The Earthly Miracles of Milos
If you’re planning the ultimate Greece vacation, it is tempting to stick with the big names. After all, with a Hellenic Holidays package like Hellenic Essence which will take you from Athens to Mykonos to Santorini, surely you can’t go wrong, right? (Answer: no you can’t – these islands are famous for good reason).
But for those seeking to combine Greece’s most famous sights with an exploration of lesser-known gems, your Greece vacation experts have you covered. One enticing prospect is Hellenic Delight which again will take you from Athens to Santorini but this time via the unique island of Milos.
Milos is an island that, curiously, is most famous for what is no longer on it: the statue of Venus de Milo that was discovered in 1820 in a field and is today a major draw at the Louvre in Paris. This exquisite sculpture is a testament to the sophisticated civilization that blossomed on the island millennia ago. (And when you visit Milos you can see a life-sized replica together with other fascinating finds at the island’s Archaeological Museum, housed in a gorgeous neoclassical building).
But to truly understand the magic of Milos, one has to go much deeper into the past: specifically, to several million years ago when the island was first created from a series of massive volcanic eruptions. These were caused by the collision of continental plates which created what is known as the Aegean Volcanic Arc – the same fault-line responsible for Santorini’s volcano which erupted to create that island’s incredible caldera.
And much like Santorini, Milos’ volc
anic nature has profoundly influenced just about everything on the island – rendering it a truly unique destination not just in the Aegean but anywhere in the world.
Below are just some of Milos’ earthly miracles:
Milos’s Incredible Beaches
If you want world-class beaches to be a key component of your Greece vacation package, then you simply can’t go wrong with Milos. The island’s unique geology is probably nowhere more apparent than there where it meets the sea, with its volcanic past responsible for beaches that are positively dizzying in both their beauty and variety.
Milos boasts no fewer than 70 beaches that come in every shape and form, meaning that no matter your taste in swimming spots, you are bound to be spoilt for choice. You can stay on the island for two months, and not visit the same beach twice.
Milos is famed for its beaches, and rightly so. Many of the most famous regularly feature in ‘best in Europe’ lists, such as Sarakiniko where a dazzling, smooth white moonscape meet turquoise waters and sandy coves. Then there is Papafragas where swimmers pass under a natural rock archway before emerging in open sea – yet another work of art sculpted by the forces of nature on an island that is spoilt for them.
Enjoying the clear waters of Sarakiniko Beach in MilosAnd that’s not to mention the long sandy stretches – some quiet and peaceful, others with every amenity you could possibly want.
Here you can do everything from diving around shipwrecks, to adrenaline-inducing watersports, to just relaxing on a beach lounger, cocktail in hand. And that’s literally only scraping the surface of what Milos’ has to offer.
To get the full experience of the wide range of beaches Milos and its surrounding islets have to offer, the best option is take a boat to the many spots only accessible by sea – a service easily arranged through your Greece vacation experts, Hellenic Holidays.
As you cruise along on a speedboat or catamaran, you will also be able to take in the kaleidoscope of colors of Milos’ cliffs have to offer, the result of rich seams of colorful volcanic minerals and crystals eroding into the sea. There is no place on Earth quite like it.
Milos’ Hot Springs
Given that the island emerged from a rift in the Earth’s crust, it is little surprise that it also boasts a wealth of hot springs. The father of medicine himself, Hippocrates, wrote about Milos’ thermal springs and their therapeutic properties for arthritis, rheumatism and a slew of other conditions. Even for those with no such complaints, relaxing in the hot, mineral-rich waters is a rejuvenating experience that brings a healthy glow to the skin.
And best of all? Many of the island’s hot springs flow directly into the sea where you can enjoy all-natural healing waters completely free of charge. Alternatively you can visit the recently renovated spa of Lakkos in Adamantas, built into a cave, where you can soak in indoor pools to your heart’s content, surrounded by natural rock.
The Milos Catacombs
In many places on Milos, the earth was formed by quickly cooling lava, creating a porous rock bed that is soft and relatively easy to excavate. This allowed for the creation of the Catacombs of Milos, the most important Early Christian monument in Greece, and one of the most important anywhere in the world.
This complex dates to the 1st-5th century AD, making it even older than the catacombs in Rome. First excavated in the 19th century, the underground chambers consist of long (200m) chambers flanked by vaults hewn into the rock walls. These were both burial sites for the Christian dead, as well as places of worship, used by early Christians to protect them from their Roman persecutors.
Today a section of the catacombs can be visited – a truly haunting and mesmerizing experience and a rare insight into the world of early Christianity in the Mediterranean.
The Syrmata – Milos’ Little Venices
That same porous volcanic rock is also what has allowed for the creation of another characteristic sight on Milos – the syrmata. These are small buildings along the water’s edge featuring storage sites dug out of the rock for small boats – like an old waterfront garage. Directly above, the boats’ owners would live in small homes.
These wonderful waterfront buildings exists in clusters at numerous sites along Milos’ protective bays and are among the island’s most charming sights. Frequently compared with Mykonos’ Little Venice, many of the syrmata have today been converted into guesthouses allowing for waterfront stays with an authentic allure.
The People of Milos
Since prehistoric times when the obsidian found in abundance on Milos was used by its early inhabitants to create stone tools, the island’s mineral riches have been a draw to people who have made ingenious use of its unique attributes.
Milos’ 11,000 year-old mining industry is still alive today, with the island producing minerals such as kaolin and bentonite, a fact that has made it less reliant on tourism than other islands, allowing for more authentic experiences. You can take in this deep history at the fascinating Milos Mining Museum in Adamantas.
The fact is that as much as the natural processes of the Earth have blessed Milos, it is its people who, throughout the centuries, have turned this wealth into something more than colorful rocks.
Here you will find everything you hope for from a Cycladic island, and more: charming villages of whitewashed houses, excellent food and wine, great hospitality, and an overall appreciation of the wealth provided by the Earth that is rare, anywhere on the planet.