The island of Delos, near Mykonos, is an archaeological site that played a major role in ancient Greek history, especially politically and spiritually.
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The island was dedicated to the Greek gods Apollo and Artemis.
It is not inhabited and overnight stays are prohibited.
Many monuments can still be seen today and there is also a very interesting archaeological museum. It is one of the most significant museums in Greece, with a collection of sculptures, mosaics, and artifacts.
Visit the sacred island of Delos, one of the most significant archeological sites in the Cyclades, with a long history that dates back to ancient Greece! Delos is linked to many aspects of Greek mythology and this is the perfect opportunity to get to know its history better.
Embark on this six-hour sailing cruise to discover the beautiful beaches of southern Mykonos and Rhenia island, swim and snorkel in the turquoise waters, and enjoy a traditional Greek lunch on board! Admire the archaeological site of Delos island on the way, and have a relaxing and exciting ...
According to Greek mythology, Delos used to be an invisible rock floating in the Aegean, not belonging to the physical, known world. When the female Titan Leto got pregnant by Zeus and gestated the twin deities Apollo (god of light, music and poetry) and Artemis (goddess of wild animals, hunting and chastity), his wife Hera presented an overwhelming obstacle.
Blinded by jealousy, Hera decided to ban Leto from all earthen places so she could not give birth to her children. Leto started wandering around the Aegean Sea, trying to find a place where she would be protected and get the locals’ consent and assistance with the birth. Zeus then pleaded with his brother, Poseidon (god of the ocean), to tie down Delos for Leto’s sake.
The woman held onto the island’s only palm tree, giving birth to Artemis and, nine days later, to Apollo.
It is said that, when the god emerged, Delos shone in the light, and flowers bloomed all over it. Hera ended up sparing Leto, as her children claimed a place on Mount Olympus and protected their mother.
Apart from a major part of ancient Greek mythology, the story of Leto’s journey also shines a light on the geological form of the Aegean since it constitutes a primary mapping of the area.
The plethora of ancient findings along with the elaborate style of the island will dazzle and impress every visitor. As a 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 lie the sanctuaries of Artemis. Interestingly enough, sanctuaries of Aphrodite, Hera, and lesser Greek deities can be found.
More sanctuaries and commercial structures (treasuries, markets, public buildings) can be witnessed, too.
Some of the major monuments that can be seen on Delos are:
• Agora of Hermaists/ Competaliasts, next to the Sacred Harbor
• The Temple of Delia (Great Temple) in the Apollonian sanctuary
• The Minoa Fountain, dedicated to the Minoan Nymphs
• The Avenue of the Lions, a Naxian tribute to Apollo’s sanctuary
• The Theater, a large open amphitheater
• The Temple of Isis, in the Mount Kynthos Sanctuary of the Foreign Gods
• The Temple of Hera, built atop an earlier temple
• The Residence of Dionysus, a great example of Delian private houses
Delos was blessed with an amazing geopolitical location right at the center of the Cyclades complex. In fact, the name “Cyclades” literally translates to “those who encircle [Delos]”.
First inhabited in the 3rd millennium BC, it was approximately at the beginning of 1000 BC that Delos first became a worship destination for ancient Greeks. Around the same time, it was declared the epicenter of the Aegean Islands’ Alliance. Who first inhabited the island is still widely unknown. According to Thucydides, the first ones on the island were the Careans, a group of people who had settled in Anatolia (the area of present-day Turkey), however, more recent research and excavations have debunked this theory. In later eras, Ionians were living on the island.
After the Persian wars, in 478 BC, the Delian League was founded. It was an alliance consisting of Greek city-states under the leadership of Athens, intending to continue to fight the Persian Empire. Delos was the league’s meeting point, where congresses took place in the temple. The treasury of the alliance was also located there until Pericles moved it to Athens, a symbolic gesture showing the supremacy of the Athenians, who started using the funds for themselves. A second Delian League was founded until the Macedonians gave Delos its independence.
During the Peloponnesian war, the Athenians decided to “purify” the island of Delos. The purification began by opening every grave, moving all the remains and offerings into the nearby Rhenia islet, and burying them in a common pit. They decided that no one was to be born or die on the island, and in 422 BC, they exiled all the population that then moved to Anatolia, restoring the sacred identity of Delos.
At its peak, Delos became a commercial center as the Romans established a port, and up to 30.000 people inhabited it. After a series of conquests and lootings, the island started to gradually decay and was deserted by the 9th century AD. The ruins were then used as building materials by populations of the surrounding islands.
How to get there
Delos island is located next to Mykonos.
Tours: Explore Delos island with an organized tour at the best price.
Tours to Delos depart from the Old port of Mykonos.
Private Boat: You can reach the island with a private or rented vessel.