Catacombs of Milos

Catacombs of Milos

Once you rent a car or a ATV or a buggy from Rac SA you can go to see the Catacombs of Milos.

The Catacombs is the largest communal cemetery of the Early Christians Age in Melos. Three large and independent subterranean galleries (A, B, C), carved in the porous, volcanic rock, formed the initial structure, and each gallery was connected with other, smaller ones. Today, three galleries form a single complex throughartificial passages constructed in the 20th century. A rectangular funeral chamber in the form of the cubicula of Rome's caracombs completes the complex. Gallery width varies between 1 and 5m, and so does gallery height (1,60 to 2,5m). The walls have been carved to form arched recesses, arcosolia, for tombs, while a considerable number of graves are found in the ground of all the galleries. Certain arcosolia, have painted decoration with their border coloured usually red and their drum painted with a deep blue colour. Only traces of thiw decoration have survived, as well as fragments of inscriptions. These few inscriptions are significant for the information they provide to us concering the names of Christians, the ranks of the ancient clergy and the belief of the first Christians to the angels, as patrons of the tombs.

The present main entrance to the catacombs has been opened at the beginning of this century. Hence, the visitors enters the second gallery (B), wich is the only one can visit at the time. On the right side of gallery B' survives the only "two-leveled" tomb of the catacombs as well as fragments of a very significant inscription, written with capital red letters within a rectangular frame. The Catacombs, besides having been a cemetery, were a place of worship, as this indicated by a piece of rock wich is left at the middle of gallery B', so as to be used as altar. During the 1928 excavational research, the traces of bases found at the four corners of the roof, in correspandance with those revealed on the ground, suggested that originally over the altar was probably a "ciborium". The figure that resembles a sarcophagus led to the assumption that this was the tomb of an official or of one of the first bishops of Christian Melos.

Gallery A', to the west of the present central gallery, is distinguished for its width, its general spaciousness and for the double family tombs, wich are carved in its wall. The entrance to the south side is today obstructed. Gallery C', to the east of the central gallery, survives only partially, as its south part, wich had the original entrance, has now collapsed.

Catacombs of Milos Map

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