Away from the vigorous rhythm of the cosmopolitan caldera, a different aspect of Santorini lays hidden in the hinterland, where tradition and history merge in quaint villages that seem forgotten and untouched by modern times. One of these villages, probably the prettiest and most picturesque of all is the village of Megalochori, located in the southwest of the island, approximately 10 km from the town of Fira.
Like most villages in the hinterland, it was designed to withstand pirate attacks; narrow alleys, courtyards protected by high, sturdy and windowless walls, solid wooden doors that give out an eerie ambiance of olden eras. Every corner hides a new surprise and picture-perfect scenes pop up in every step. Navigating through these sunny, cobblestone alleys seems like a genuine travel back in time, and the images of simple rural Cycladic life leave no visitor unimpressed.
Up to today, Megalochori is a village that does not rely on the touristic influx; still its untouched beauty and minimalistic elegance attracts visitors who wish to see a more authentic side of the Santorinian life. Its main enterprise, agriculture and viniculture in particular, with family owned wineries that uphold the traditional methods of winemaking such as the Venetsanos and Gavala wineries, is what makes the village of Megalochori stand out and prosper.
When in Megalochori, the majestic steeples of its churches are definitely eye-catching, especially the three-leveled bell-tower of the Eisodia of the Theotokou (the Annunciation of Mary). The village’s square is a small little haven for rest and regrouping, cool under the shadows of the trees, with quaint, traditional cafés and tavernas. The canavas of Megalochori, the cave-like rooms carved into stone for the maturing procedure of the wine are also a remarkable site worth visiting. The canavas of both the Venetsanos and Gavalas wineries are both open to the public, with guided tours of their grounds and delicious wine tastings.
In general, Megalochori is a destination worth visiting for its unspoilt, genuine character and the amazing fact that it has managed to remain distant from the bustle and the commotion of the more popular and touristic caldera.