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Thursday, 10 April 2008 14:28

Milos

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Milos, island, most southwesterly of the major islands of the Greek Cyclades in the Aegean Sea. The greater portion of the 150.6-sq-km island, of geologically recent volcanic origin, is rugged, culminating in the west in Mt. Profitis Ilias 751 m.

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Its obsidian exports to Phoenicia helped to make it an important centre of early Aegean civilization. The bay, 165-330 ft deep, is a submerged crater created out of a violent volcanic eruption that left an isthmus approximately 2.4 km wide on the south. Mílos, the capital and chief town, lies just north of the chief port, Adhámas. Southwest of the town are catacombs in which early Christians from the Greek mainland sought refuge. On the ancient acropolis of Adamanda the famous Venus (Aphrodite) of Milo was found in 1820.

The British School at Athens excavated (1896-99) the ancient acropolis of Klima (1000-800 BC) above Milos, uncovering a palace and a gymnasium and a Roman theatre of later date. The most significant civilization uncovered on Melos by the British School, however, was that of Phylakopi, a site near Apollonia, the second port of Melos, on the promontory of Pláka. Phylakopi was a flourishing settlement at the time of the late Bronze Age eruption of neighbouring Thera. Evidence discovered at Phylakopi in 1974 tended to reverse earlier assumptions that the eruption had destroyed the island: no break in continuity was established. The oldest city dates from between 2300 and 2000 BC. On the same site a second city rose (from 2000 to 1550 BC). The third city (1550-1100), dating largely from the Mycenaean Age, represents the fullest flowering of Melos' Cycladic civilization. Phylakopi was destroyed about 1100 by Dorian settlers.

milos_main_port The Athenian outrage of slaying the entire male population (416) in reprisal for the islanders' neutrality during the Peloponnesian War inspired the playwright Euripides to write and stage before his fellow Athenians his work Trojan Women, an anti-war play that continues as part of modern dramatic repertories. The historian Thucydides, in his "Melian Dialogue," preserved the speeches made in negotiations between the Athenians and Melians which preceded the military action. The Spartan soldier-statesman Lysander (died 395 BC) restored the island to its Dorian possessors, but it never recovered its prosperity. Under Frankish rule the island formed part of the duchy of Naxos.

In classical times Melos' sulfur, alum, and obsidian mines gave it wide commercial prominence; the Melian earth was used as a pigment by painters. Bentonite, perlite, kaolin, barium, gypsum, millstones, and salt are exported, and oranges, olives, grapes, cotton, and barley are cultivated. The island is no longer famous for the ornamental vases and the goldsmiths' art produced in the 7th century BC.

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Adamas. Its name might come from "diamond". It is situated on the gulf and all ferryboats arrive to its secure harbour. Adamas is the "downtown" place of the island of Milos, because it is pivotal to all directions, it has cafes and restaurants right on the gulf, shops and markets, discos, and the majority of other services. Boat excursions depart from Adamas and so do ferries to Kimolos. Visit the churches of Aghia Triada and Agios Halarambos.

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Plaka. Built on the hill at the entrance of the gulf, Plaka is the most characteristic town on the Island with narrow roads, houses of Cycladic style, and a few shops and restaurants. Visit the Kastro, from which you have a wonderful view of the North/West part of the island and unforgettable sunsets. The Folk Museum and The Archaeological Museum are in Plaka and we suggest their visit. Near Plaka you have the Catacombs and the Theatre, with unexpected interesting marble remains.

Pollonia. In front of the Island of Kimolos, North/East of Adamas (10 km.) Pollonia is a small fisherman town built around a pretty, restful round beach of fine sand. On one side the peer with restaurants. It is an ideal place for those who want to be out of the crowd, close to all beaches on the north side and to the nearby islands: Kimolos, Ag. Ghiorgos, Poliegos, and of course, Glaronissia, the impressive small islands coming up from the sea with hexagon shaped stones.

milos_tsigrado While sailing around the island of Milos you will see a unique display of coloured rocks and clear waters. According to sea conditions and the size of your boat, you may choose to circumnavigate the island due North or South: the landscape is beautiful anywhere. Excursions with local boats can be made from Adamas. Please don't litter the gulf! As winds are normally either from South or North, this keeps non-biodegradable trash inside, and the local inhabitants are very strict on fighting littering.

Visibility is generally very good. During the summer, at times, humidity and dust in the air may reduce visibility up to 2 miles. In some rare conditions, there is morning fog. There are frequent winds from North. The Meltemi (N-NE) blows in July and August. South winds are less frequent in summertime, but strong, over 8 Beaufort and this explains why few boats anchor south of the Island of Milos. Northwest, Southeast and Southwest winds are less frequent.

You may experience strange winds near the coastline, which is turbulence created by the geographical aspects of the island. Check well your charts while in the Kimolos strait, it is full of reefs and shoals! The gulf of Adamas is the ideal place to cast your anchor, both for sailing and motorboats. Pollonia offers shelter to only a few boats, as the small bay is full of local boats and piers are small. In Adamas docking is possible for some 40 boats over 30 ft., at a very low cost. A new, longer quay has been built in 2000. Water (non drinkable) and electricity is available. For refueling see advertisements: delivery service is made to quays both in Adamas and Pollonia. milos_firopotamos

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The Mediterranean monk seal "monachus monachus", one of the most endangered species in Europe, lives on the costs of Milos and on the nearby island of Kimolos. Going around these islands you may be lucky to see one of the few hundreds animals still surviving. The Monk Seal is about 2.5 m. long and weights around 300 kilos. Its skin is covered by short shiny hair in striking black or brown hues on its back, with lighter colors on its underside. Reproduction takes 10 months, and the animal feeds on a variety of fish, octopus and squids.

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