Kouros of Apollonas – Naxos, Greece - Atlas Obscura

Kouros of Apollonas

Naxos, Greece

This ancient statue of Dionysus lies unfinished and abandoned in one of Greece's oldest quarries. 


While driving to the small village of Apollonas on the island of Naxos, you’ll be rewarded with dazzling seaside mountain views of the sea. Once you get to the village, take a walk up a short hill and you’ll find an archaeological treasure lying within one of Greece’s oldest quarries.

There, a 35-foot-long (10.7-meter-long) marble statue of Dionysus waits in stillness, just as it has for thousands of years. The enormous, unfinished depiction of the god of wine weighs more than 88 tons (80 metric tons) and dates from between the seventh and sixth centuries BC.

The statue is a kouros, a type of free-standing statue of a naked young man that dates to the Archaic period of Ancient Greece. It was originally believed to pay homage to Apollo until the 1930s, when archaeologists noticed its beard and realized the figure was actually Dionysus.

It’s made of rough-hewn marble and is unfinished, cracked, and abandoned, but you can still see hints of the carvers’ handiwork. You can easily make out the shape of the body, head, beard, and ears. If you look closely, you can even see the holes left behind by the sculptors’ chisels, pickaxes, and hammers.

There are various theories floating around as to why the colossal kouros was never finished. The most plausible and well-regarded one is that it was too heavy to transport.

Know Before You Go

Look for the brown historical signs on the side of the road before arriving to the village and pull your car carefully off the road. The curb/edge of the road is very deep, so be careful if you are in a small car as you will damage your undercarriage. If you're lucky, you'll see wildflowers along the path.

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October 18, 2018

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