The islet of Delos, near Mykonos, is considered to be one of the most important historical and archaeological sites in the whole of Greece and it is probably one of the most visited too.
Delos was considered the birthplace of Greek gods Apollo and Artemis and the island became the sacred centre of a major religious cult between 900BC and AD100.
The island of Delos lies about 10 kilometres south-west of Mykonos and it is a vast open-air archaeological site. The island pulls in thousands of day trip visitors each year, mainly from Mykonos but also from several other islands in the Cyclades as day trip boat excursions to Delos are hugely popular with holiday visitors.
Regular archaeological excavations have been carried out on Delos since 1873 and in 1990 UNESCO put the whole of Delos island on its World Heritage Site list.
Treasures on the island include the famous Terrace of Lions, carved marble animals that once lined and guarded the Sacred Way; the Sacred Lake is where Apollo is supposed to have been born; the Minoan Fountain was carved into the rock and it was fully reconstructed in 166BC, several market squares, or agora, (Delos was once one of the biggest slave trade centres in the Mediterranean); temples to various gods and some quite magnificent private houses dating from the 2nd century AD.
The entire island is strewn with the foundation remains of buildings, marble statue fragments and pillared wall sections and, not unremarkably, Delos is considered one of the most impressive and extensive archaeological sites in the whole world.
Many cultures have left their mark on the island of Delos, with shrines to Egyptian and Syrian deities among those built to the Greek gods.
Many sections of the residential area are remarkably intact given their age and the streets are clearly outlined. Mosaics remain on the walls and floors of some of the more opulent houses and Doric columns still stand that once supported the upper floors of homes and religious buildings.
Boats leave Mykonos every day (except Monday) for trips to Delos. Visitors only get a four-hour stay on the island, hardly enough to enjoy more than a fraction of the treasures here so, if you want to make the most of the island it's probably a good idea to book a couple of trips. The Delos island museum houses many of the most important sculptures.