Delos is a Greek island and archaeological site in the Aegean Sea’s Cyclades archipelago, near Mykonos. The mythological birthplace of Apollo, it was a major religious center and port during the 1st millennium B.C. The island’s ruins encompass Doric temples, markets, an amphitheater, houses with mosaics and the iconic Terrace of the Lions statues. The Archaeological Museum displays statues excavated from the site.
The mythical birthplace of twins Apollo and Artemis, this Unesco World Heritage Site on the small island of Delos is one of the best-preserved and most important archaeological sites in Greece. First settled by the Greeks around 3000 BC, the island became a shrine to Apollo around 800 BC and a thriving, multicultural center of trade in the centuries that followed, with Syrians and Egyptians adding shrines of their homeland gods to the existing Greek ones. Under the Romans, Delos became a duty-free port and important slave market, but the island’s importance diminished as trade routes shifted and by 300 AD the island was languishing in obscurity, used as a hideout by pirates. Delos is accessible by boat from Mykonos. Use your imagination to transform these extensive, well-preserved ruins into the gleaming city that once stood here.
As you make your way around the ruins from the Sacred Harbour, where the tour boats dock, sights not to miss include the Sanctuary of Apollo, lined with the remains of three temples dedicated to the god, the Artemision – a sanctuary of Artemis, Apollo’s twin sister, and the Terrace of Lions, lined with the much-photographed replica lion statues. Nearby is the overgrown Sacred Lake where Leto gave birth to Apollo and Artemis after hiding from the wrath of Hera, Zeus’ wife, Zeus being the twins’ father.
In the Theatre Quarter, formerly home to Delos’ wealthiest inhabitants, spot the mosaic depicting the wine god Dionysos riding a panther at the House of Dionysos, and another superb mosaic featuring lions, dolphins and griffins at the House of Dolphins. If you have time, it’s well worth climbing Mt Mynthos for great views of the surrounding islands and to visit the Sanctuaries of Zeus and Athena.
The most famous displays are the iconic Naxos stone lions, ancient mosaics and the columns of the House of Dionysus.
If you choose to visit Delos on your own, it will cost you €17 for the boat trip. Plus, there will be an additional €5 for the entrance fee. (Students are free, the cost is €3 for those over 65).
Guided tours depart at 10AM from the Old Harbour in Mykonos Town. Most guided tours cost € 40, and this includes the fee for the boat trip and the entrance fee.