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The Parian marble

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Marathi, at the Ancient Querries, in Spilaio ton Nymphon (the Nymphs Cavern)
( 4th km on  Parikia- Lefkes road)
Here the quarries started operating in the archaic times and marble mining was an ongoing activity until 1881, giving the island wealth, fame and rapid development. Today, the Parian marble is still mined in quarries located in other areas of Paros.
The celebrated Parian marble, has become one of the most popular materials used in ancient sculpture and Greek architecture. The shafts have a total length of  190m and go a long way down under the earth surface. Of the three entrances to the quarries, the south one, called Spilaio ton Nymphon (The Nymphs cavern) is of particular interest. Paros land is blessed with this precious «body», white, pure, clear, fine grained, of crystal texture. The most transparent marble in the world. In the «Parian stone» also called «lychnites» (the names may have derived from its clarity or from the fact that the mine shafts were lit up with lamps (in Greek, «lychnos» means lamp) the first Cycladic idols were hewn.


Paros developed into an important artistic center with great sculptors such as Agorakritos and Skopas of Paros. The Acropolis of Athens, the Apollo temple in Delos, the Poseido temple in Sounio, Theseion, the ancient market of Athens, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, the Solomon’s temple, Vlachernon convent in Constantinople, many theatres and temples as well as Venetian palaces were hewn in Parian marble.
When going down the shafts, think of the hard work done, the sweat and blood shed by thousands of people mining this magnificent marble in the light of the lamps. From the bowels of this land emerged eternal Greek sculptures becoming part of the world heritage such as the statue of Nike of Paeonios, Hermes of  Praxiteles, Nike of Samothrace, Aphrodite of Milos etc.
Think of all the great museums in the world. The Louvre Museum, the New York Metropolitan Museum, the British Museum in London, the new Acropolis Museum.
There is not a single important museum in the world not exhibiting in its most pronounced rooms some priceless treasure made of the Parian marble. The “Parian Stone” is not currently mined and is considered to be an element of world heritage, used to decorate more than 80% of the buildings in the Antiquity, even the grave monument of Napoleon.

 

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