The Livadia- Marathi- Aghios Minas- Ancient Quarries Hike
An 11.5/13.5 km circular hike, from Livadia beach in Parikia to rural Marathi and back, including a visit to the ancient marble quarries. We walk on part of the old Byzantine Way to Lefkes, old footpaths and gravel roads, enjoying marvelous views to the bay of Parikia and Paros inland.
Description After gathering at the Post Office at Livadia (N Parikia coastline), we set off on a mild uphill walk though Livadia and Elitas area along dirt tracks and dry stream beds. After pausing at the chapel of Aghios Georghios to catch our breath and check out the view to Parikia bay below, we go on to find the stone-paved, ancient footpath that used to be part of the main thoroughfare from Parikia to Lefkes.
When we reach Marathi village, we continue along the Byzantine footpath, now turned into a country lane, and then ascend to the site of the ancient marble quarries, where the prized lychnite marble was excavated in ancient times by slaves, 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 quarries (South entrance and the Nymphs’ cave), looking at ancient mining marks on gallery walls and inscriptions created by visitors through the centuries, as well as the Olympian gods’ relief (350 BC) by the entrance at the cave of the Nymphs.
After a visit to the modern open air sculpture exhibition, we get back to the old footpath, enjoying the serene rural landscape of Marathi. A short scramble on old shepherds’ footpaths around Korakas hill brings us to our descent towards Elitas, from where we follow the same dirt track through the bamboo canes back to Livadia and Parikia seaside.
An extended route adds an uphill 40-min. walk around the whole ancient quarry site, including a visit to the Cave of Pan, the second ancient mining location, and a guided tour of the restored 16th c. Monastery of Aghios Minas above Marathi, a small but excellent specimen of the fort-like Byzantine monasteries of the Cycladic islands.
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In a nutshell [Ancient paths and marble quarries] Countryside/history/views, moderate difficulty (not for the claustrophobic!), distance 11.5/13.5km, duration 4.5/5.5h (incl. stops), elevation ±235m.