DISTANCE FROM MYCONOS: 6n.miles, about 30
Everyday trips from the port of Myconos.
Surface area: 6 km2
According to Greek Mythology Leto
refuged to Delos haunted by the wrath of the godess Hera and
gave birth to Apollo and Artemis. Also, Theseus visited the island on his return from Creta
where he had eliminated the fierce Minotaur.Thucidides reports the Cares as the first inhabitants of the island.
In 1000 BC the Ions settled in the island, making it a
religious and political center of the islands of Aegean under the protection of Naxos.
Every four years the Delia were celebrated to honor of the god Apollon. During the Persian
Wars all the Persians respected Delos, as a holy place and didn't destroy it. The
Athenians transferred the tombs that existed until then in the island to the island Renea showing their domination as well as their respect in that
holy island, forbidding births, and the burning of the dead. Later the inhabitants of
Delos allied with the Spartans, managed to overthrow the Athenian domination, for about 10
years, until 394 BC when the Athenians conquered the island
again. In 315 BC the inhabitants of Delos, taking advantage of the disunity of the
descendants of Alexander the Great, managed to win their freedom and make the island
flourish and become a tourist center, gathering an immense
amount of riches. In 88 BC, while the island was still under the Roman domination the king
of Pontos Mithridates the 5th
warring against the Romans, lands on the island, destroys a
great part of the monuments and kills about 20.000 inhabitants of the island. It was then
that the great downfall came. The Christians that settled later in the island, were later on, as it proved to be using the greatest part of
the ancient ruins in order to build their houses, a tactics that was followed by the
inhabitants of the nearby isles, a thing that soon ended up in Delos being without cany of
its "treasures", that soon became very few.
especially after the repeated visits of "antique - worshippers", until 1877 when
the excavations had begun, while only in the beginning of this century has the island
began to be basically guarded.
Delos was the most important Panhellenic
sanctuary, and, according to mythology, the birth-place of Apollo and Artemis. The first
signs of habitation on the island date from the 3rd millenium B.C., and important remains
of the Mycenaean period have been uncovered in the area of the sanctuary. In the 7th
century B.C. Delos was already a known Ionic centre because of its religious importance as
the birth-place of Apollo. Athenian influence was initiated on the sanctuary with the
first purification of Delos by Peisistratos in 540 B.C. but it gradually developed into a
proper domination lasting - with short intervals - until the end of the 4th century B.C.,
when Delos was finally declared free and independent (314 B.C.). The independence of the
island lasted until 166 B.C. when the Romans gave it over to the Athenians.
The second Athenian domination started with the
definite expulsion of the Delians to Achaia, in the Peloponnese. The declaration of Delos
as an "international" harbour by the Romans led to an influx of foreigners who
became a significant element of the island's population. The absence of taxes resulted to
the concentration of trade activity on the island and, subsequently, to its economic
prosperity. The close relations of Delos with Rome, though, was the main reason for its
decline. During Mithridates' wars againts 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
Delos was a sacred place with splendid buildings
and sanctuaries and as such, it 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. Between 1904 and 1914,
under the direction of M. Holleaux and thanks to the donation of Duke de Loubat, the most
significant sections of the ancient site were uncovered.
Intensive excavations were conducted in the years 1958-1975. The excavations are still
carried out by the French School of Archaeology, but the religious, political and
commercial centre of the island has already been revealed along with many private houses.
Restricted excavations were also conducted by Greek archaeologists at the beginning of the
Large-scale restoration work has been undertaken
by the French School of Archaeology mainly in the sector of the private houses, but in the
recent years, the 21st Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities has also carried
out similar work. Several columns have been rebuilt and ancient houses have been roofed in
order to protect the mosaic floors (House of the Trident, House of the Masks, House of
Hermes). In 1990 Delos was included in the World's Cultural Heritage, protected by the
The most important monuments of the site are:
Agora of the Competaliasts
One of the main markets of the Hellenistic city is an open square directly abutting
the Sacred Harbour, paved with large flat stones of gneiss, many of which have post-holes
for tents. On the north side lies the Portico of Philip and a small Ionic temple dedicated
to Hermes, the god of commerce, while shops and workshops flank the market along the east
and south sides. At the centre of the square stand the foundations of two marble monuments
(one square and one round), also dedicated to Hermes. Around them, bases of monuments
erected by bankers, ships' pilots and merchants are to be seen. The whole complex is dated
to the last quarter of the 2nd century B.C.
