Delos is a truly unique island. It’s not a nightlife hot spot or a beach lover’s paradise. In contrast, it is full of relics and ruins and its archaeological sites are a must see for all lovers of ancient history. It is a barren island with no natural resources, and is covered with white marble monuments.
Its harbors are protected by the three islands that are located close to it. As the surrounding islands are lined in the shape of a circle, the island group was called the Cyclades.
The whole island seems to be like a museum, as it is covered with ancient ruins, remains of houses, parts or whole temples, mosaics and statues.
House of Cleopatra, Delos Island
Delos is a UNESCO World Heritage site that helps you get a glimpse into the ancient Greece. It is home to one of the most remarkable archaeological excavations in Greece, as well as in the whole of the Mediterranean.
A Little Bit of History
This is the mythological birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, and as such this island was an important pilgrimage site for ancient Greeks. It was not only a religious destination, but also an important financial and political center.
Ancient Theater, Delos Island
The Delian League was an alliance of city-states that was formed to guard against Persian attacks. Soon this alliance became an economic powerhouse and turned into an empire.
Phoenicians were the first inhabitants of the island and then the Ionians occupied Delos in 1100 BC. The Ionians initiated the worship of the god Apollo and they developed the island into a powerful commercial and spiritual center.
During the 5th century BC, the Athenians organized a purification of the island and forbid the burial of the dead on it.
The next purification was conducted in the 4th century BC and this time they forbade all births and deaths on the island. The dead were transferred to the neighboring island of Rhenia.
The city prospered under the Romans and became an important port.
Avenue of the Lions, Delos Island
In 88 BC, the King of Pontos destroyed Delos and Mykonos in the war against the Romans. There is no historical information of this city after this period.
In spite of having limited natural water sources, food and timber, the island was capable of sustaining prosperity.
The naturally available rain water was exploited with an extensive cistern and aqueduct system, wells and sanitary drains.
The pool of the Minoan Fountain is still fed by a spring and a flight of steps descends to the pool to a depth of 4 meters, so that water could be drawn even when the level was low.
The excavations of the rich archaeological finds of Delos started in 1873 and are continued by the French School of Archaeology. Today, the island’s landscape consists solely of ruins unearthed.
The gift shops offer some unique Delos-themed items that can be taken back as souvenirs.
Things to See
- Temple of Delians
- Avenue of the Lions
- Temple of Hera
- Mount Kynthos
- Open Air Museum
- Temple of Isis
- House of Masks
- House of Dionysus
- Cleopatra’s House
- Theater Quarter
- Other popular Cycladic Islands: Santorini, Syros, Mykonos, Kithnos
There is no accommodation on the island and it can be visited only on a day trip. It is only 2 km/1.3 miles from Mykonos and a ferry can take you from Mykonos to Delos. During summer, there are excursion boats arriving from Tinos and Paros.
Delos is the best place to learn about the ancient history of Greece and the Mediterranean. It is a treasure trove of archaeological sites, floating on the waters of the Aegean Sea.
We wish you a fantastic Mediterranean cruise!