History of Delos Island, Greece


History of Delos

A UNESCO world heritage site, barren, dry Delos is the smallest island in the Aegean (just 6.85 km2) was considered the most sacred of all the islands during ancient times and to be the center of the cyclades. A stone's throw away from cosmopolitan Mykonos, a visit there is a visit to the heart of sacred, ancient Greece.

Greek mythology tells us that the godess Leto, pregnant by Zeus and escaping the wrath of Hera, was able to find sanctuary here in order to give birth to Apollo, god of light and Artemis, godess of the Moon. The island was sanctified making it so no mortal would ever be allowed to be born or die on its land. Women on the brink of childbirth and people close to dying would be carried to the neighbouring island of Rineia.

Delos, under the Athenians, increased its importance when it was chosen as the meeting place and treasury for the Delian League in 478 BCE. In 454 BCE the treasury was moved to Athens and the Athenians also took over administration of the site.

Beyond the sanctuary of Apollo, there were also temples dedicated to a number of other dieties showing just how cosmopolitan the island was; Isis, Serapis and Cabeiri. The island also had markets and warehouses, and a residential area dating from the 2nd century BCE. Grid street plans and foundations of large houses, with mosaics, wall paintings, and colonnades reflect the island's wealth. Antiquities date from the Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic periods.

Every year, multitudes visit Delos to share in its magic landscape and unique archeological importance. The island is a short 20 minute boat ride from Mykonos. Boats depart daily in the summer, weather permitting.