One of the oldest villages of the island, located just 8 km from the port of Naxos, Melanes is built in amphitheatric fashion on the slope of a hill overlooking a fertile valley of the same name.
According to mythology, the name of the village (which refers to the black colour) is derived from the locals’ mourning the killing of the two semi-god giant brothers Otos and Ephialtes, sons of Apollon, who were thus punished by the god Zeus for displaying arrogance. Another version insists that the name is due to the dark colour of the soil in the valley.
Melanes has around 400 permanent residents, mostly farmers, many who are renowned as skilled masons.
The church of the village is dedicated to Agii Apostoli and celebrates annually on June 29th with a big festival (panagiri) that lasts three days featuring live traditional music, dancing, local treats and wine. Visitors are welcome to join the festivities.
The greater Melanes area hosts some of the island’s most important antiquities: the entry point of the ancient Naxos aqueduct which supplied the city with water from the area, and the ancient sanctuary of the water springs was found at in Flerio. In addition, the giant abandoned statue of Kouros of the 6th century BC, lies in the ancient marble quarry a short distance outside the village.
Other sights worth seeing are the summer home of the Jesuit monks at Kalamitsia, a well-preserved medieval palace dating back to about 1680 AD, and the olive mill at Demari.
The village of Melanes has two traditional cafes and two tavernas renowned for their delicious dishes, particularly their signature dish of rooster slow-cooked in wine!
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