Settled around 3500 BC, by 1000 BC, Delos was already a religious capital for the cult of Apollo. Polycrates, the Samos tyrant, conquered the Cyclades in 550 BC, but respected Delos. Glory years followed for Delos with both good and bad - both concerned her relationship with Athens.
The rise of Athens meant myths needed to be remade to fit new political realities and the Athenians were clever at inventing stories to connect themselves with Delos, even so far as to have the Oracle at Delphi order the purification of Delos - meaning the removal of all old tombs in an attempt to alienate Delians from their past.
From the dock at Delos, you can wander through the ruins at length. There are so many ruins and from so many periods of Delian past that it really helps if you do some reading on the history and mythologies of the island before coming. A little knowledge makes the site much more meaningful and exciting. The major sites are labelled and to walk around them takes 3-4 fours.
Epicenter for the Cult of Apollo was the Sacred Lake - now dry - surrounded still by a small wall. Here, Apollo was born. Near the Lake were several temples to Apollo, to Leto - Apollo's mother - and the famous Terrace of Lions - made in the 7th Century BC by Naxians. The view over the empty ruins is either haunting or a beginning point for someone with a fertile imagination.
In 490 BC, the Persians, under Darius, occupied Delos. They respected the site - Persians, for the most part didn't worry about changing people's religions as they were about getting a little tribute - even going so far as to burn incense to Apollo. The battle of Salamis saw an end to the ebb of Persian influence in Greece and to prevent further incursions, Athens organized the Delian Alliance - a grouping of Aegean islands centered upon Delos, to be defended by the Athenian fleet in return for a yearly sum and ships to help support the navy - the money being adminsistered by Atheneian administrators on Delos.
When walking in the vicinity of the Sacred Lake, the different temples, walks, sanctuaries, houses are a history lesson for the ancient world. They are also a testimony to the success of the marble quarries on Paros and Naxos from where much of the Delian marble came from.
The Delian Alliance was effective in bringing about a Pax Athenia to the Aegean. The 'contributions', however, began to take the form of tributes, with time, leading to islandere resentment. Perikles, in 454 BC, in order to better 'protect' the Alliance's treasury, had it removed to the Athenian Acropolis. All the easier to spend it repairing damage from the Persian Wars and to beautify the city. Worse yet, following a harsh plaque that swept through Athens, the cause was determined to be the wrath of Apollo and a second purification of Delos was ordered. Old tombs were removed again, but this time a decree was made forbidding births and deaths on Delos. The pregnant and dying had to remove themselves to the neighboring islet of Rheniea. Relations were at a low, to be sure.
Near the three temples of Apollo is the Bull's Shrine, built by the Athenian tyrant Dimitrios the Beseiger. The shrine held an entire trireme, in honor of the sacred delegation ship of Athens - supoosedly the ship was the same one that brought Theseus back to Athens following his outing with the Minotaur in Crete.
During the Peloponnesian War, Delos turned to Sparta for help against Athens. Sparta, using their unique form of logic, declined. If Delians could not be born or die on their island, then they were technically foreigners and Delos was not their homeland. Why help foreigners? Of course, Athens was not to pleased by the Delian overtures to their enemy and it was time for another purification. In 422 BC, the entire Delian poopulation was exiled to the Asia Minor. Delain leaders were executed. Exile only lasted for a year as war's misfortunes caused the Athenians to rethink their strategy and reverse policy, therby, hopefully pleasing the gods. Spartan victory brought better times to Delos, though the disagreements with Athens were never forgotten.
The Delian Alliance was ended with Macedonian predominance. Delos flourished becoming not only a religious center, but a center for commerce, as well. Many new buildings and new shrines were built during the Macedonian period. Rome defeated the Macedonians in 166 BC returning Delos to Athenian sovereignity. Of course, a fourth purification was called for and the Delians were exiled to Achaia. The purification was short-lived, though, with the fall of Corinth in 146 BC. Now, was Delos grandest period of commercial success, becoming one of the most important ports for east-west trade. People came here to live from all over the ancient world and were allowed to worship in their own separate ways - there is ruins of a synagogue, a sanctuary for both Syrian and Egyptian gods all from the same time frame of 2nd Century BC.
In many of the houses, you can see beautifully preserved mosaic floors from this Hellenistic-Roman period. Homes of the ancient worlds.
In Romes war wtih Mithradates of Pontus, Delos was robbed of many of its treasures in 88 BC. 20000 people died and the women and children were taken away into slavery. General Sulla rewon the island, but 19 years later, history was repeated as pirate allies of Mithradates destroyed Delos again, taking the population off to the slave markets once more. General Triarius regained the island for Rome and fortified it with walls, but the island never recovered.
Walking through the Theater Quarter, past many of the grand old houses, you come to the Theater of Delos. Built in the 2nd Century BC, the theater could hold 5500 people.
Hadrian tried, unscucessfully, to revive the cult of Apollo and the decline o fDelos continued. In AD 363, Julian the Apostate tried to renew paganism on Delos but after the Oracle warned, 'Delos shall become Adelos' ('Visible shall become Invisible'), he gave up. Theodosius the Great banned all pagan ceremonies in the spirit of non-tolerance. A small Christian community survived until the 6th Century, after which the island became the lair of pirates and home contractors.
