ARCHAEOLOGY


THE BIRTHPLACE OF APOLLO WILL AMAZE YOU

The legendary birthplace of Apollo, the god of light, and Artemis, the goddess of hunting, promises an experience of a lifetime, a journey into the cultural heritage of Greece and not only.

The legendary birthplace of Apollo, the god of light, and Artemis, the goddess of hunting, promises an experience of a lifetime, a journey into the cultural heritage of Greece and not only. No one can deny that this sacred island has reserved its exclusivity to the world. An island hosting a series of monumental buildings and statues on a territory used exclusively for showcasing its rich history. According to mythology, the children of almighty Zeus and Leto were born on this sacred island. Tradition has it that Leto found shelter on Delos, as provided from Poseidon, to born Apollo and Artemis, as she was hunted and chased from Hera, the wife of Zeus who was known for her jealousness over her husband’s lovers and illegitimate offsprings. As of that time, Delos was transformed as a holy place, and immortals were forbidden to ever live or die on Delos – the main reason why Rhenea isle served as the burial site of Delos’ inhabitants.

Often characterized as the cradle of Western civilization, Delos was once a magnificent city conveniently situated between Europe and Asia. The island was first inhabited in the 2nd century BC on the hill of Kynthos, followed from the Mycenaeans and the Ionians who settled and made Delos their religious capital around 1000 BC. Throughout the Archaic and Classical eras, the  Apollonian sanctuary experienced its highest glory since Greeks from all over the world assembled on Delos to worship Apollo and Artemis. By the 7th century, Delos was the political capital of the Amphictyonic League, followed from the seat of Delian League of the Greek cities that was ruled from Athens with the purpose of fighting against future threats and invasions.

During the Hellenistic and Roman times, when Delos was declared as a free commercial harbor, the island reached its peak and became the greatest financial and trading center of the Mediterranean. At that time, the population of Delos was 30.000, consisting of foreigners of the Eastern Mediterranean countries including Rome, Syria, and Egypt. The society, with the different cultural backgrounds and various nationalities, lived in peace and harmony.  Delos, though, was attacked from the king Mithridates of Pontus during the Roman domination (88 BC). 20,000 of the inhabitants were killed or solved for slavery, the majority of the temples’ treasures were stolen and the glorious city was destroyed. Although the Romans wanted to revive the city, pirate invasions led by Athenodoros pirates (69 BC), an ally of Mithridates, prevented this from happening. Delos was finally abandoned, captured successively from Byzantine, Slavs, Saracens, Venetians, the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem and the Turks while it was often used as a pirates’ shelter for centuries. In 1872, the French School of Archaeology began the formal excavation projects that still continue up until today.

An open-air museum awaits archaeology and culture seekers to discover one of the most sacred spots of the ancient world. Located in the center of the Cyclades, the magnificence of Ancient Delos casts its shadow in the future. Undeniably, Delos is a must a visit. Do not miss this unique opportunity to discover the cradle of Western civilization.

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