Delos island is an archaeological sanctuary, listed by Unesco as one of mankind’s most important cultural and historical sites.
According to mythology, the island was revealed among the waves of the Aegean to Leto, who was being chased by the jealous Hera; it was the refuge where she gave birth to Apollo and Artemis.
It wasn’t long before Delos island became for Ancient Greeks the holiest place in the Aegean, dedicated to the god of light and music, Apollo, with a flourishing commercial town & harbor, large population, temples, and a magnificent theater.
The island was first settled, probably by the Kares, about the 3rd millennium B.C. In the beginning of the 8th cent. B.C. it developed into a center of worship and was the capital city of an amphictyony of Aegean island.
At the end of the 6th cent B.C., the tendency of the Athenians was to take over the island: IN 540 B.C. Peisistratos ordered the first purification of the sanctuary. As a result of the second purification (426 B.C.) the entire contents of all the islands graves were remove to neighboring Rhenia. Afterwards in order to prevent desecration of the sanctuary, both births and deaths were forbidden on the island of Apollo.
The Athenians consecrated the first “Delian alliance” dedicated to Leto, Artemis, and Apollo. In 315 B.C., when Macedonians arrived on the island, Delos achieved its independence and developed commercially.
During the Roman period, the island thrived, until, until 88 B.C.; the population included Egyptians, Syrians and Italians. Then, after two dreadful attacks during the Mithridatic War, Delos went into decline and was finally abandoned in the 6th cent A.D.
In 1873 the French Archaeological School of Athens started excavations and restoration enabling the wealth of the islands history to be revealed to everyone who is interested. The Archaeological Museum of Delos house one of Greece’s most significant collections, including rare exhibits of ancient sculpture ceramic vessels, epigraphs and wonderful mosaics etc.
Today Delos is uninhabited and off-limits for an overnight stay.
There are daily excursions from Mykonos Town towards Delos island. Boats leave at 09:00am, 10:00am and 11:00am from the Old port (pier at the west side of the harbor), right behind the little church of Agios Nikolaos at the waterfront. The boat trip takes about 30 minutes. Boats return at 12:15pm, 13:30pm and 15:00pm.
The cost is 20€ for the boat trip plus 12€ for entrance free. A guided tour, departing at 10:00am from the pier in Mykonos, will cost 50€ (including return boat tickets and entrance fee).