Written by Missy Johnston

Ancient Greek ruins at the archaeological island of Delos Cyclades Greece

Ancient Greek Ruins at the Archaeological Island of Delos

Delos, the center of the Cyclades, has been inhabited since at least the 3rd millennium B.C. As did the Hellenic Nation, this island rose in importance and around 480 BC, and became the center of the Delian League. The Delian League located their treasury here, solidifying the importance of this island in the ancient world.

Today Delos is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most important archeological sites in the world. This island, located just next to Mykonos, is open to visitors 12 hours during the day, every day of the week. Visiting on a private yacht charter, is so easy. This island is certainly not to be missed.

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Delos Anchorage

Claimed as the mythological birth place of Apollo, Delos was immensely wealthy and was so impressive that the Romans retained this island as a free port when they came into power. Delos finally collapsed in 88 B.C., when conquered by Mithridates. Today, the remains of what was once a very powerful island are only partially excavated.

Delos, Greece Lion Statuary

Delos Marbled Lions

Visit the museum first which is where the famous marble lions that once guarded the sacred lake are now stored. The ‘sacred lake’ is the supposed birthplace of Apollo.

The ancient Terrace of the Lions on the Greek island of Delos.

Delos Ruins

All over the island are the remains of temples, homes, and monuments. There is also an impressive array of different cultures that left their mark on the island. Shrines for Samothracian, Egyptian, and Syrian Gods are interspersed amongst the Greek shrines.

The Temple of Isis stands high above most of the town. Entire sections of the residential areas are more or less intact. The streets are still clearly outlined, many of them with sewers running underneath. The northern section of town featured more modest living quarters with smaller apartments, each with only several rooms.

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Ancient Floor Mosiac at Delos

Wildflowers have gained foothold in the ruins. Peeking out in various places, they add color. A hill rises on the south side of town in an area known as the theater district. It is here that some of the truly opulent houses can be found with beautiful mosaic floors often showing dolphins, which symbolized Apollo, or panthers, which symbolized Dionysus.

In the House of the Masks, which is virtually fully intact, a mosaic can be seen of Dionysus riding a panther, along with another mosaic of theatre masks. Several rooms in this building contain large sections of the original wall decorations as well as the floor mosaics.

Ancient Greek ruins at the archaeological island of Delos Cyclades Greece

The Archaeological Island of Delos

It is well worth spending a full morning exploring this island and visiting the museum by having your yacht anchor in Delos Harbor, coming ashore by ship’s tender.