Located near the Greek island of Mykonos and part of the Cyclades, sacred Delos is the birthplace of the Greek God Apollo and his twin sister the Greek Goddess Artemis and one of most important archaeological and ancient sites in the Mediterranean. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
According to ancient sources, Zeus (Greek king of all Gods) had an affair with the beautiful young goddess Leto. Hera, rightful goddess wife of Zeus, was furious and barred every place in the world from giving the pregnant Leto a place to give birth.
The whole Greek world followed Hera’s order – with the single exception being Delos, a floating, unimportant, barren, rocky and windswept island that thought it had little to lose by giving sanctuary to Leto. So with a safe haven in Delos, Leto rested under a stately palm tree and gave birth first to Artemis and then Apollo.
It is said that as soon Apollo, God of the Sun, Prophecy and the Arts saw the light of day, the island began to glow and the whole world shone.
Today, Delos consists of rich and extensive archaeological ruins from antiquity when as Apollo’s sanctuary it was a prosperous and cosmopolitan Mediterranean trading port and attracted pilgrims from all over the Greek world.
Even today a trek to the summit of Mount Kynthos, the highest point on Delos will reveal modern dedications and small shrines to Apollo, even one by my good self!
The ferry ride to Delos from Mykonos is about 30 minutes; however visitors are not allowed to stay on the island – apart from archaeologists working there. In antiquity there was a law in place that forbade births and deaths on the Island. Pregnant women and persons gravely ill were transported to the adjacent island of Rheneia to avoid breaking the sacred law.
All images, text and content are copyright Steven Sklifas.