island. However, there are documents referred to the administration of justice. It is certain though, according to the content of several documents of the 17th and mostly of the 18th and 19th centuries, that in the village there was local self-government with the local Orthodox Church being in charge since the time to time parish priest was also the village’s notary. Basically, it is about the ancestors of the Levitical Klouvatos family who previously used to staff the village of Kynidaros with priests.
 
The most important thing of the Ottoman rule times was the foundation of Naxos School (1775), built by the Metropolitan Bishop of Paros and Naxos, Anthimos, an officer of the Turkish fleet called Nikolaos Mavrogenis who came from Paros, the Lord of the Orthodox villagers, Markakis Politis, and the Community of Chorion, which was housed into the magnificent three-aisled basilica of Saint Artemios (1780) in the region of Chalandra. In this school also taught the Teacher of the Nation, Chrysanthos o Aitolos, brother of the martyr and apostle Saint Cosmas Aitolos. This monument, which is one of the most important of Naxos, is easily accessible after a 10-minute walk through the valley of Chalandra, where you can also admire a stone bridge built in 1898 and the seven watermills of the village constructed during the Ottoman rule, as well.
 
During the Ottoman rule, several churches of the village were constructed, such as the older parish church of Saint George (located in the place of the above mentioned current church, built according to documents definitely before 1794), the church of Saint Paraskevi in the smaller square of the village called “Platsaki” and probably the church of Saint Kyriaki located in the homonymous place near the Birth church. After liberation the rest churches of the village were built, such as Saint Nikolaos (1919) located right opposite to the village (next to an homonymous probably byzantine church in ruins), the church of Saint Sophia in the region of Akrotiri (1892), the church of Saint Stylianos (1997) and the church of Saint Anna (1998).
 
The residents of Kynidaros are basically indigenous whose origins come back from the Byzantine times, though there are definitely descendants of settlers from many different places of Greece among the residents who, after leaving their birthplace, found a warm hug in the hospitable village of Kynidaros.
 
So, we have Cretans as the Cretan surnames reveal, which continue to exist in Kynidaros until now (Antonakis, Liadakis, Kapetanakis, Gerontakis e.t.c). There are even descendants of the second-in-command hero and martyr who came from the village of Sfakia (1771), Manousos Koutsoupas. There are also settlers from the Peloponnese (Tsakoniatis), the Ionian Islands (Tselentis), Mytilene (Mytilinaios) and the nearby island Paros (Chaniotis, Skiadas, Roussos e.t.c.).

Written by Konstantinos Toubakaris
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