On Saturday we took a day trip from Mykonos on a 16 passenger, 51 foot sailboat to the archaeological site on Delos island and the uninhabited island of Rineia. The latter island was our first stop after an hour long sale in strong winds and rolling seas. Mykonos is known for its high winds, and the locals have developed special names for the winds that blow through there: “the bell-ringer”, the “chair-thrower”, and “the unseater of horsemen”. It was the first time for all four of us on a sailboat that size.Because of the strong winds and cool water, it was pretty cool going over. You will notice that I was the lone holdout for wearing a jacket. We anchored in a cove with beautiful blue water. The island was once used for farming and had several buildings including this small church.The shoreline was dotted with ruins including this building that was very popular with the blackbirds. We had the choice of snorkeling or taking a dingy to shore, but we (and most other passengers) opted to relax on the boat. Following a lunch on the boat we set out on a thirty minute sail to Delos.
Delos is a small island about three miles long and less than a mile wide, but it was one of the most sacred places to the ancient Greeks as it was the birthplace of two of their most important deities, Apollo and Artemis. The island was inhabited as early as 2500 BCE. The sanctuary to Apollo was established here in the 9th century BCE when people from all over the Greek world came to worship Apollo, the god of light, and his twin sister Artemis, the moon goddess. From the 9th century through the second century BCE, Delos flourished as a free port and center for all commercial activity in the eastern Mediterranean. It became “the greatest commercial center of the whole world”. The prosperity of the island and its friendship with the Romans ultimately led to its destruction and abandonment after two successive attacks by enemies of the Romans and pirates.
We took a guided tour through the ruins of the shops and houses of Delos.One of the buildings had this elaborate mosaic floor. The centerpiece of the mosaic in the building is a reproduction and the original is displayed in the museum.The site had many Greek columns, but most of the statues had been moved to the museum.This is the main road leading to the entrance of the sacred site. The remains of buildings along the road were once shops so you could complete your shopping before reaching the sacred area. Kind of like all the souvenir stands lining the streets to a tourist attraction today.A row of lions stands guard over the sacred lake where Apollo rose.Apollo is believed to have risen from the middle of the sacred lake where the palm tree stands.The distant hills of Delos had more ruins, but we didn’t have time to get to them. It was a fun day! The weather was cooler and the seas were rougher on the hour and a half trip back to Mykonos. Bruce stopped being a hero and wore a jacket going home. Susan is proud to report that she didn’t get seasick despite the rocking of the boat.