The island of Milos
Name: According to mythology, the island took its name from its first inhabitant, Milos. (Milos, according to the myth, was the son of a royal family in Cyprus, whom the goddess Aphrodite, after the suicide of his parents, sent him to bury the island.) Nomenclature, however, probably is the transformation of the pre-Hellenic word “millet” which meant sheep.
Population: About 5,000 inhabitants (4,744 people according to the 2001 census).
Location: Milos is the 5th largest island of the Cyclades (24 Cycladic Islands altogether) and is located at the southwest edge. It is 86 miles (138.40 km) from Piraeus and is in the middle of the Piraeus-Crete route. Its geographical width is from 36 46 ’27’ ‘to 3638′ 37 ”, while its geographical length from 24 19 ’01’ ‘to 24 32 47’ ‘
Area: 158 km2
Coastline: 125 km
Shape: The shape of the island is irregular and looks like a horseshoe. Its length from north to south reaches 11.2 km, while from east to west it is 17.6 km. The center narrows and the sea penetrates deep into the land, creating the port of Milos, one of the largest and safest natural ports of the Mediterranean.
Ground morphology: The island is relatively mountainous, with no tree vegetation and a low mountain height not exceeding 400 meters.
Highest peak: Prophet Elias – 751 meters.
Climate: The climate of the island is mild Mediterranean with plenty of sunshine for most days of the year. Between mid-July and mid-August, meltemia (northern winds) are very frequent, while southern winds are usually neither frequent nor strong.
Administration: Milos consists of a Municipality, the Municipality of Milos and Plaka has its capital. Administratively belongs to the prefecture of Cyclades, with the capital Ermoupolis of Syros.
Fields of Activity: In the past, Milos had developed enough agricultural production. Nowadays, the secondary sector has the most important position with the extraction of industrial materials, while the tertiary sector and in particular the tourist activity is growing rapidly.
Mesolithic & Neolithic Period (10,000 BC – 3,200 BC)
Historical evidence and findings show that there was a human presence on the island from the Mesolithic period, about 8,000 BC. The first inhabitants of the island were probably Phoenicians or Kares, while the Milian obsidian found in the cave of Frangathis in the Peloponnese (7,000- 8.000 BC) as well as in the palaces of Crete (7.000 BC), prove that Milos had begun to develop since prehistoric times.
Thanks to its strategic position between Mainland Greece and Crete, its natural and safe harbor and mainly thanks to the extraction of the obsidian (black, hard, volcanic rock used for the construction of weapons and tools), Milos was one of the first islands of the Aegean that prosper and began to create a significant culture.
During the Neolithic period in the Nyia and Demengeki regions there were obsidian export facilities from which knives, blades, arrows, spears, and many other tools and weapons were made. The oppidan tools discovered by archaeological investigations across Greece (Thessaly, Peloponnese, Crete and elsewhere), but even in Egypt, are evidence of the fairly early commercial shipping developed by the Milies.
Bronze Period (3200 BC – 1100 BC)
The scattered huts that lived by the Milios during the Neolithic era were abandoned and most rural communities gathered in a large settlement, Phylakopi. Phylakopi, apart from an important center of Cycladic culture, is also considered one of the first cities in Europe with a history of more than 1500 years.
The settlement was inhabited already in 3000 BC and was abandoned in 1100 BC. having spent three historical periods. In the pre-occupation era (3200 BC – 2300 BC) began the construction of the houses. In the first historical period (2300-2000 BC), the settlement is about 200 meters (large for the Aegean era), it does not have an organized layout, but it has a relatively organized cemetery. At the same time, the use of stone is revealed at that time and the export of obsidian is multiplied, resulting in the full commercial flourishing of the Milies. In the 2nd period (2000-1600 BC) walls were built to guard against raids, the graves are now outside the walls, while the houses are staggered on the hill. During this period ceramics art developed with distinct Minoan influences and the commercial relations of the Milies with various regions of Greece and especially with Crete developed further. This period ends with the destruction of Fylakopi, probably from fire of invaders, while with the construction of the third settlement, the 3rd historical period of the city begins (1600-1 1110 BC). During this last period Phylakopi presents an organized, complex urban design, fortification with high cyclopean walls of over 6 meters thick and bigger houses, some of which are two-storeyed. At the beginning of this period the influence of the Minoan civilization was intense (parts of a slab embossed in the Minoan Linear A) were found, but the Mycenaean element was slowly gaining momentum. A Mycenaean-style palace with many rooms and a two-room sanctuary is built around 1400. Also, works of high sculpture and ceramics are produced, with the most important sample being the “Lady of Filakopi” (You can see it at the Milos Archaeological Museum). Since 1200 BC. in the Aegean there are reconstructions, well-known commercial streets are abandoned, while the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations have been weakened. At that time, the city of Fylakopi ceases to be a commercial center and begins to decline until it was abandoned altogether in 1100 BC.
