If you like to see destinations in their natural state, and a virtually untouched historical setting then the Island of Delos is for you. Delos Greek Mythology was born in this place, many in ancient times thought this to be the Birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. There are fields of wildflowers, ancient stone houses from the 1st and 2nd Century, and evidence suggesting that this place was inhabited since 3000 BCE. It is so important to Greek Culture, that it was named a UNESCO World Heritage site. A place well worth the visit should you find yourself among the Greek Isles.
Stay in Mykonos and Take a Ferry
This small protected Island is only a short ferry ride away from Mykonos Greece. These Ferry’s are readily available during the summer months, and in the winter months run on a tight and limited schedule. The ride to the Island only takes about 30 minutes & cost about 10 euros. Be sure to check out ferry times before venturing there, and tours that can take you to Delos and surrounding islands.
Ferry rides can be purchased either on the Island of Mykonos or here. Avoid going in August as the sea can be quite rough and the boat is a smaller passenger boat. They also have 1/2 day guided tours from Mykonos for about 50 Euros as well.
History Of Delos Island
First. it was a refuge for Pirates who were expelled from Crete (note the stone huts there). Habitation dates all the way back to 3000 BCE. Eventually, in the 6th century BCE, all dead bodies were removed from the Island of Delos & people were forbidden from dying or giving birth here to keep its sacred nature for the Gods Apollo and Artemis.
It quickly became one of the most sacred places in ancient Greece. It was also the center of much of the trade for Greece at the time, because of it’s location in the Aegean Sea.
Merchants would sail here from the major commercial centers of the Aegean–Athens, Miletos, Corinth, Macedonia, Thassos, Samos, Milos, Rhodes, and Crete. In the 4th century BCE, it became the natural meeting place of the Delian League who helped protect and defend Greece from invaders and carved a niche in history for themselves as heroes. At the time it is estimated that nearly 25,000 people lived on this island.
Delos Island Can Be Very Hot
It can also be quite hot, so bring something to shade yourself.
There are minimal facilities on the island, so make sure to relieve yourself before taking the ferry and bring water. Delos Tours can take anywhere from 2-4 hours, depending on how detailed you want the tour to be, and if you have an archeological guide or not.
Visit the Delos Archeological Museum
The Island of Delos Archeological Museum contains statues and pottery anywhere from the 1st century to the 25th Century. From the outside, it looks like a rickety shanty – but once you go inside there are true ancient treasures. I just happened to have extra time waiting for my boat back to Mykonos and wandered in here (otherwise I would likely have skipped it).
It contains the original Lions of Delos to protect them from further deterioration from the elements. Artifacts found in the houses on the island, funerary statues and grave stelae, pottery, clay figurines, jewelry and small objects, and mosaics.
Visit the Different Houses & Temples
The Mosaics in these houses are some of the most well preserved in Europe. They are so well preserved, it is said they can rival those found in Pompeii. The house of Dolphins, which contains a Rosetta Stone like mosaic with dolphins in the corners still has the original artists signature.
The house of masks has a spectacularly complex array of mosaics on the floor. In the center, you can see Dionysus riding a colorful tiger, similar to the one found in the nearby House of Dionysos.
Visit the Temple of Hera with tall pillars still standing like sentries after all this time. The Kynthos Cave is mostly a man-made cave in a natural hollow on the rock near the summit of Mt. Cynthus. It is roofed by monumental slabs of
The Temple of Isis is a partially restored area, dedicated to the goddess typically found in ancient Egypt. A fantastic representation of cultures crossing even in ancient times.
The Temple of Apollo is one of the first temples you encounter and is very easy to pick out because of the Delos Lions lining the walkway. These Lions were placed here around 600 BC, and were used to inspire, awe and intimidate those wishing to visit the God Apollo. The lions here are replicas, and the originals are kept in the Delos Archaeological Museum.
Exposed Ruins and Financial Crisis
Because of the financial crisis of Greece in recent years, there are excavations still happening, funded by the French. At first, I was really upset that the ruins were not protected, preserved, or at least covered- it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site after all. It wasn’t until after I researched why they weren’t that I was able to gain a little more understanding of the complicated situation. Excavations are slow and many of the ruins are still in disrepair. So make sure to bring a detailed map of Delos to help aid your imagination in what once was the birthplace of the Hero’s of Greece.
Tours to Delos
You can tour the Delos with a half day tour from Mykonos, take a sailing boat to Delos and several other surrounding islands, or take a private shore excursion and get to your cruise ship back on time. It is up to you, but I would venture to say it would be well worth your time if you love history, nature and Greek Mythology.
I would highly recommend getting the audio tour and a map of the place. There are signs to tell you about the different sites on the Island of Delos. Most signs are in both Greek & English, giving a brief and limited explanation of this island and its inhabitants.
As Always…..Happy Travels, Happy Tales, and See YOU on the Flip Side.