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Introduction to Milos

What Greek island is the most often mentioned yet one of the least visited by travelers?
The answer is Milos....

Mineral deposit on Paleohori beachThe reason it is mentioned so often is because of its rich history and of course because this is where the famous Venus de Milo was found that is now a centerpiece at the Louvre in Paris. The reason it is not visited more is because tourists don't realize that besides Santorini, Milos has the most extraordinary terrain of any of the Cyclades due to its volcanic past. There are amazing rock formations, hot springs and as many as seventy-five beaches, some of which rival the best in all of Greece. Rich in minerals even today, the island was inhabited during the Myceneaen and Minoan periods and was one of the earliest civilizations of the Cyclades islands. Formerly a Spartan colony, though remaining neutral during the Peloponnesian war, Milos did not join the Athenian league and was give the choice of paying tribute or being destroyed. These negotiations were written about by Thucydides with the people of Milos taking the point of view that by trusting in God and having faith in human decency they would be spared. The Athenian's point of view was that 'might makes right' and because they were powerful they could do whatever they wanted including wipe out the people of Milos, which they did in 416 BC, the men massacred and the women and children turned into slaves. Five hundred Athenians were sent to the island to re-colonize it. It was the beginning of the end for the Athenians as well. The massacre of the Melians exposed the Athenians as ruthless imperialists and turned the ancient world against her in a way that mirrors events of our own lives.

Venus de Milo tourist merchandizeEventually repopulated the island was home to a Christian population that buried their dead in the famous catacombs, the largest and most impressive in Greece. In 1820 the famous statue of Aphrodite, known as the Venus de Milo (The Venus of Milos) was found by George Kentrotas and sold to the French Consul who made a gift of it to Louis XVIII of France who put it in the Louvre Museum in Paris. It is one of the most recognizable pieces of art in the world.

Nowadays Milos is a combination industrial and tourist island. The vast mineral deposits continue to be the wealth of Milos and it has been said that the reason tourism has been slow to take hold is because the people who own the mines don't want the Melians to get used to the 'easy life' of running hotels and restaurants because then they will never want to work in the mines. However with the popularity of the island with vacationing Greeks and the fact that you can't hide something as large and as beautiful as a Greek island forever you have to accept that sooner or later the mines will be worked by Albanians and other immigrants while the islanders discover that the business of tourism is also hard work. (Be sure to visit the Mineral and Mining Museum in Adamas)

Greece: Milos harborSailing into Milos is almost as dramatic as sailing into the caldera of Santorini. The port of Adamas is inside a large bay and is considered the safest natural port in the Aegean. The Germans used it during the Second World War. It was so important to them that it was not liberated until the very end of the war, the same day as Berlin! As you enter the bay you pass on your left the village of Klima, famous for the boat houses right on the sea with their brightly painted doors and the living quarters on the upper floors. Adamas won't impress you with its beauty though parts of it are picturesque and in many ways is a true picture of Greek island life, similar to Ermouplis in Syros or Naxos town, only smaller. In the summer it has a busy waterfront lined with cafes, restaurants, ATM's and shops and features a mining museum as well as boat tours around the island that visit some of the most spectacular beaches in Greece. Because of the island's popularity with Greeks finding accommodation by just showing up is not a sure thing in the summer and booking in advance is not a bad idea. There are a number of good restaurants, as there are on most islands that cater to Greek clientele instead of just tourists. Despite the volcanic nature of Milos, which usually goes hand in hand with hot springs, there are several places around the island where there are hot springs. The most well known are the mineral baths in Adamas called Ta Loutra tou Lakkou, (Baths of the Pit) which was mentioned by Herodotus as a cure for skin diseases. It is currently recommended for neuro-arthritis and osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle pain and neuralgia, and rheumatism.

Plaka, Milos, GreeceThe town of Plaka which is the true capital of the island is built on a hill overlooking the sea just 5 kilometers from Adamas. Plaka has the white-washed houses that people come to Greece to see, as well as a Frankish castle on the ancient acropolis, a folk art museum, an archaeology museum and a well preserved ancient theater which hosts the Milos Festival every July when the island is visited by Greek and International artists whose performances in such a spectacular setting are not easy to forget. In the nearby village of Tripiti are the Christian Catacombs, open from Tu-Sat 8:30 to 6:30 and Sunday 8:30 to 3:00 and regarded as one of the most important findings from the first years of Christianity. Nearby is the field where the famous 4th century statue of Aphrodite, otherwise known as the Venus de Milo was found by farmer George Kontrotas in 1820. There is a copy in the Archaeology Museum along with Neolithic, Mycenaean, Minoan and Hellenistic artifacts from the island. At the Plakiaki Gonia you can enjoy traditional Milos cooking and sign the petition to have the Venus de Milo returned to the island. And don't leave Plaka without visiting the Milos Sand Museum where you can see sand from all over the world!

Milos: Kleftiko rock formationThe best way to see the beaches and dramatic coast of Milos with its spectacular volcanic rock formations is by excursion boat, which you can find in the port of Adamas. They leave at 9am and circle the island. Some of them stop on the nearby island of Kimilos for lunch and they all stop for swims along the way, returning at 8pm. If an 11 hour day seems like too much for you the Delfini leaves from the port below the Kypo Taverna on the south side of Milos at 11am and goes to Kleftiko, the most impressive of the rock formations, stopping on the way for a swim and returning at 2:30. If you wander around the harbor in the port of Adamas you will find several excursion boats and even some sailboats advertising their trips around the island with photos of where they go. If you don't have a mask and snorkel and flippers use whichever boat provides them. There is also a dive center in Pollonia for those who want to go scuba diving. A car or motor-cycle can get you pretty much all over the island which has an extensive road system if you are more of a land person.

Milos, Greece: Rock formations at SarokinikoSome of the many beaches worth visiting are Lagkada, with its mineral baths, Pollonia, a small fishing village where many people have their summer houses, Plathiena, a sandy beach near Plaka, and the long sandy beaches of Paleohori and Provotas. There are also hot springs at Paleohori. There are several sandy beaches in the bay of Adamas as well as a salt water lake. Be sure not to miss the white pumice rock formations at Sarakiniko with the shipwreck on the rocks just around the bend, or the incredible blue sulfuric water at Papafragas. The island of Kimilos which is reached by a small ferry from Pollonia as well as by the ferry to and from Pireaus on certain days, is certainly worth at least a day trip. There are hotels, restaurants, and excursions around that island to beaches and thermal springs, and staying overnight or even several days would be an experience few tourists have. You can find hotels, apartments and rooms on Kimilos through Booking.com's Kimolos Hotel Search or by contacting Aegean Thesaurus Travel.

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