Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Adamas World War Two bomb shelter


The German occupiers arrived in Milos in May 1941 and the island became their base for the planning of the occupation of Crete which was the first occasion where German paratroops were used en masse, the first mainly airborne invasion in military history and the first time German troops encountered mass resistance from a civilian population. The resistance to the German onslaught lasted 10 days and on the 30th of May 1931 the Cretans and Allied troops had to surrender. Civilian resistance was fierce which initially surprised and subsequently enraged the Germans who went on an indiscriminate killing spree. Throughout the German occupation in the years that followed, reprisals in retaliation for the involvement of the local population in the German resistance continued. On several occasions villages were rounded up and their citizens executed.

Back to Milos, in preparation for the occupation of Crete, the Germans  ordered the digging and building of tunnels and passages in various locations on the island which they used for the protection of the soldiers as well as food and ammunition storage. The largest such passage was that of Adamas which was predominantly used to shelter the Germans from British bombing. It's a ramified tunnel with 12 chambers.

The biggest bombardment of the town occurred in September 1944 when a British bomb cruiser bombarded Adamas in order to destroy the German defence deployments. The tunnel is used as an art gallery today, and the exhibition we saw is called 'Refuge Project'.

We were looking forward to our visit as we thought it would be very interesting to see the shelter, but what we were not prepared for was the quality of the exhibits. The whole experience was fantastic, enhanced by the fact that we visited at 10:00 at night (the shelter closes at 11:00 at night during the summer months).

Having paid the fee, we entered the shelter and started exploring the various tunnels.

It was very dark and extremely atmospheric

and my photographs are quite grainy

and had it not been for Ken's torch on his mobile we would not have been able to read the names of the artists and the information about the art works. A lot of the pieces are performance art, but there were no performances when we visited so a lot of what we saw were the props. Still fantastic though!

Kynthia Voukouvalidou, Ah! Love's Phenings (performance)

'A woman does the laundry while singing, moving in space and giving love notes to the audience (or is she part of the audience?)'

Mady Lykeridou, Veleta, (performance, photography, video installation)
A black box simulating Edison's first camera, the Black Mary.

We were not able to see the performance but we did peep through the tiny holes cut on the surface of the box and looked at scenes from the performance.


We then moved on and arrived here, one of my favourites of the exhibits

Margarita Amarantidi, Vola Con Me (Fly With Me) (installation)

An audiovisual installation that develops in three stages: theme, space and time. The theme is refugee stories, each one of them represented by paper planes that are suspended from the roof of the tunnel. Ney flute music.

Looking closer.


We then moved on.


Despina Flessa, Mining (installation)

A clear reference to Milos' rich mining history,  a result of the wide range of different volcanic activities which occurred on the island in prehistoric times.


looking closer

Deeper into the tunnel we went

Athima Kyrousi, The Fairy of Adamas, (dance)

'A little girl wanders in space. She is not of flesh and bones, she is a spirit, the guardian angel of the shelter of Adamas which exudes secrets and stories. This girl is the fairy of memory. She reminds us how important the history of a place is. Little Ariadne holds the keys of history. She gives necklaces/amulets which carry memories. Her dance is a prayer that leaves behind traces of scents, sighs, smiles and finally traces of our lives'.

the amulets

which are keys

glitter on the floor

and a fairy land atmosphere on this section of the tunnel.


And then it was dark again and we continued on our way

Gabriel Pagonis, Untitled (painting - performance)

Ulysses Ketselidis, Stories of Madmen (painting performance)



Elena Chasalevri, Betwixt, (installation)

looking closer

Constantinos Dalamagas and Nina Adamopoulou, And the Days go by.... (performance)


the viewers were invited to write their own stories

and place them in this box.

Filio Louvari and Mady Lykeridou, Veleta/Alexandra (dance, performance, installation)


By now we were coming to realise how long and complex this shelter is, but we continued searching for more exhibits

Panayiotis Andreou, Planta Secretorum, (installation)

looking closer

and closer


Ivan Masteropoulos, The Burrow (installation)


'The Burrow provides a neutral-green buffer zone. It is a perfect underground building, a construction that protects you from the real world. The viewer can hide under a clay blanket completely isolated from any outside interference'.

And that was it. We had come back full circle, left the shelter and went to Mikros Apoplous for a late evening meal. It had been a fantastic experience.



  1. A fascinating space for an art gallery. I am impressed with all the contemporary art that you have been encountering on your trips to Greece. I find Planta Secretorum the piece which most directly makes an impression through your photographs. In trying to find out something more about the artist I stumbled upon this interesting piece:

    1. I am impressed too, Olga: for such a small and impoverished country, the art that is being produced is remarkable. Some of the artists are getting international recognition too, which is a good thing. An exhibition at the Victoria Miro gallery in London that opens today features a Greek artist whose work I admire, and I hope that I will have the opportunity to go and see it.

      Planta Secretorum is a wonderful piece: we only realised that it was dolls' faces when we got very close and our reaction was: AHHHH. Lovely.

      Finally, thanks for the link to this wonderful school project. The piece the students created is so poignant and powerful. Congratulations to the students but it's also an indicator what good art teaching can achieve: I witnessed that in the school I used to work - I remember very clearly the arrival of a new, young and enthusiastic art teacher and how her students flourished.