The Lefkes- Pigados- Ancient Quarries Hike
A 10/13 km hike on the hills, from the medieval capital of Lefkes to the ancient marble quarries in Marathi. Inland & sea views on age-old footpaths in the heart of Paros, exploring nature, tradition and history. Can be extended on the Byzantine footpath back to Lefkes (circular route).
Description Departure from Paroikia on the early morning bus and arrival at Lefkes village, the old island capital. We start with a brief tour of the medieval part of the village and continue on a flat or mildly uphill dirt track Changing route, we find ourselves in an old walled footpath that eventually takes us up the heights of Pigados hamlet. This has a few rough patches, especially as we move uphill, however nothing to spoil walking pleasure or the enjoyment of the views to the ravine of Pigados and the pezoules (century-old, stone-built terraced fields) across the hills, as well as extended sea views to the E-NE. That’s the beauty of Paros island; you can wander in hidden, forgotten trails on the inland, almost never losing sight of the sea!
In spring and early summer, the landscape is dotted with multi-colored wild flowers, fragrant herbal bush and cypress and olive trees. On the top of Pigados heights, we enjoy the spectacular views to the Paros-Naxos channel and beyond on the one side, and Mt. Strouboulas and Aghioi Pantes (724 m) on the other. We continue on a winding, descending route to Marathi on concrete-paved and dirt road, then moving along the valley and the fields to arrive at the 17th c. Monastery of Agios Minas, a well-preserved specimen of the medieval fort-like monasteries of the Cycladic islands, beautifully located on the hillsides above the valley of Marthi. After a visit to the monastery, we start on the downhill track to the site of the marble quarries. There, from the classical times up until the 19th century, the prized lychnite marble was excavated to be used in masterpieces such as the Venus of Milos, the Hermes of Praxiteles, the Acropolis Kore, the Nike of Delos and the Nike of Samothrace. Using headlamps, we go underground to explore the corridor between the two interconnecting entrances to the quarry, exploring the galleries, ancient mining marks and inscriptions left by workers/visitors through the ages, as well as the Olympian gods’ relief (350 BC) by the entrance of the Nymphs’ cave.
After our lunch picnic on site and a visit to the modern open-air sculpture exhibition, it is time to get on the return bus to Parikia, or get the bus to picturesque Lefkes for a visit and/or a meal at the island’s old capital.
An extended version (12 km, 4-4.5 h, circular) is available, ending the route back to Lefkes, following the beautiful stone-paved Byzantine footpath winding through Kostos valley and finally the old, uphill footpath through the olive groves of Apati, to the village. We lounge at any of the traditional cafés there with a glass of iced ‘souma’ (the local grappa-style spirit) waiting for the bus back to Parikia.
In a nutshell [Villages, valley trails & ancient marble] Countryside/village/history/views, moderate, distance 9/12 km, duration 3.5/4.5 h (with stops), net elevation 80 m.