The Marble Quarries in Marathi Paros: An interior road from Lefkes and Marpissa that passes by the side of a mountain ultimately leads to the renowned marble quarries of Marathi. This is the place where one of the finest varieties of marble is found. The Parian marble was much preferred by renowned Greek sculptors due to its transparency and fine consistency.
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The history of the world-famous Parian marble dates back to the Proto-Cycladic period and reputedly has a unique transparency. This is one of the reasons why sculptures made out of Parian marble have a distinct radiance as it allows light to penetrate the marble. Some of the all-time masterpieces of sculpture, like the world-famous Venus de Milo and Hermes of Praxiteles, were sculpted using the Parian marble.
At one point in time, as the demand for marble from Paros outstripped supply, it was considered to be one of the world's costliest marble and every sculptor's dream. According to Greek statistics, archaeologists are of the opinion that as much as 75% of all the sculptures created in the Aegean islands were made out of the marble from Paros.
The mining of the Parian marble came to a halt in the 7th century and revived once again for a short while in the 19th century when two renowned mining companies were in operation. But, in the long run, the companies couldn't sustain their operations and the quarries were once again closed down.
Visitors who intend to visit the quarries find the immense pathway that leads to the actual quarries very dative and foolhardy because it is paved with marble. As you walk along the meandering pathway, you will come across a cluster of old abandoned edifices while further ahead lie the ancient quarries.
The deserted buildings that stand on the right-hand side of the pathway used to belong to an erstwhile French mining company. It is believed that this French company supplied the Parian marble for constructing Napoleon's tomb way back in 1844. This French company also happens to be the last mining company to operate in this quarry.
Many visitors come to visit this quarry due to the fact that Napoleon's tomb was constructed from marble of Marathi and French tourists, in particular, have a sentimental attachment to the Marathi quarries.
There is an additional quarry, which is located to the left of the pathway and dates back to the 3rd century BC. This quarry is conspicuous by its reliefs of Greek gods, which are strategically positioned at the entrance itself, and is rather innovatively protected by a cage-like enclosure.
Archaeologists believe that during the height of the Roman empire, this particular quarry on Paros employed approximately 150,000 slaves who worked as miners. Although there isn't much at stake in this quarry, the adventurous guests can walk their way deep into the caves, which were once ripped open by the toiling miners. To undertake such a venture, it is advisable to have an expert guide alongside.
How to get there
The Ancient Marble Quarries are located in Marathi.
Private transfers: We recommend using an online pre-booked transfer service, which provides transfer by taxi, minibus, or private VIP car and arranging a pickup directly from the port, airport, or your hotel. Alternatively, there’s the option of arranging a pickup by a local driver directly at the following numbers: 0030 694 4540 556, 0030 694 4668 331, 0030 699 9450 800, or booking your taxi online.
Car rental: Τhere's the option of renting a car and picking it up directly from the airport, port, or your hotel. Using a rental car allows visitors to discover the Ancient Marble Quarries and many other places of interest at their own pace.
Public transport: The central bus station of the island is located at the main Port of Paros (Parikia). There are several buses from Parikia to Marathi during the day. Consider that time schedules might change according to the season. Check the official timetables here. Tip: Since buses don’t always stop at every scheduled stop of their itinerary, our advice to visitors is to inform the driver about their final destination, so that he makes a stop there.