Megalochori is one of the lesser-known but most beautiful villages in Santorini. Covering an extensive area of open countryside and rugged coastline, a patchwork landscape of vineyards jostles for attention side by side with the ever-spectacular sunset and caldera cliffs. The village is barely visible from the main road. Secluded in a valley, the best way to explore old Megalochori is on foot. Indeed, pathways are so narrow that only the most experienced Megalochorians can navigate the village with wheels.
Neoclassical mansions, formerly owned by wealthy landowners and wine merchants, cave houses and traditional dwellings, populate a myriad of winding paths, most of which arrive in the main square. Once a target of marauding pirates, inhabitants built their walls high and their doors strong. Hanging bougainvillea, a fiesta of purple, scarlet and pink, peeps over wooden gates and shutters. An occasional chirrup of cicadas interrupts in the deafening quiet, whilst all around, bell towers of the many churches chime in unison.
The square is where everyone meets, for a game of tavli (backgammon), a coffee or a meal. Small shops offer day-to-day necessities and local handicrafts. Within the village are Gavalas Winery for wine tasting and the atmospheric Alisachni Wine Bar - Restaurant.
Vacationing in Megalochori has many advantages; relatively unspoilt, it exudes authenticity and the slow pace of island life. Proximity to nearby explorations adds to the attraction. Situated on the main road, the Myth of Atlantis is an extraordinary interactive 360° 9G experience with VR glasses.
A few minutes away, a visit to old-world Emporio is to step back in time. A 15th-century castle and the Tower of Nimborio or 'Goulas' dominate the hillside. As with all fortified settlements on the island, there was one entrance, standing until today - the 'Porta'. Outside, the church of Agia Theodosia protected the castle from invaders. The inner sanctum is a gorgeous maze of alleyways, steps and arches. And the Goulas, a watchtower and last bastion of refuge, connected to the castle through a secret tunnel. Emporio Castle is the best preserved of the five Venetian strongholds in Santorini.
Contrary to common misconception, the Tower of Nimborio was not built by the monks of Agios Ioannis Theologos in Patmos. It was, however, a glebe of Patmos used by the monks some time after construction.
The beaches of Perissa, Perivolos and Vlychada are a short drive down the road. Akrotiri village, home to the Minoan Excavations and the Lighthouse is also nearby. The turn-off for Akrotiri is on the right after Megalochori when driving towards the sea.
Emporio, like Megalochori, fell into disrepair after the earthquakes of 1956. During the past few decades, both villages have undergone considerable restoration, thanks to the concentrated efforts of local businesses and enthusiasts.
On the Saturday of Lazarus, the day before Palm Sunday, Megalochori locals organize a great feast in the main square and a tall cross adorned with flowers is erected.Megalochori Map
Parking in Megalochori is available just off the main road near the Family Bakery.
Panagia ton Eisodion
Path to the square