The sacred island of Delos was, in the myths, the birthplace of
Apollo and Artemis. Today the island is uninhabited: it is a
vast archaeological site whose superb monuments draw thousands
of visitors in pilgrimage to what was, for a thousand years or
so after the ninth century BC, the political and religious
centre of the Aegean.
The archaeological site covers almost the entire island,
starting on the west side, where the sacred harbour was. From
the harbour, a majestic sacred way led to the Sanctuary of
Apollo, where there were temples, altars, votive offerings and
other buildings. There are ruins of four temples to Apollo, one
of them known as the Temple of the Athenians.
To the east is the Sanctuary of the Bulls, an oblong building,
and to the north are the treasuries and the long, narrow Stoa of
Antigonus. In the north-west corner is the much smaller
Sanctuary of Artemis, with an Ionic temple to the goddess, and
the Tomb of the Two Hyperborean Maidens. Still further north is
the region of the sacred lake, with the Terrace of the Lions,
the Letoon, the Agora of the Italians and the Institution of the
Poseidoniasts of Berytos.
A little further along are some fine examples of houses and a
palaestra. To the north-east of the lake are the Stadium and the
Gymnasium. Some of the houses yielded superb mosaic floors with
representations of Dionysus, a dolphin and a trident.
A narrow channel separates Delos from Rhenia, where there is an
important burial ground. The Museum of Delos has sculptures of
the Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods, together
with a collection of vases from various periods.