Zephyria

At Kanavas, 3.5km south from Adamas along the shore line road, directly opposite the electricity generating station, geothermic springs rise at c. 50°C both on the beach, with orange ferrous deposits, and under the water offshore where bubbles and movement are visible on the surface from the shore.
   Immediately beyond, a left branch leads inland to Zephyri­a (5.5km), sometimes still called ‘Chora’, a community in low lying fertile land, which from the 9th century up until 1767 was the island’s capital. When Joseph Pitton de Tournefort, the French emissary to the Ottoman Empire, visited in 1700, the town had 5,000 inhabitants and 17 churches, but it was abandoned not long after, and the populace moved to Plaka and Trypiti­. The abandonment is attested by many sources, some attributing it to a curse, some to malaria; others have recently explained it by an increase in noxious gases due to evolving volcanic activity. Today it is a quiet and under-populated village centred around the double-church of the Panaghia Portiani­ and Aghios Charalambos. The church has a particularly attractive profile: a pleasing configuration of long low vaults, different-sized octagonal drums and cupolas, emphatically pedimented windows, simply carved marble door-frames and the low arches of the mediaeval ‘porta’ to the west, which gives it its name. Its present form dates from a mid-17th century rebuilding. Spolia from an earlier church are conserved in the court on the east side. The paintings in the interior are recent, except for the areas of 17th century work on the south wall, where a Nativity scene, among others, has survived, although in bad condition because of the poor adherence of the plaster. The icons of St John and of the Virgin and Child on the templon screen are fine examples of 17th century local work. Standing in a field 200m north of the Portiani­, the roofless ruined church of Christos in a delicate grey perlite stone, now inhabited by a large colony of white doves, is a poignant reminder of the abandonment of the town. The elegant building was of an interesting domed tri-conch plan: sections of the dome and vaults lie col lapsed in the nave. The curious double blind-arch, on the exterior wall above the aperture of the west door, suggests that the building also had a vaulted narthex.
   Southeast from Zephyri­a the road continues to the south coast at Palaiochori, a tiny settlement on a shingle beach backed by low cliffs, whose name, meaning ‘old town’, refers to an Early Christian settlement on the site, which was already ‘old’ by the time Zephyri­a was settled in the 9th century. The cliffs have many colours of volcanic rock and there is once again considerable geothermic activity. There is a fumarole with visibly escaping steam from a gash in the hillside in the field to the right hand side as you descend to the shore: other fumaroles and springs are concentrated around the far end of the second smaller bay to the west. Beside one of the tavernas on the shore is an area of sand which is so hot from the underground heat (in excess of 100°C) that it is used for slow-cooking meats in terracotta vessels.

Milos Island is part of the Cyclades Island Group, Greece.
Zephyria.

 

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