Delos: The history of the enchanting island located a stone’s throw away from Mykonos
Starting from the mythological birth of Apollo and Artemis, Delos is a unique opportunity to experience an immersion into the ancient Greek civilization.
26.05.2021 Mykonos Post
Delos, one of the smallest islands in the Aegean, has enormous historical significance, and is one of the most important and sacred places in Greek history. According to the myth, Apollo and Artemis were born on the island, while it is believed that light, the most precious gift of Gods, was born there too. Around 2,500 BC the first inhabitants built their huts at the top of Kynthos, a point of high altitude (113 meters), in order to be able to check the area around for possible invasions. Later, the Mycenaeans, having consolidated their rule in the Aegean, settled in Delos in the 15th century BC, which since 1100 BC had been occupied by the Ionians. The Persian invaders respected the sanctity of the island, which after the war with the Medes came to the sphere of influence of the Athenians. Rome conquered the island,like the rest of Greece, in 168 BC. Under Roman rule the island became a great trading post, with a large number of inhabitants and a massive movement of goods. It was destroyed and looted twice: in 88 BC and in 69 BC, becoming thus abandoned and forgotten. It turned into a refuge for wandering pirates.
However, the excavations of 1872 revealed the Sanctuary of Apollo and a large part of the cosmopolitan Hellenistic city, which had been created in the distant past. A huge number of historical objects have been collected, including about 30,000 vessels, figurines, small objects, 8,000 sculptures, 3,000 inscriptions. Many of these findings from the excavations are now exhibited in the Delos Museum, built in 1904. Dimitris Athanasoulis, head of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades, emphasizes the importance of the excavations, stating that “The Cyclades have a great cultural cohesion. They have all the characteristics of insularity because
they are small, located in the center and functioned as links between different civilizations. The civilization that was developed there cannot be found anywhere else”.
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Since 1990 the whole island of Delos has been designated as a World Cultural Heritage monument and is protected by UNESCO. The island includes a number of monuments, such as The Agora of the Competaliasts, The Temple of the Delians (the last and largest of the three temples of Apollo), The “Terrace of the Lions”, the Theater, The Temple of Hera, etc. However, the protection of the archaeological, architectural, and historical findings of the monuments is a major issue. The Ephorate, with the aid of important sponsorships, is working hard in order to maintain, restore and promote the importance of the archaeological site, in an effort to protect the authenticity and historicity of the sacred island. Dimitris Athanasoulis, pointing out that restorations are necessary, adds: “Delos is a living problem. We try in every way to make the place worthy of its importance and traffic. We believe that the restoration works in Delos are necessary, not only for the visitors to be able to understand the monuments but also for their rescue”.
All these monuments and archeological sites are open to visitors, who can learn a lot about the history of the island. One can go to Delos by ferry from Mykonos, Paros, Naxos and Syros.There is a regular ferry connection from Mykonos, which is the closest Island, so most visitors and employees travel to Delos from there. The round-trip ticket is 18 euros. Admission to the museum or tour is not included in the price. The entrance fee to the Archaeological Site and the Museum is 5 euros. It should be mentioned that Delos is uninhabited and off-limits for an overnight stay.