For the visitors of Mykonos who have several days for vacations on their disposal and are not only looking to party, we strongly encourage them to pay a visit on the nearby island of Delos. Delos is a small island of the Cyclades Archipelago (a Greek word for a region of sea) with only a handful of people as its population, which belongs to the municipality of Mykonos.
The island is however filled with landmarks, and has been of great importance during the ancient Greek era. According to the legend (Ancient Greek Mythology), Delos was the birthplace of Apollo, God of Light, and Artemis, Goddess of Hunting. The island was thus protected and considered holy, as well as sanctuary by the father of all Gods, Zeus.
In order for the island to be in proper state to serve and worship the gods of Olympus, the city-state of Athens took action, mainly between the 5th and 6th centuries BC. During that period, all graves were dug out, and the dead bodies were transferred to nearby islands or other specific for this cause locations. At some point, the whole island had been purged. After that, people were not allowed to remain on the island if they were sick or if they were in a near death state. Additionally, pregnant women were not allowed to give birth on the island, so that no one had birth rights and therefore could claim ground on the island. These actions ensured that Delos preserved its purity.
The most important landmarks on the island of Delos for you to visit would be the following:
- The Grand Temple of the Delians, which is one of the largest and most important temples dedicated to Apollo, the Kouros of which (type of male statue) was decorating the entrance of the temple. The building was constructed using the famous Doric style, but was never actually finished.
- The House of Dionysos, a private residence of presumably the 2nd century BC. The residence was also built using the Doric style, was considered luxurious, and featured multiple levels, some of which have unfortunately collapsed. It is named due to its mosaic artwork on the central hall, which depicts the God Dionysos riding a panther.
- The Temple of Hera, wife of Zeus and mother of the Olympian Gods, and the small temple of Isis, said to protect passing sailors.
- The site of the Terrace of the Lions, where you will find the seven marble lions that are being preserved up to this date, although more than ten marble lion statues were once found on that spot, "serving" as guardians to the sanctuary. This landmark was also dedicated to God Apollo, this time by the Naxians.
- Other landmarks worth visiting on Delos would be the Minoan Fountain, which served as a public well as well as a sacred spring, the marble Bust of Hermes, the House of Cleopatra and the statues at the House of Cleopatra, the House of Masks, which likely served as the place where actors of the Theatre of Delos stayed in.
Most of the monuments of Delos can be visited in a single day, and it is highly recommended that you take the time to visit this historically rich and significant place.