While we were taking a ferry across the Grecian Sea to the Island of Delos, my daughter who at the time was 18 years old commented, “No wonder people wrote stories about crossing the sea in Greece”. As we both looked out onto that deep sea, riding the choppy waves with harsh winds in our faces, I thought to myself how clever she was.
There were many stories and myths written about the Ancient Greeks, and one of the most important myths was the Island of Delos. According to Greek mythology, the island of Delos is where Leto found refuge in order to give birth to Apollo and Artemis. There was no water or signs of life on the island, which gave Leto a perfect place to give birth.
She was seeking refuge and hiding from Hera, the wife of Zeus (the father of Apollo and Artemis). Many believe that Zeus asked his brother Poseidon to create the Island for Leto, as the word “Delos” means “appearance” in Ancient Greek. Just from the premise of the story, you can see why the Island of Delos has significance and became an important archaeological site.
DELOS – UNESCO WORLD HERRITAGE SITE
From the Bronze Age (3500BC) people had inhabited the island of Delos. Throughout its centuries of history, this island had become a religious site, meeting place, trade port for slavery, and had many other uses. Today, Delos is a deserted island with no inhabitants. Although, its primary use is an archaeological site, as well as a day trip tourist destination, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Lions of Delos
The Avenue of the Lions that stand guard on the island of Delos are replicas. To view the original marble lions, you will find them inside the Delos Archaeology Museum. They are kept inside a controlled environment to preserve these treasures from further erosion.
The lions were put in place around the 6th or 7th century, and were dedicated to the Sanctuary of Apollo. It is believed that there were originally up to nineteen lions along the Avenue of Lions, but only four remain.
Delos Archaeology Museum
The Archaeological Museum of Delos houses an extensive collection of statues, artwork, and other artifacts that were unearthed in the surrounding area of the ancient site. The museum contains a great collection, but not all of Delos’s artifacts can be found in its museum. A considerable quantity are also on display at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.
Getting to Delos
Getting to Delos was very simple by taking a ferry from Mykonos’s Old Harbor. We had pre-purchased our tickets online, and it was easier to have them on hand when we arrived. Although you can purchase tickets at the Old Harbor prior to departure.
When we arrived at Delos, we were given a map and information of the excavation sights. That worked well for us because we were able to explore the island on our own timing, without a tour group.
The island of Mykonos is the most common departure point for Delos. Although during ‘High Season’ other islands including Naxos and Paros will have ferries to Delos.
If you are wanting to visit with an organized tour group, there are several online sights that you can book with. Another option to visit Delos is by private charter, and you can ask your hotel prior if they know of any reputable guides with their own boat.
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