Welcome to the Profitis Ilias Chapel, on Milos, a Greek Island in the Cyclades. I had scouted this location during the day, which required skirting a farmer’s field, passing by some crumbling stone walls, and then hiking nearly straight up the side of a hill that overlooked the large bay in the center of the U-shaped island. The trail was overgrown and, well, let’s just be real for a moment—scratchy. The trail was scratchy, and it scratched my legs all up.
When I came back that night, it was much cooler and much buggier, but equally as scratchy. The previously unoccupied field was now occupied by a Greek farmer shepherding a fairly large herd of goats across the trail. Although I tried to keep my distance, the farmer didn’t look too happy about me deciding to visit the chapel beyond the bounds of daylight. Or maybe he was worried that I was going to spook his goats. Or maybe he was considering whether he’d have pork or chicken souvlaki for dinner, I honestly couldn’t really read his facial expression or body language that well in the dark.
Once I got past the goat herd and herder, I headed back up the hill to the chapel. I spent about an hour up there taking photos. For being on such a high promontory (by this island’s standards, anyway), the air was still and calm, just a slight cool breeze to make the mosquitoes work for their meal.
If I stood on the cool whitewashed barrier and threw myself off of it, down the hill, I’d eventually end up not far from where the Venus de Milo was discovered in 1820, by a local farmer. If I continued rolling down that hill, I’d eventually come to rest at an old Roman amphitheater that’s in the process of being restored. It was, and still is, a magnificent venue with an incredible panoramic view of the bay behind the main stage. In fact, the whole island was littered with Roman ruins. If you look carefully on the right side of the photo, you can see half a dozen whitewashed Roman columns just lying around. One of the columns was built into the church, on the left side of the door. On the back side of the chapel you can see evidence of how a fallen column was used as the base of the church.
In the present day, if I continued going downhill from the Roman amphitheater, which was below where the Venus de Milo was found, which was below this tiny chapel on a hill, I’d get to a small village that hosted at least half a dozen barking dogs. This village is just barely visible on the far left side of the photo, and you can see a bunch of anchored boats floating in the harbor by it. This tiny village built by the bay had about half a dozen syrma in it, colorful little boat garages built right next to the water. As idyllic as that scene is, I wouldn’t want to live there, because seemingly half the town’s residents are dogs that bark all night.
Behind and to the right of the chapel, you can see Plaka, or Milos’ old town. This is ground zero for the island’s nightly traffic jam, which occurs when people try to drive into the old town, only to realize that the streets are too narrow to allow for cars and that all the nearby parking is full.
About an hour past sunset, the large LED panel that lights the outside of the chapel turns on. It’s solar powered, and its battery is likely fully charged after a day spent in the hot sun. On the inside of the chapel, both day and night, candles burn.