One of the most important sanctuaries of ancient Naxos, dedicated to the god Dionysus and possibly a female deity of nature, was operated at Yria, south of Naxos town and in the middle of the fertile valley of Livadi, between the 14th century BC (Mycenean era) and the Roman period.
Worship was conducted outdoors up until the Middle Geometric period (850-750 BC), when four sequential buildings were constructed with the same orientation.
These were designed to serve the permanent and growing needs of the faithful in an area whose swampy geomorphology presented particular difficulties.
The last of all buildings at the site, a monumental temple constructed around 580 BC (Archaic period), has been restored in the framework of a joint research program involving the University of Athens and Technical University Munich.
The Yria temples on Naxos provide unique and full evidence of the birth of Greek marble island architecture.
This temple was converted into a Christian basilica in the 5th or 6th century AD. Frequent floods, however, caused it to be abandoned and worship was transferred to the neighboring church of Agios Georgios.
The complex included a restaurant for the faithful. Its initial construction phase dates to the early Archaic period and it was replaced by larger buildings during the Classical and Roman periods.
A limited sample of the movable finds found after a long excavation in the area is exhibited in the building of the Museum Collection.
Vassilis K. Lamprinoudakis