One of the most sacred places in ancient Greece was the island of Delos, right next to Mykonos. Visiting sacred Delos is a chance to explore what was once an amazing place to be.
Travel to Delos from Mykonos
There aren’t any villages to see, shops to browse or restaurants to eat at on Delos. This is one of the most unique Greek islands you will have the chance to visit. It is the remains of a fascinating ancient Greek city. A short boat ride from Mykonos will take you there. Since 3,000 B.C., people have lived on Delos but its heyday was around 1580-1200 B.C., the Mycenaean period.
It is one of the smallest islands in the Aegean yet it was so very important. Why? It flourished thanks to trade. Located in the heart of the Aegean Sea, Delos was a prime stop for traders who did their business in the commercial port. Back then imagine that Delos was considered a cosmopolitan city with many diverse faces from the region. Trade was one thing and its sacred nature is another. French archaeologists started discovering the secrets of sacred Delos in the late 19th century.
Archaeologists found many sacred temples that were dedicated to Apollo, Artemis, Hera, Zeus, Athena, Hercules, and Asclepius. These temples were grand. They were made of marble, wood and gold with fantastic and impressive statues and décor. One temple was dedicated to the twelve Olympian gods. There were other buildings of which archaeologists have not figured out their reason for being built to this day.
Society and Life on Delos
Other Delian structures proved what kind of society existed, a lively community indeed. There was a theatre for 5,000 spectators, a beautiful gateway entrance to the complex of temples, a gymnasium, a hippodrome and several market areas for trading. The sacred lake of Delos was once guarded by stunning marble lions.
Delos was also the destination for one of the biggest “parties” during ancient Greece. The Panegiris was a huge celebration in honor of Apollo. The Delia, an Athenian inspired festival, was held every five years here. Imagine that during such events there were organized athletic competitions, live music, dancing contests, feasts and parties. People made the trip to sacred Delos from across the ancient world.
The Importance of Delos
Today, historians point out over and over again that Delos is truly unique. It is an island that is really an open-air museum of such monumental antiquities from the Archaic, the Classical, and the Hellenistic periods. You can walk through it and learn stories behind the ruins, use your imagination to reconstruct the temples and marketplaces and imagine what life was like during the days of sacred Delos.
Have you ever been to Delos? Did you know it was a sacred island?
Photo credits: Travelpassionate