Temple of the Delians
The Temple of the Delians or Grand Temple is the latest and largest of the three
temples dedicated to Apollo. It is a "peripteral" Doric temple with six columns
on each of the narrow sides and thirteen on each of the long ones. Its construction began
in 478 B.C. but stopped around the middle of the 5th century B.C., when the League' s
treasury was transferred to Athens. Work was resumed later on, during the period of Delian
independence, but was never actually finished.
The Minoan Fountain, referred to in the inscriptions and identified by a relief
bearing a dedication to "Minoan Nymphs", is a public well hewn in the rock. It
was covered by a square building, open on the south side, which was flanked by a Doric
portico. The water level could be reached by the stone steps on the south side. The
fountain was constructed in the second half of the 6th century B.C. and remained in use
for a very long time, until the late Hellenistic period, when it was finally converted
into a house.
of the Lions
The marble lions dedicated to Apollo by the Naxians at the end of 7th century B.C.
stand in a row facing eastwards, towards the Sacred Lake. They are reckoned originally to
have been sixteen in number, but only five lions and the remains of three more, standing
on modern bases, can be seen in position today. The headless body of another lion now
decorates the Arsenal in Venice. Bordering the west side of the road leading from the
harbour in Skardana bay to the temples, they were the eternal guardians of the Sanctuary.
Establishment of the Poseidoniasts from Beirut
It was the club house of an association of Syrian shippers, merchants, bankers, and
warehousemen bound up by their desire for racial kinship and the desire to worship the
national gods but also for the protection of their commercial interests. It consists of a
central peristyle court, around which are arranged various rooms and temples dedicated to
Poseidon, Hercules and Rome. Dated to the last quarter of the 2nd century B.C.
Rectangular platform to the NW of the Sanctuary, containing a statue of Dionysos
flanked by two actors impersonating Paposilenoi (now in the Museum). On either side of the
platform, a pillar supports a huge phallus, the symbol of Dionysos. The southern pillar,
which is decorated with relief scenes from the Dionysiac circle, was erected in ca. 300
B.C. by a Delian named Karystios in order to celebrate a victorious theatrical performance
sponsored by him.
The preserved marble theatre was constructed at the beginning of the 3rd century B.C.
and replaced an earlier, wooden one. The upper (epitheatron) and the lower part of the
theatre, which are separated by the diazoma, are not concentric. The first row of seats,
which is for the privileged, is followed by twenty-six stone tiers in the lower part and
seventeen more in the epitheatron, divided by eight stairways into seven cunei, that could
accommodate about 5.500 spectators. In front of the round orchestra, the remains of the
stage-building (skene) are to be seen.
Small Doric temple within a sanctuary shared by the familiar triad Serapis, Isis and
Anubis, located on a high terrace by the foothill of Cynthus. Built at the beginning of
the 2nd century B.C., it was repaired by the Athenians in 135 B.C. and still contains the
cult statue of the goddess. Isis, known by a variety of cult names, gave people good
health and fortune and protected the sailors.
Temple of Hera
Doric temple constructed in around 500 B.C.; under its cella were revealed the
foundations of an earlier temple, dating back to the beginning of the 7th century B.C. In
the remains of this earlier temple, a large number of Archaic vases and other votive
offerings were found (now exhibited in the museum), many of which bear incised votive
inscriptions to Hera. The altar of the goddess was erected to the south of the temple.
The "House of Dionysos"
The "House of Dionysos", thus named after the famous mosaic floor depicting
Dionysos riding a panther, is a good example of a private residence, dating from the last
quarter of the 2nd century B.C. A covered passage leads from the entrance to a peristyle
court, on which open the rooms of the ground floor. At the centre of the court there is a
cistern for the collection of water, covered with a splendid mosaic floor. A stone
stairway leads to the elegant private rooms of the upper storey.
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