Archaic period (1100 BC – 480 BC)
With the abandonment of Phylakopi, Dorian settlers from Laconia settled on the island, who, united with the previous inhabitants, built a new city west of today’s Klima area. (This area was situated between the hills of Prophet Elias, Pyrgianti and Klimatounion, stretching from the sea to the village of Tripiti and the outskirts of Plaka). This new town allowed the Milios to oversee the gulf of the island for any pirate raids, had its harbor and was naturally fortified by the three hills. At the same time, the inhabitants fortified it with walls that reached the sea and created large public buildings, the ancient theater, aqueduct, high school, market, sanctuary and cemetery.
During the period the city of Klima has a strong economic and cultural development. The pottery blooms with the famous “Milky Amphorae” decorated with elements of Greek mythology, sculpture, miniature painting, stone stucco, gold jewelery with filigree technique, and coins originally used to symbolize the apple. Also at that time there is an increase in trade, exploitation of minerals, while the local-Millian alphabet was developed, specimens of which are still preserved on tombstones.
Classical Period (480 BC – 323 BC)
In the Persian Wars the Milians fought with the rest of the Greeks against the Persians. They participated in the Battle of Salamis (480 BC) and in the battle of Plataea (479 BC) sending a group of soldiers to fight with the Spartans.
In the Peloponnesian war, however, they tried to keep a neutral stance. By denying the Athenians their participation in the Athenian Dilemma alliance, they are led into a siege of many months and ultimately a total disaster. In 426 BC the Athenians sent General Nicholas with 60 triremes and 2000 hoplites to force Milos to join the Alliance. Despite the disasters, the island was not captured this time. But 10 years later, at the instigation of Alcibiades, a new Athenian expedition led by Cleomenes and Tisia began. After the fruitless negotiations, 3000 men besieged Milos for almost two years. They destroyed the city, killed most men, and sold slaves to women and children, and in the end sent 500 heirs to secure their domination on the island.
This campaign is best described and narrated from Thucydides’ work (book E) in the famous dialogue of the Athenian-Milian, where the love of freedom and neutrality is subordinated to the law of the strongest. (Also, Euripides in the Trojans blames the Athenians for the destruction of Milos and their general expansive policy.)
In 403 BC with the end of the Peloponnesian war and the victory of the Spartans, on the initiative of Lysander, those who had survived the massacres of Milios returned to the island and slowly began to rebuild the destroyed city.
Hellenistic Period (323 BC – 146 BC)
Milos, like all the Cyclades since 311 AD. passes into the dominion of the Macedonians and then of the Antigonides and the Ptolemy of Egypt.
The peaceful conditions that prevailed at that time combined with the freedom and safety of the seas contributed to the beginning of a new period of prosperity and prosperity in which Milos cut coins and produced great works of art such as the statue of Poseidon 2.17m from Parian marble depicting the god Posidon with imposing style and raised the right hand as if holding the trident The statue was found in 1877 and is located in the Archaeological Museum of Athens. Also in the Hellenistic period was the most famous statue of the island, the famous Aphrodite of Milos.
Roman period (146 BC – 324 AD)
On Roman rule, the island’s development continues, thanks to the preservation of peace and the further exploitation and marketing of mineral wealth. The arts are progressing, remarkable statues (like Marco’s Food) and figurative heads are being created, while at that time the island is also adorned with the Ancient-Roman theater.
The city center is now transported to the “Tramythia” area. There was discovered in 1896 a unique mosaic of vineyards, fish and wild animals, which was the floor of the sanctuary of Dionysus.
Throughout this period, Christianity has begun and spreads on the island. Apostle’s acts refer to the journey of Apostle Paul from Crete to Athens and his wreck on rocky coasts. Some scholars support the transmission of Christianity to Milos by the Apostle himself, while others argue that it was through the Jews who lived in Milos at that time and traded the minerals. Whichever is the case, Christianity has spread to Milos at a rapid pace since the 1st century AD, while believers in the fulfillment of their mysteries and the burial of their dead have roamed the rocks and created the early Christians Catacombs.
Byzantine period (324 AD – 1204 AD)
After the separation of the Roman empire into western and eastern Milos passed to Byzantium, while in 842 AD. is contained in the 17th issue of the Byzantine Empire, in the “Theme of the Aegean” with Rhodes capital. The data for this long period of time is minimal, since the Empire was vast and piracy extremely extensive.
