Emboreio, Perissa and Vlychada
As soon as the road south from Chora crosses the ridge above the new port of Athinios, the south of the island spreads out below; a patchwork of fields which are stippled with a pointillism of green against a pale background. These are the vine yards of Santorini, which are unique in their method of cultivation: each green dot is an individual vine, which is never husbanded in order to create the usual contiguous lines stand above the ground, but is instead wound round and round upon itself, and kept as low as possible to the ground so as to remain undamaged by the strong winds. Santorini had no particular tradition of viticulture in antiquity that we know of, but since the 16th century has produced wine on a large scale.
Five kilometres from Chora the road reaches Megalochori (5km), the centre of the island’s wine production. It is a pleas ant village, relatively unvisited, with several fine neoclassical mansions. From the village centre a path leads (southwest, past the Hotel Artemis) to Thermi, a point far below on the shore of the caldera where there are natural hot springs. The path here gains the rim of the caldera, descends past the church of Aghios Nikolaos, cut into the cliff, and eventually arrives at a building made of a series of vaulted chambers. Down the steps beyond, at the shore, the springs rise in a small improvised cabin at c. 35Β°C.
Beyond Megalochori, the road turns east and heads for the south coast at Perissa. To the left-hand side of the road, level with the village boundary sign of Emboreio, is the curious chapel of Aghios Nikolaos Marmaritis– (key held in the adjacent house), which is in effect an exceptionally well preserved marble shrine or temple of the 3rd century bc, dedicated, according to an inscription still in situ, to the goddess Basileia. This is an unusual place to find such a building; its size suggests that it may have functioned also as a family tomb.
The beautifully cut and laid, silver-grey limestone slabs of the walls have been partially cemented and re-pointed, but otherwise the building is a whole, ancient structure, complete with its marble roof supported by the original monolithic stone beams. The dimensions are diminutive (4.20m by 3.60m), with a dignified door frame in the south wall, and a small aedicule or niche on the inside of the north wall, framed by carved Ionic pilasters and a Doric entablature and pediment. The dedicatory inscription is engraved below. Basileia is a curious divinity, whose cult is associated with that of Cybele, the Phrygian mother goddess: she was the daughter of Uranus and Titaia, she married Hyperion (her broth er), and was mother to Selene and Helios. Her cult became popular in the Hellenistic period which was characterised by a restless search for new and ambiguous divinities, many of foreign origin.
Visible on the hill east of Aghios Nikolaos Marmaritis are the ruins of a four-square, Venetian pyrgos, known as a ‘Goulas’ (from the Turkish kule, a tower). The design, which would suggest a construction date of the late 16th century, is similar to those found on naxos, except that here, the heavy buttressing in the form of a pronounced talus is strongly reminiscent of the Monastery of St John on Patmos and of its dependency on Naxos , the Monastery of Christos Fotodoti. The connection is further emphasised by the tradition that the tower had a chapel in side dedicated to the Blessed Christodoulos who founded St John on Patmos, and that it was at one time inhabited by Patmian monks. It was built as a fortified residence probably by the Venetian, d’Argenta family.
Santorini Island is part of the Cyclades Island Group, Greece.