Centre of the island Palaiokastro & Skiadi

From just north of the Aghios Minas inlet (4km from Chorio on the road to Prassa), a track branches left (west) into the central hills of the island, climbing through an attractively green maquis.
After just over an hour by foot (4km) from the junction, you come to a narrow saddle with the meeting of four rough tracks: first right leads down to Monastiria Bay, with the church of the Panaghia Monastiriotissa behind the shore; the second branch (anticlockwise), slightly left of straight ahead, descends to the church of Aghios Giorgios in the is land’s central valley; the third branch, which we take, leads left for Palaiokastro and Skiadi. After a further 15 minutes (1.3km) the driveable track reaches another saddle with the first views of the sea to the west of the island on the right side. From here a footpath branches to the right and curves round, first heading west then north onto the ridge of Palaiokastro. After 15 minutes it splits once again: left (west) for Skiadi (15 minutes); and right (north) for Palaiokastro (30 minutes).
Palaiokastro is a bold site on which to create an all-seeing acropolis; it sits at 365m above sea-level, at the island’s summit. There are the remains of two clearly different periods: the impressive runs of large, ‘Cyclopaean’ boulders which constituted the fortifications of what was probably a defensive acropolis of the Archaic period; and the mediaeval walls above, which are made of densely packed smaller elements. There are also the remains of mediaeval buildings, a bastion and several cisterns. The slopes below the summit were intensively terraced for cultivation. The view encompasses the Western, Central and Southern Cyclades; and on exceptional days, the coast of the Peloponnese is visible beyond the steep hump of Antimilos.
Taking the turning for Skiadi instead, the path descends into an eroded landscape of rock formations over looking the west coast. After about 20 minutes the path brings you to a bizarre rock standing over four metres high, eroded by wind into the shape of a large fungus, with a dark umbrella of harder rock on top of a stem of white, referred to locally as ‘τό σκιάδι’, ‘the parasol’ or ‘sun shade’: its size is sufficient to shade a large group of people. (The continuation of the path will bring you down eventually, past the church of Aghios Panteleimon, to the bay of Mavrospi­lia (see above). The alternative is return to the main track above, which leads back south to Chorio (45 mins). Ten minutes after regaining the main track, a paved path leads up to the church of Prophiis Eli­as and beyond to an abandoned rural settlement: be side the path are large, almost ‘Cyclopaean’, runs of boulders. Further south, the main track passes the church of Aghia Kyriaki­, beyond which is a deep, rock-cut cistern which collects water from one of the few, weak springs on the island.
The view beyond Chorio, as you descend, is towards the uninhabited island of Polyaigos . It was the valuable pasture that this otherwise waterless islet afforded which must have been the cause of contention between Milos and Kimolos for its possession in the 4th century bc. Be cause of its lack of fresh water, the island has only known seasonal human habitation throughout history. Today it is a valuable bird and nature reserve: after the Northern Sporades Marine Park, the waters between Kimolos and Polyaigos are one of the most favoured habitats of the Centre of the island Palaiokastro & Skiadi. Visits to the island and its exceptional beaches can be arranged privately from Pollonia on Milos (Blue Water Travel (Warwick Tours), T. 22870 41234).


Kimolos Island is part of the Cyclades Island Group, Greece.


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