The volcanic island of Milos is one of the most beautiful islands of the South Aegean seas. Perhaps best known for the discovery in 1820 of the Aphrodite of Milos (or the Venus de Milo as the Hellenistic statue is more popularly called), the island is also known for its crystal clear waters, multi-coloured beaches, and extraordinary ‘carved’ geological formations. With mining an important part of the island’s economy today, as it has been throughout history, Milos goes to great lengths to promote responsible, sustainable tourism to preserve its many landscapes of natural beauty.
This southern most island in the Cyclades lies on a volcanic arch that includes the island of Santorini. And it is the volcanic rocks and minerals that have been the backbone of this island’s economy for millennia. Read more about the Ancient and Volcanic Landscapes of Milos and how best to experience them.
Ancient City of Melos
Just below the town of Plaka and overlooking the seaside town of Klima are the remains of the ancient town of Melos dating to Hellenistic and Roman times. There is very little to see here now. Besides the remnants of walls and towers that once made up the fortifications of the town the most obvious feature is the theatre – with its stunning view over the waters beyond Klima. The theatre is not very well preserved, and is currently being restored. Above the theatre is an early Christian font in the shape of a cross.
Archaeological Museum of Milos
The island’s main archaeological museum is housed in a small, neoclassical building in the capital town of Plaka. Pride of place just inside the entrance of the museum is a life-size replica of the Venus de Milo. Then through a series of galleries in chronological order, artefacts from the 4th millennium BC and up to Christian times tell the early history of the island. The largest collection of artefacts on display are the diverse objects recovered from the archaeological site of Phylakopi – including the many clay figurines of humans and animals.
Near the ancient city of Melos and just below the modern-day settlement of Trypiti, the side of the hill leading down to Klima is dotted with numerous human made caves that were the Catacombs of the early Christian period. Some are small, simple tombs cut into the soft volcanic rock, and are still in use for storage today. Others are more substantial with inter-leading passages with many family tombs that have been in use since the Roman period. The tombs were robbed before they were described in the mid-nineteenth century.
The Ecclesiastical Museum of Milos
Close to the waterfront in the port town of Adamas is the Byzantine church of the Holy Trinity. A striking cross-vaulted, three nave basilica with a vaulted dome. The church is not only an example of rare religious architecture, it now houses a spectacular collection of religious artefacts and objects that have been in use on Milos over the centuries – the earliest of which is an Icon from Crete that dates to the 14th century. Both the architecture and the artefacts are a testimony to the prosperity of the island in the past.
Folk & History Museum
In what was once a wealthy family home, opposite the Panayia Korphiatissa church in Plaka, is now home to an interesting and rather quaint ethnographic museum. Each of the rooms in the house have been dressed to convey different aspects of Melian life and society from the mid nineteenth century until the early twentieth century. Original artefacts from the period provide a glimpse of what daily life was like on the island during the nineteenth century and how it was effected by foreign influence.
Milos mining Museum
Just as the exploitation of volcanic rock rock did much for developing the economy of the island in prehistory, mining has been a important part of the island’s economy ever since. Established in 1998, with support from the biggest mining company on the island, the museum is not just a great geological museum. Here you will discover the history of mining on Milos that has lasted some 11,000 years – including a impressive display of obsidian tools, how they were made and their trade across the Mediterranean.
Perched on the edge of a cliff, that is now falling into the sea due to coastal erosion, are the remains of the ancient port of Phylakopi. During the 3rd and 2nd millennium BC this was the most important harbour in the Aegean – linking mainland Greece with Crete. Still clearly visible are the robust fortifications, a megaron which recalls the Mycenean Palaces, and a sanctuary in which many beautiful clay figurines of humans and animals were recovered during archaeological excavations in the 1970s.