Ancient quarries that made Karystos world-famous
In antiquity, southern Karystos was famous for its marble. The ancient quarries of Ochi are to be found on the southern slopes, between the villages of Mekounida and Aetos.
Strabo wrote of the renowned “Karystos columns” which were monoliths. The quarries were so busy that in Marmari, the main port for exporting Karystos marble, a temple for the cult of Marble Apollo was built. The most intense quarrying took place during the Roman era. During the eras of Julius Caesar (60-44 BC) and Augustus, Karystos marble was highly sought after in Rome, particularly for monolithic columns. It was also used to line walls and for flooring. Even today, in Monastiraki, in Athens, one can admire the monolithic columns of Hadrian’s Library.
The most notable monument of ancient quarrying is situated in Kylindroi, in Myloi. Gigantic 12-metre-long monolithic columns, the “cylinders” as the locals call them, can still be seen where they were quarried. The most interesting thing is the possibility that the ancient quarries might be associated with the “Drakospita” (Dragon houses) of southern Evia. There is a theory that the Drakospita were temples dedicated to the patron of quarries, Hercules, who looked upon them from afar and would inspire the workers to continue their difficult work. A military emergency, perhaps the threat of the fall of the Roman Empire in the 3rd century AD, caused the departure of the Roman garrison and the closure of the quarries.
Many exciting hiking trips may be organised using Myloi as the point of departure. This is also the last way station for any mountain climber ascending Mt Ochi. The most remarkable resting point is this ancient quarries preserved at the top of the valley of Myloi. Above the quarry, the great rocks of Kakia Skala dominate the trail that continues on to Mt Ochi. A medieval cobbled road which passes under imposing precipices still exists.
Birds of prey, Bonelli’s eagles and short-toed snake eagles nest in the vicinity of Kakia Skala. During the fall migration, one can see the flight of golden eagles, griffon vultures, honey buzzards and other rare raptors. Additionally, the great rocks shelter many rare wildflowers.