Across from the Theater of Delos, you wil find a graceful eight-arched reservoir. This was the main residential area in the 2nd Centruy BC.
Walk to the top of Mt Kynthos - 110 m/360 ft - passing the temples to Syrian and Egyptian gods, the Sacred Cave - an apollo-oriented oracle -and the Shrine of Good Luck (an ancient version of St Jude). Atop Kynthos, settlements have been seen to date to 3000 BC, but it is the view you will come here for. A truly ethereal outlook encompassing most of the Cyclades. Haunting views over what was and what is.
Wandering around Mykonos Town in the evening, you may come across 1-2 professional photographers that are offering their services. I don't think too many people take advantage of this unique opportunity, but we did, and it was a memorable highlight of our trip. We met Themis, our professional photgrapher for the day, at 4 in the afternoon. He took us all around Mykonos Town finding the right shadows, lighting, and photogenic spots. Then he took us in his car to a house north of Agios Stefanos, where we could take more great photos. This is a really great thing to do, and how many other places in the world can you so easily make such an arrangement? Themis took about 150 pictures and had all of them on CD plus had printed over 50 of them by the end of the evening. We had a great afternoon, saw some places we wouldn't have found on our own, met a really nice guy, and have lots of photos to remember our special day. All of our friends who have seen the photos loved them and want to go to Mykonos to do the same thing!
It is not cheap, but it is worth it....from 270 Euro and up--better check with Themis yourself for prices. He stands on the main street in the evenings right by the Alpha Bank--everybody knows this bank. Even if you don't use his services, stop by and tell him Wade and Leo from Vienna send their greetings!!!
There are all kinds of paths all around the Mykonos and between the beaches. It's very enjoyable to walk them and take in the beautiful views. This picture was taken around 6:30 am , our first morning on the island ,walking the path between Paraga and Paradise beach. We woke up very early and decided to check out the area . It seemed we were the only ones awake anywhere. We really enjoyed the tranquility and an early morning stroll became part of our routine throughout our stay on the Greek islands
AnoMera is the capital of Mykonos.It is right in the middle of the island,so this helped all these years to stay out away of overcrowded.Last few years things changed and that is because people who own vacation homes in the island, needed a place not so noisy to get there for dinning.
Thats how all happent.Now in AnoMera's big square, across the old monastery of Panagia Tourliani,you 'll find a number of beautiful taverns.Choose the one you like more and get in.
Is perfect to spend an afternoom,mainly if you go swimming on SE beaches of the island.
Also ask someone to get you to Paradosiako Kafenio (traditional cafe). Ask them a greek coffee (elliniko), or a frape coffee and taste as many different sweets as you can. Homemade and absolutely gorgeous...
Mykonos has some excellent beaches to get a tan, meet people, relax or party. One of the best beaches for all of these is Super Paradise Beach about 4 miles from Mykonos Town. Getting to the beach can be had by car, taxi, boat out of Plati Gialos or a shuttle from the old port during the day. A beach in the blue water bay with crowds of sun worshippers, mostly in their 20-30's, but all ages are welcome to party all night long. Everybody seems to show up at Super Paradise from the actors and society types, to the tourists, and those interested in an all over tan. Yes, portions of the beach are for those desiring to shed all their clothes for the freedom of the body. There is a restaurant and bars at Super Paradise and one can feel the charms of Greece with a glass of Ouzo, a fresh fruit platter with honey and Greek yogurt. Opa! After the beach tans are had, the fun begins in the disco. late afternoon till the wee small hours of the morning.
By the way, in my photo ( REMOVED FROM MAIN PHOTO AS TO NOT OFFEND ANY VT MEMBER OR VT STAFF THAT HAS AN OVERACTIVE IMAGINATION.) with the Virtual Tourist flag, the motto seems appropriate; "The people behind the places (R)", as it seems I am behind the flag au natural, but no gasps as I am wearing my speedo swim trunks. I may be daring at times, but I wasn't quite ready to get a full tan in front of others at the no clothing beach areas. If you want to be free and have a relax fun time, Super Paradise just may be the beach for you.
If you like nudism , theres a nudist beach just to the right of Elia beach. Its between big rocky plates and you can throw away your pants :) mostly for gays but there are women too . Try this if you love nature with no clothes
scooters are only 30 euros for a day. it's a fun way to explore parts of the island on your own or with a friend. my friend and i took seperate scooters and we ended up zipping around the island for the day. on a whim, we took a left instead of a right at an intersection, and we came upon this beach. very isolated as there were about 10 other people here, but it was so serene (sp). i was sitting on top of a rock while i took this shot.
So, Delos did become Adelos. House builders on Tinos and Mykonos used Delos as their marble quarry. Delos became a pasture. Forgotten by most until the major archaeological excavations began in 1872 which continue today.
The Paraportiane church appears to have been constructed during the settlement of the fortress (Castro) of Chora during the 15th and 16th centuries. It is a two storey building that houses five little churches.
The brilliant white exterior together with the beautiful blue water and sky, make for incredible picture opportunities.