Being in Mykonos and not visiting Delos is like missing the opportunity for a tour on the Acropolis while in Athens.
[dropcap font=”” size=”1″ background=”” color=”” circle=”0″ transparent=”0″]I[/dropcap]n the ancient Greek culture, Delos, a small rocky island in the center of the Aegean Archipelago, was considered as the most sacred of all islands. According to the ancient myths, it was the birthplace of Apollo, ancient god of the sun, and his twin sister Artemis, goddess of hunting.
The excavations in Delos started in 1873 by the French School of Archaeology and are still in progress under the direction of the Ephorate of Antiquities of the Cyclades, making them thus one of the most extensive and important archaeological research in the Mediterranean. Since the non-inhabited Delos Island is neighboring with Mykonos, the French archaeologists were the first official Mykonos “tourists”, as every evening after work they had to cross the small sea passage between the two islands to find lodging and food.
However, once upon a time, Delos, which was first settled in the third millennium BC, was buzzing with life. Especially after 167 BC, when the small island was declared a free port, it became the center of the commercial activity of the eastern Mediterranean, attracting merchants and ship-owners who built luxurious houses with magnificent frescoes. In 69 BC, after being attacked twice by enemy forces, Delos was abandoned.
Today, the entire island of Delos remains a huge archaeological site, attracting every year millions of visitors from around the world. The ancient monuments, including among others the Temple of the Delians, the Minoan Fountain, the Terrace of the Lions, the Temple of Hera, and the Theater, offer a breathtaking, once-in-a-lifetime view that becomes magical during sunset.
A tour in Delos must include a visit at the local Archaeological Museum, where most of the exquisite ancient findings are kept. The rest are in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.
In 1990, UNESCO included Delos on its World Heritage List, where it is cited as “the exceptionally extensive and rich archaeological site”. To visit this unique beauty all you have to do is book a guided tour or just take the boat from Mykonos that will take you there in no more than 30 minutes.