Friday 30 September 2016

The Catacombs of Milos

Located near the village of Trypiti and near Plaka, the catacombs of Milos not far from wall of the ancient city.

There were road works near Plaka and the bus did not go all the way to the catacombs so we had to take a taxi from Adamas, which deposited us here, by this old olive tree.

The views of the gulf of Milos were stunning.


We took the path

and steps down to the entrance of the catacombs.

Only guided groups of 10  are allowed in and the allocated time is 15 minutes.

The catacombs are an early Christian cemetery, consisting of a subterranean complex of halls and corridors which have been carved into the soft volcanic rock. The total length of the vertical (arcosolia) and horizontal ones (loculi) is 185 metres.. The arched ones are either singular or in pairs. There are also floor pit-graves.

The catacombs were used by early Christians first as a burial site and later as a place of worship and a refuge after persecution by the Romans became widespread. They are considered to be the most important early Christian monument of worship in all of Greece. They are among the three most important of the 74 discovered worldwide, together with the catacombs of Rome and the Holy Land. It is possible that the catacombs of Milos are older than the ones of Rome.

The catacombs were known locally as 'the Greek cave'. They suffered extensive damage and looting even before archaeologists discovered them.

There is ample evidence that suggests that most of the first converts to Christianity in Milos were Jews. There was a substantial Jewish community on the island, as well as indications that St Paul was shipwrecked in Milos on his way to Athens from Crete. Consequently, when St Paul encountered his own ethnic group in Milos, according to Professor Adolph von Deissman, '... his teachings fell like a seed on fertile soil'.

It was very dark in there but each individual tomb was well lit.


This is a double grave, the top small one, being one for a baby.

The graves were richly decorated, but only small patches of colour remain - green

and red here.

a double one

There are a few remaining painted decorations and fragments of inscriptions in some of the arcosolia,

 as well as small openings for depositing offerings or lamps.

The finds and the burial offerings (jewellery, lamps) allow us to date the use of the cemetery from the middle of the 1st century AD to the 6th century AD.

Difficult to see in the photograph, but this was a much larger family grave.

Wednesday 28 September 2016

Plaka in Milos

I have no photos of Plaka as seen from a distance because we only got glimpses of it from the bus. It nestles on the foot of a hill with a Venetian castle dating from the 13th century and a church perched on top. It is beautiful.

All I have is this photograph I took when we were visiting the catacombs, but it's not very satisfactory, but it will have to do.
Plaka is the capital of Milos and it's built in the traditional Cycladic style: narrow, cobbled alleyways that originally protected from pirate invasion; whitewashed houses with (mainly) blue windows and doors. Today it's full of interesting shops, cafeterias and restaurants and it's wonderful to stroll around the town.

The bus took us to one of the squares and then we walked up this long cobbled avenue that leads to the centre of the town - thankfully no cars are allowed here as the streets are very narrow.

This magnificent old building was on our right, ready for renovation - it would make such a magnificent public building or even a residence.

As all over Greece, a lot of old houses are to be found that are turning into ruins either because the owners cannot afford to renovate them, or because too many inheritors cannot agree on what to do with the building.

We soon reached the shops

had to climb quite a few steps

the tavernas were getting ready for customers.

I liked this house

one of the many churches

and the lights were starting to come on.

We did not stop to look at any of the shops. We were in a hurry because we wanted to see the sunset from the terrace of

Utopia, a cafĂ©/bar, tucked away in a small side street

that has the best views of the Gulf of Milos.

People come here to look at the sunset

it was stunning.

The only thing I can compare it to is watching the sun setting over the caldera in Santorini.

This bar is lovely:

it's beautifully decorated, with a piano inside, prints by Joan Miro and Escher, and great attention to detail.

The terrace is small and all the tables in the front row were taken, but a table became free soon after we arrived and we were able to appreciate the views of the gulf and the mountains in the distance, without any interruptions.

On our right we could see the top of the hill with the castle and the church

The red in the sky intensified


and then mist descended on the mountains in the distance

later there was the most amazing thunderstorm - my small, portable camera could not capture that, but it lasted a long time and we were awed.

We reluctantly left Utopia because we were aware that we had to explore the town before catching the last bus at 11:00.

Lovely fruit on this pomegranate tree


The town was teeming with life, particularly diners who were able to sit on the side of the cobbled streets and not only eat, but also soak up the atmosphere of this vibrant town.

Most alleyways in the centre were taken up with taverna tables

We slowly drifted away from the centre, the streets got darker, and we were able to appreciate the architecture - lovely, quirky staircases

here's another one

we then reached the Birth of the Virgin Mary square, dominated by the church



The church was open so we went inside

the lone priest sitting in contemplation said it was o.k. to take photographs

looking up


the ceiling of one of the side chapels.


We left the church and started exploring the square

detail of the floor

The folk museum is here too

some of these alleyways are very narrow indeed

built this way to protect from the sun

I have a penchant for round houses, so I had to photograph this one

more steps, illuminated by the moon

white-washed steps

bougainvillea provides some colour

and steps leading up to the front doors of the houses, everywhere

a cat sitting on the steps

looking closer

a lot of the streets are cobbled

as we veered back towards the centre

we started looking at some of the shops.

In one of the shops, the Venus of Milos

with lots more inside

a wonderful door

 We soon came across Diporto (the one with two doors),

one of the local tavernas

walked along, turned right and right again

and arrived at the second entrance of the restaurant on the street parallel to the first one.

This is Archondoula, the most popular taverna in the town, a place where we sat quite a few times a few years ago when we first visited the island

I remember how difficult it was to get a table, and how sometimes we would have to wait for quite a while

It was busy this time, but there were a few free tables.

It was time for us to catch our bus, we walked down the hill and saw that in one of the squares the locals were having some kind of celebration.