Anyone seen a Minoan tomb round here?

Exploring Naxos by car, we come across the village of Koronida, the highest on the island, the place where kitron liqueur came from and an old emery mining village. Strung along the main road, it looks quite unremarkable, but we stop anyway to take a look round. We are intrigued by a sign to a Minoan tomb pointing up a path and decide to follow it.

Off the main road, it reveals itself to be a pretty little village.

But as we climb higher, the houses become more ramshackle and eventually ruined shells.

The going gets tougher as the steps get steeper. After climbing some particularly narrow steps with a rickety handrail, my wife gives up and leaves me to carry on looking for the tomb. The signs of course gave out long ago. It’s mid afternoon and there’s no one around to ask the way. Now and again we hear the clip-clop of hooves but we can’t see the animal that’s making this sound. I keep on climbing until I come to the edge of the village: there are no more houses and the main path runs out. Suddenly there’s the sign again pointing up a short dirt path to the tomb itself cut into the side of the mountain.

Crawling in on my hands and knees, at last I am in this beautiful little tomb, built (and probably re-built over the years) without mortar, the stones held together by their own weight like a dry stone wall. The roof is circular and high enough to stand up straight.


Emerging from the tomb into the blinding light and walking back down the dirt path I hear a bit of a commotion in the bushes and then the mystery animal I’d heard earlier emerges with its owner.

I stop to have a chat and he tells me that they are taking grapes from the vineyard to the village wine press and he hands me a bunch of them from one of the boxes on the side. They’re small, sweet and gritty from their coating of dusty soil. 

Now I have a guide out of the village labyrinth. As they descend the steps, the path is so narrow in places that the donkey’s heavy load barely squeaks past, but his owner is expert in guiding it with his stick and keeping it moving forward.