Mykonos Delos Island

Location: Delos

Mykonos Delos, the Sacred Island of Antiquity: The island of Delos holds a very important place in ancient Greek history, especially so politically and spiritually. It was blessed with a great geopolitical position, as the epicenter of the Cyclades complex which literally translates into "those who encircle [Delos]".

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First inhabited by the Carians in the 3rd millennium BC, it was approximately in the beginning of 1.000 BC that Delos first became a worship destination of ancient Greeks. Around the same time it was declared as the epicenter of the Aegean islands' Alliance. It was almost 6 centuries later that the Athenians attempted dominating the sacred island.

The island's first major 'Purification' was implemented by the tyrant Peisistratus in 540 BC . It wasn't until the second and final 'Purification' in 426 BC that all remnants of Delian tombs were unearthed and relocated to the nearby islet of Rhenia. Since then, no births or deaths were permitted on Delos, as respect to the sacred island of Apollo and Artemis.

After a series of conquests and commercial growth, Delos declined and was deserted in the 6th century AD.

Many centuries later, in 1873 the French Archaeological School commenced the excavations that brought the archaeological site to light, bestowing the rich Delian history upon the modern generations.

Nowadays, the pristine Archaeological Museum of Delos is one of the most significant in Greece, with a wide collection of sculptures, mosaics and artifacts of both Delos and Rhenia. Both islands are under the Ministry of Culture's guidance, which states that only with special permission may vessels dock and individuals arrive on them. Overnight stays are prohibited.

Since 1990 Delos has claimed its place in the list of World Cultural Heritage and is protected by UNESCO.

Delian Archaeological Site & Important Monuments

The plethora of ancient findings on the islands will definitely dazzle and impress every visitor with their elaborate style. As a major religious and political island, Delos features an intricate Apollonian sanctuary, with many Minoan and Macedonian structures around it.

Furthermore, in the North lie the sanctuaries of Leto and the Twelve Gods, while in the South the distinctive sanctuaries of Artemis. More sanctuaries and commercial structures (treasuries, markets, public buildings) can be witnessed. Interestingly enough, sanctuaries of Aphrodite, Hera and lesser Greek deities can be found on Delos. The Naxian and Athenian influences are evident on the remains of their structures and sculptures as well.

Some of the major monuments that can be visited on Delos are:

  • Agora of Hermaists/ Competaliasts, next to the Sacred Harbor
  • Temple of Delia (Great Temple) in the Apollonian sanctuary
  • Minoa Fountain, dedicated to the Minoan Nymphs
  • Avenue of the Lions, a Naxian tribute to Apollo’s sanctuary
  • The Theater, a large open amphitheater
  • Temple of Isis, in the Mt Kynthos Sanctuary of the Foreign Gods
  • Temple of Hera, built atop an earlier temple
  • Residence of Dionysus, a great example of Delian private houses

The Mythic Side of Delos

According to Greek mythology, Delos used to be an invisible rock floating in the Aegean, not belonging to the physical, known world. When the Titanis (female Titan) Leto was pregnant with the twin deities Apollo (god of light, music and purity) and Artemis (goddess of wild animals, hunt and chastity) by Zeus, his wife Hera presented an overwhelming obstacle. Blinded by jealousy, Hera banned Leto from all earthen places, so that she couldn’t birth her children.

Zeus then pleaded with his brother Poseidon (god of the ocean) to tie down Delos (the “visible” , as it was named afterwards) for Leto’s sake. The Titanis then held onto the island’s only palm tree, giving birth to Artemis and, nine days later, to Apollo. It was said that when the god emerged, Delos shone in light and flowers bloomed all over it. Hera spared Leto then, as her children claimed their place on Mt Olympus and protected their mother as well.

Tours and activities related to Delos Island

How to get there

Delos island is located next to Mykonos.

Tours: Explore Delos island with an organized tour of Mykonos, starting from 50€.
Tours to Delos depart from the Old port of Mykonos. Note that there are two central bus stations in Mykonos town: Fabrika and Old Port. The Old port can be reached by bus from different villages of the island. Otherwise, you can reach Old Port on foot from Fabrika (15-minute walk).

Private Boat: You can reach the island with a private yacht or a rented one.

Map Of Delos Island

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