The important events of this period occur in the 5th-6th centuries, when Klima, the then capital of the island, was abandoned due to raids and earthquakes Klima and the 8th-9th century during the Iconoclasm, where the Milies, together with other islands, revolted for religious reasons against the central authority of Constantinople for religious, a revolution that was stifled.
Venetian domination and Ottoman domination (1204 AD – 1820 AD)
After the fall of Constantinople by the Franks, Milos and most of the Aegean islands are conquered by Marco Sanudo, who establishes the Duchy of the Archipelago with its capital Naxos and the inhabitants of Milos imposed an economic and social system of feudalism. The dissatisfaction and exhaustion of local farmers led to revolution in 1268. The Milios occupy the Castle, hoping for the help of the Byzantine fleet, but it never came and the movement was squeezed in the blood.
The Sandu dynasty lasted until 1361. Then Sandudos succeeded the Criss Dynasty until 1566. During their dynasty the Castro was abandoned and the capital moved to the interior of Milos, in the area of Zephyria. At that time Milos began to become a pirates’ base. The Empire of the Eastern Mediterranean (Venice) is unable to control the pirate raids and in 1537 Milos, on behalf of the Turks, occupies the renowned pirate Chairentin Barbarossa.
At the beginning of the Turkish occupation (1566-1579), Milos was ruled by Joseph Nazi, who was also the last duke of the islands. Then all the Cycladic islands, including Milos, pass into the administration of Sultan Murad III. In the years of the Ottoman domination, Milos was relatively favored, since the Turks did not permanently inhabitate the island but only received taxes through the Commissioners (local leaders elected by the people every Sunday of Orthodoxy with administrative and ecclesiastical duties). Thus, the inhabitants of Milos were able to maintain a relative freedom and cultivate their relationship with the sea. During this period, the Corsairs were withdrawn and Saracen pirates (Muslims) began pillaging and raiding.
Turkish sovereignty ceased in 1770 with the appearance of the Russians in the Aegean, but after a few years it was restored again. An important event of this period is the decline of Zephyria as the capital of the island and its total abandonment in 1767.
Modern Greek Period (1821 – 1945)
Milos was the third island in Greece that revolted against the Turks. On April 11, 1821, the first battle of the race took place at the port of Adamas. The Milios, not having their own fleet, helped the fate of Spetsi ships to destroy the Turkish ships.
The participation of the Milians in the naval battle of Navarino, where the death of Milios Petros Mikelis gave rise to the generalization of hostilities, was also significant. Peter Mickelis, commanding the British Admiral Kodrington, went to Egyptian admiral Mohammed Bey to tell him to withdraw his fleet and stay neutral. On his return, however, he was shot by a sailor in the fleet and his death was the reason for Navarino’s naval battle to begin and the Turkish-Egyptian fleet to be destroyed.
In 1830 Milos officially joined the Greek state and began to flourish by exploiting its mineral wealth.
In the Balkan Wars many Miles have died. For them, the Heroes in Plaka (for 97 deceased) were erected, as well as the Hero in the central square of Adamas.
In World War I Milos hosted the English-language fleet and Adamantas was used as a naval base for controlling the eastern Mediterranean from the attacks of the German submarines.
While in World War II the island was captured by the Germans on 6 May 1941 and was released four years later, almost the last, on 9 May 1944. During the German occupation, the Germans placed powerful anti-aircraft systems, radars and guns, and galleries in Adamanta for the storage of food and ammunition. The inhabitants have been bravely resisted all the years, many of them have died of hunger and warfare, and too many disasters and bombings have taken place.
Materials that if you do not try, you definitely have to take them with you leaving the island is:
– jars with traditional sweet cucumber, made from pumpkin peanuts, honey and almonds – local cheeses, such as dryotry, xinomyzithra and tolomoutyri, prepared with much taste in the traditional way.
– thyme honey
– delicious pasta made from tomato juice
– barley corn steaks and barley (the barley was made from the new crop of barley, initially dipped in sea water and then filled with tomatoes)
Milos has 5 museums that attract thousands of visitors every year from around the world.
Select below to see more information.
Milos has a very rich history that dates from the Neolithic period (7,000 BC) and the prehistoric city of Fylakopi. Its rich history is revealed to the visitors of the island from the monuments that have been preserved and reminiscent of its rich past.
Milos has been proclaimed a holy island by the Holy Synod, thanks to its Early Christian Catacombs. It is also one of the few islands with Ecclesiastical Museum, as well as more than 140 churches and chapels.
We recommend visiting the churches of all the villages, since each of them holds great works, icons and relics of the past centuries and in most of them you will find a special architectural and artistic interest.
The churches of Milos have a simple and simple architectural style are whitewashed and are usually located in the center of the village or on rocks overlooking the sea.