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PAROS is one of the top destinations in the Cyclades and one of the most cosmopolitan islands in Greece.

It is a Cycladic island in every sense: it is almost bare, it is windswept, it is dotted with whitewashed buildings, and it is cosmopolitan. On the other hand, contrary to Mykonos, it supports some agriculture and it is favored by more families that its northeastern neighbor. Paros was an important place during the antiquity, mainly because of its marble quarries that produce, to this day, som>e of the best transluscent white marble in the world. The island played a role during the Persian Wars of 490 and 480 BC and produced some notable poets and artists of that era. After that, it followed the historical fate of the rest of the Aegean. Paroikia, on the west coast, is Paros' capital and biggest city. A natural harbor, Parikia is the home of one of the most important churches in Greece, the Panagia Ekatontapyliani (Our Lady of the 100 Gates). The church was first built in the 4th century by Helen, the sanctified mother of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great who moved the Empire's capital from Rome to Byzantium and renamed it Constantinople. Helen funded the excavations in Jerusalem that unearthed the Holy Cross and the Tomb of Jesus. The church was rebuilt in the 6th century by Ignatios, a disciple of one of the architects of the magnificent Agia Sofia basilica in Constantinople. Today, it is one of the major religious sites of the country and the site of a major celebration on August 15, the day of the Assumption of the Virgin, and a major holiday in Greece. Naoussa, northeast of Parikia, is the island's social hub, especially in the summer. The small fishing village with the pretty harbor has been turned into a major cosmopolitan destination in the last 25 years and it is filled with trendy bars, clubs and restaurants. The place fills up with beautiful people at night, and the partying lasts until the wee hours of the morning. Kolymbithres beach, just west of Naoussa, is one of the most interesting beaches in the Cyclades; it's name says it all: Greek for "water cisterns". The east coast of Paros is beach country, centered around Pisso Livadi, in the middle of the coast. Pounta, to the south, is a major youth magnet, with a huge all-day beach club that features swimming pools, bangee-jumping and other activities. Tserdakia, the next beach to the south, is the venue for the annual international professional windsurfing championships. That's how windy it gets here in July and August.

The south side of Paros is quieter and more picturesque. The inland plains are fertile and covered with vineyards and wheat fields. Paros produces some quantities of dry white wine that can be quite good and resembles the dry whites of Santorini.


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