Central and Southwestern Naxos
FOUR ITINERARIES: see map (Chora = 0.0km for dis tances in text.)
Nearly four kilometres from the harbour of Chora, a left branch off the Potamia/Chalki road, heads east for Melanes: in the ‘V’ of the junction is the 13th century church of Aghios Isidoros (A), a barrel-vaulted structure with blind arcades in the interior. The building incorporates marble spolia from an ancient building, visible in the south and west walls, and is decorated extensively with 14th century paintings. The fine overall effect of the paintings exceeds the general quality of the workman ship, even though there are faces of occasionally great beauty. Two kilometres west of here (by immediate left branch) beyond the village of Angidia, north of the road is the site of the Early Christian basilica of Aghios Stefanos Fraron, within which a later 11th century church was built. All that remains standing are fluted columns of the structure, believed to have been taken from the Temple of Hestia on Paros.
Taking the main (right-hand) continuation of the road, you come to Melanes (8km). The church of *Aghios Giorgios Melanon (B), beautifully set by a stream in the depth of the valley appears to have been built over a Late Roman structure, and the adjoining chapel on the north side converted from an ancient cistern. A beautifully in scribed fragment of cornice is immured in the exterior of the south wall. There are several layers of painting on the vault and on the north and south walls of the interior: some fragmentary graffiti-like designs dating from pre-iconoclastic times; other aniconic designs; and later 12th and 13th century layers, including a fine Pantocrator whose face has the dignity and presence of a Constantinopolitan icon. A faint Early Byzantine inscription on the north wall is the invocation of a certain ‘John of Melanes’.
At Kalamisia, 2km west of Melanes by unpaved track, are the atmospheric ruins of the *18th century palatial mansion of Paratrechos, used as a retreat by the Jesu its. The large complex of residences, chapels, byres and out-buildings are set in utter tranquillity among lush vegetation and palm-trees watered by springs. In the lowest level of the main building is the former mill-installation. The site is unexpected and beautiful—with something of the feel of an abandoned stage-set. The track descends to the main Potamia road beyond the ruins.
Naxos Island is part of the Cyclades Island Group, Greece.