The sacred island of the ancient times is located 6 n.m. southwest of Mykonos. It covers an area of 3.4 square kilometers and has a population of 14 inhabitants, who work at the archaeological site and the museum of the island. Together with the neighboring Rhenia, they form Deles. According to Thucydides, Carians were the first who “discovered” Delos, while during the 16th century it was inhabited by Mycenaeans and later by Ionians, who made it their religious center. The ancient pilgrimage center of Apollo reached its highest peak after the Persian wars, when the First Delian League was established and it was decided that the official meeting place as well as the treasury of the city states would be held in Delos. That was when the island acquired wealth and great power, of which the Athenians were not very fond. In 454 BC, under the pretext of security, as the Peloponnesian war was raging, the aforementioned decided to transfer the treasury to the Acropolis. Later, when the Delians began claiming the treasury back, the answer they were given was the island’s “catharsis”; the Athenians opened the tombs and transferred the bones and the funeral gifts into a mass grave (known as the Purification pit) in the neighboring Rhenia. They also banned births and deaths on the sacred island, while in 422 BC they banished all Delian population. Approximately three centuries later, in 166 BC the Romans declared Delos a free port, giving a boost to the trade and practically inaugurating a second thriving period. Temples, baths, palaestrae, markets, luxurious residencies and workshops were built at the valley of the Temple of Apollo, where almost 30.000 people inhabited … The beginning of the end started in 88 BC, when Mithridates, the king of Pontus plundered the island of Cyclades. “Worthy” imitators, the pirates of Athenodoros invaded themselves too in 69 BC, leading Delos to darkness. The golden city with the columns, the mosaics, the statues, the palaestrae, the ancient theatre and the bygone wealthy districts came to light again in 1873, after the excavations of the French Archaeological School of Athens. In 1990 Delos was declared a monument of global cultural heritage by UNESCO. Today, in the archaeological site of Delos one will see Arcades, Markets, worship centers and temples as that of Apollo, of Artemis, of Leto, of the Athenians etc. You will also see the avenue of Lions and the Theatre district with the ancient theatre from the 3rd century BC. Spending the night on the island is prohibited.
You can access Delos by tourist boats that depart daily at 09:00, at 10:00, at 11:00 and at 17:00 from the port of Gialos, next to the church of Agios Nikolaos.