In 2009, the Holy Synod proclaimed Milos a sacred island, because the Catacombs constitute the most ancient monument of Christianity. It was the first gathering place of the first Christians and they were used as a municipal cemetery for the first time in the end of the 2ndcentury BC. The Catacombs of Milos are of a unique size in the entire of Greece and one of the most famous and remarkable Christian world monuments next to the catacombs of Rome and of the Holy Land.
This labyrinthine complex is composed of three big-initially separate-subterranean colonnades (A,B,C) carved in the porous volcanic stone, five corridors and one rectangular burial chamber in the form of cubicula in the Roman Catacombs. Each Catacomb is of a different width (1-5meters) and a different height (1,60-2,50meters). Its total length is 185metres and today 126 “arkosolia” (carved arched tombs) are preserved in the inner sides of the colonnades. The “arkosolia” were decorated with colors (red fascia on the crown and dark blue color on the spandrel’s surface), but today only scare traces of their colorful decor are preserved.
The Catacombs’ form today is due to some 20th century interventions, such as the entrance to the burial chamber B and the passages uniting the three initially separate catacombs. Today you are allowed to visit only the colonnade B’, the Catacomb of the “Elders” as it is called, and to go around it on a wooden platform. In the left side of this catacomb, the only two-storeyed tomb of the Catacombs is preserved , as well as pieces of the most significant inscription with red capital letters written within a rectangular frame. In the center there is a rock, where most possibly one of the first bishops of the Melian Christian community had been buried and the first Christians used it as an Altar in their liturgies.
From the Catacombs that are non-open to visitors, Catacomb A (west from today’s central colonnade) is of a big width, it has a spacious burial chamber and it is characteristic for the double family tombs carved in its inner sides, whereas Catacomb B (east from today’s central colonnade) is only partially preserved and it is worth having a look at the traces of frescos in it (one of the few preserved early Christian frescos where branches with flowers and birds are depicted).