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Aphrodite of Milos  

Cape Vani

Manganese Mine

Cape Vani is situated on the North-West of the island, 25 km away from the harbour of Adamas. Although you can easily drive for the first 20 km, for the last 5 km you have to follow a very rough, hilly road. Heading to the other end of the island, approaching the western part (Chalakas), you will find yourself in a place that is hardly familiar. A peaceful and quiet area full of light which will make you feel you have simply crossed over to another dimension, to a totally different world.

The way to Vani is most impressive in the afternoon, once the sun has started its way down.

The mine is a huge and deep opening at the edge of the cape, by the sea, surrounded by rocks vertically cut, with horizontal layers in black and ruby red color.

Cape Vani, Milos

Cape Vani, Milos

Your descent will be a bit difficult due to the radial, long ditches towards the old galleries which after numerous, successive levels lead to the bottom of the mine.

Looking up to the steep cuts of the rocks one can see the entrances of unreachable caves that may have been galleries or even houses. Just above the mountain tops all you see is the great big blue sky.

Yet, right across, in between the ruins of buildings you will be able to see a crevice through which you catch a glimpse of the sea.

Cape Vani, Milos

Right in the middle of the mine there is a big, rectangular stone building with three doors and three windows on its front side, still standing proudly right in front of a massive pile of black powder that obviously remained after processing.

The ground everywhere around is full of thin red-yellow sand.

A bit further, there are ruins of high buildings in between a narrow passage leading to a small beach full of colorful pebbles and stones. On the left, the great, impressive rock of Cape Vani almost reaches the sky.

Opposite Vani you can see Akradies, small rocky isles with the characteristic lighthouse marking the entrance of the harbour. Looking far towards the right side you will be able to discern the picturesque Plaka, capital of Milos.

Cape Vani designates the western entry point to the gulf of Milos. Millions of years ago it used to be the bottom of a caldera at the bottom of the sea. This is where the manganese deposits were formed.

Explorations first took place in 1871 and it was not until 1898 that the exploitation of the mineral began.

Exploitation was initially undertaken by the company "Solomos" and later on by a company owned by the "Serpieris", a hellenized family of Italian descent who also owned the mines in Lavrio of Attica.

The workers used to stay in the mine during the whole week. If the weather was good they were able to sail from Vani to Adamas in fishing boats after finishing their Saturday shift. But most usually they had to walk all the way to Embourios.

There were 250 workers in total:

  • 150 men were mining the mineral from the mountain.
  • 50 women and children were manually sorting out the produce.
  • 50 men were loading and transporting the final product.

Cape Vani, Milos Cape Vani, Milos

The average annual production was 15 to 18 thousand tons containing 32-41% pure manganese. Of the total production, 70% was exported to England, France and the USA, while 30% was sent to the mines in Lavrio.

Demand was reduced during World War I. The mine stopped operating in 1928 and it has never reopened ever since.

The total amount of manganese exported from this mine was 220,000 tons.

Cape Vani, Milos

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