Delos the Fabulous Island!
When you step onto Delos Island, you’ll find yourself in the most significant mythical site in all of Greece. It lies in the middle of a circular ring of islands known as the Cyclades, just 4.8km (3 miles) from the island of Mykonos.
The deserted island of Delos is linked to one of the saddest myths.
The beautiful Leto slept with Zeus and this union bore two children, Apollo and his twin sister, Diana.
According to myth, Leto was looking for a place to give birth to her children, but she was not accepted anywhere, as people feared the revenge of Hera. After coming to the infertile island of Delos, Leto vowed on the sacred waters of Styx that her son would not forget his motherland and, as a god, he would establish his first temple there. Thus, the island gave its permission to Leto to give birth to her children there.
Another myth claims that Delos was a nymph with whom Zeus fell in love. Delos, out of respect for Hera, became a star and fell into the sea. Zeus got angry with her and punished her by leaving her wandering in the sea. When Leto arrived here and asked if she could have her children, Asteria -the island’s name at the time- embraced Leto with affection. When Apollo was born, out of gratitude, he erected four columns, the island’s foundation on the bottom of the sea. The island has been called Delos ever since, as its position was stabilized and obvious for the first time (“delos” means obvious, in Greek).
Unlike Mykonos, Delos thrived in ancient times. The first inhabitants were Kares, but after the settlement of Iones, the island became a religious and commercial centre.
Delos was occupied by the Athenians, the Macedonians, the Ptolemies, the Romans, while in 88 BC it was totally destroyed by the Persian general Mithredates, during his war against the Romans.
Delos suffered severe damage in the raids of 88 B.C. and 69 B.C. Since then, the island’s prosperity gradually came to an end.
In the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D. only a small settlement existed on Delos and, as Christianity had gradually replaced the ancient religion, the island finally lost its importance.
However, Delos was never forgotten; many references are preserved by travellers who visited the island in the last centuries.
Numerous pieces of sculpture were transferred to Museums of Greece and abroad, while marbles from the ancient buildings were used as building material by the inhabitants of the nearby islands. Excavations on Delos started in 1873 by the French School of Archaeology at Athens (and are still carried aout).
The religious, political and commercial centre of the island has already been revealed, along with many private houses. Additionally, large-scale restoration work has been undertaken.
In 1990 Delos was included in the World’s Cultural Heritage, protected by the UNESCO.
Overnight stay, camping and all relative activities are STRICTLY PROHIBITED in Delos.