The village of Melanes is about 8km south-east of Chora (Naxos town) on the road to Kinidaros. It is one of Naxos’s most ancient settlements, a mountain style village at an altitude of just 63 meters, built in amphitheatric fashion on the slope of a hill overlooking fertile valley with the same name offering good scenery.
Locals will tell you the village’s name is due to the valley’s dark soil which is good for olive groves and fruit trees. The version supported by mythology, is that the name of the village (which refers to its dark colors), is derived from the ancients mourning the mutual killing of the demi-god brothers, the giants Otos and Ephialtes, who were the sons of Apollo. The myth holds that they were punished by the god Zeus for displaying arrogance.
The village numbers about 450 permanent residents. Most of them have farming as their main source of income, but they are also well known for their skill in stonemasonry.
The main church of Moni is Agii Apostoli (dedicated to the Holy Apostles). The church celebrates annually on the 29th of June, when a big three day feast takes place. During the feast, the locals and the visitors enjoy live traditional folk music with dancing and they have the opportunity to taste local food and wine.
The area around Melanes is of great historic importance as it contains antiquities of great importance.
Beginning with the giant Kouros statue, an abandoned sculpture of the 6th century BC; this can be seen at the ancient marble quarry only a short distance outside the village. There is another Kouros statue measuring 6,4m at a short walking distance from Melanes, located in the area called Flerio. The Kouros has both legs broken and is lying in the ground, shaded by big olive trees. This statue was found at the exact location where it was left in antiquity and archaeologists believe that it represents either a mortal man or the god Dionysus. There is third unfinished Kouros statue near the village of Apollonas. The reasons these statues were left in the ancient times are unknown to date.
Flerio is also the location where the ancient sanctuary of the water springs and the entry point of an ancient Naxian aqueduct have been found. The aqueduct supplied the city with water from the surrounding area.
Scattered around Melanes, there are medieval towers which were used as homes or summer houses by the noblemen during medieval times.
Once in the area, it is a good opportunity to visit the Jesuits’ summer resort at Kalamitsia. Also, do not forget the olive press at Demari.
Melanes has two traditional cafes and two tavernas, both well-reputed for their local delicacies.
The greater Melanes area is a frequent destination for hiking. Several hiking trails start from Naxos town (Chora) and lead to the region passing through some pleasant green valleys, ancient sites and small settlements. The locals are mostly involved with agriculture and cattle-breeding, from which their main source of income derives.
The village is accessed from the provincial road to Potamia. There are public bus connections from Chora from morning till the early afternoon and two parking lots for vehicles.