Athens may think it has the acropolis par excellence, but Paros has its own little Mycenaean acropolis, at Koukounaries near Naousa, where you won’t rub shoulders with many fellow classicists. This is a splendid site. It lies on top of a lonely hill that is peppered with huge granite boulders and slabs that have weathered into shapes of which Dali would have been proud.
There is nothing scraped or polished about the Koukounaries acropolis; no conserved pillars and walls; no Erechtheion; no Caryatids; no crowds of sightseers either. The hilltop is a tangled mass of low-lying plants and shrubs; juniper, heather, broom, and lank grass, all embroidered with sage and oregano and startling bursts of cyclamen. They overwhelm, at first sight, the vestigial walls and crumbling stonework of the acropolis.
The settlement dates from the Late Bronze Age to the 12th century BC and is thought to have been a quasi-defensive site during a fairly unsettled period in the Aegean. Over 35,000 fragments of broken pottery were excavated from Koukounaries during the 1970s.
Signs point the way from the main Naousa road to parking at the base of the hill. Beyond here are satisfyingly uncharted slopes of shattered rock. Careful footwork is needed while scrambling up the initial slabs, which are seamed and polished by water. At the top of the slabs you bear right towards a distinctive curved pillar just below the skyline. From here goat paths ramble to the crown of the hill and the scattered roots of buildings,unadorned and serene. Views across the Parian hills end, as always, at the shining sea.