“Once you’ve seen one Greek ruin, you’ve seen them all” Or have you? What about visiting Delos Greece?
We’ve been in Greece for over a month now and thus far we’ve hit the ancient archeological sites of Olympia, Delphi, Athens/Acropolis and most recently, the uninhabited island of Delos. Furthermore, we anchored below the beautiful ruin on top of the cliff in Sounion (see picture below).
Thus far, my favorite still stands at Olympia but every archeological site has been magnificent – and for different reasons. I enjoyed Olympia because we were able to run across the original Olympic stadium. To me, that was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Read Running the stadium track at Olympia Greece, where the Olympics first started in the 10th century BC
Delphi was fantastic as the ancient site stood on the side of a mountain containing some incredible ruins and views. Furthermore, we went with two other boatloads of friends, making the trip truly memorable. Read Visiting Delphi – We made it to the center of the ancient World
As for the ruins in Athens…I’ve been privileged enough to have seen them a few years ago, so the impact this time wasn’t as strong. Actually, I found the ruins at the base of the Acropolis, like the Agoras to be far more interesting. That aside, my visit to Athens was with my cousin Loryn and her friend Christine which made the day very special. For the first time I was able to go through a museum and archeological site without my daughter. It was nice to look at what I wanted to look at and spend time absorbing things slowly rather than racing around!
But what about visiting Delos Greece? Is it worth the effort to get there?
No one lives on the island of Delos and it’s not a destination you’ll come across by accident. Dating back to 2500 BC, Delos is one of the world’s most important archaeological sites. It’s the birthplace of the mythological sun god, Apollo, and his twin, Artemis, the goddess of the moon and the hunt. The island was the most sacred place of worship in ancient Greece.
Interestingly, in 426 BC, the Athenians decided to ‘cleanse’ Delos and it’s thousands of inhabitants were told to leave. No one was allowed to be born, die or be buried on the Holy island. Since then it’s been uninhabited. Currently there are a handful of people that live on the island but that’s to maintain the archeological site.
Delos being an island, you have to make specific plans to visit it. Close to the Greek island of Mikonos, you can take a ferry to the island for 18 euros or I did notice that you can anchor nearby and take a tender to the little port. The anchorage didn’t look very safe but we had friends that anchored and visited the site successfully. I’m told that you can’t anchor overnight. Once on the island, the entrance fee is 5 euros and another 5 for an optional person-led guided tour.
We moored up just outside the town of Mikonos in a marina and then took a 5-minute waterbus to the main town center. Five of us then boarded the ferry with anticipation. My husband, cousin, cousin’s friend and my daughter entered the ancient site and thought, WOW – look at all the stuff.
Literally, there were columns, building footings, bricks, walls and roads all over the place. As far as the eye could see, there were ruins. A few modern houses and a museum were easily identifiable but otherwise, it looked like a junkyard of rock, marble and old stuff.
One of these days I’ll have to find out why archeologists don’t put the ruins back in place. Perhaps you know the answer to that?
Each building was surrounded by stones, pieces and parts that must belong to the building – or one close by. Maybe it’s just too expensive? I just couldn’t help wanting to see something in it’s original state.
That being said, some of the ruins had walls up to the ceiling, mosaic floors and columns within the building. It wasn’t too difficult to imagine what they looked like back in the day. We also came across a few statues. Furthermore, the descriptive plaques dotted around the site offered an example of what the ruin looked like in it’s heyday.
What I find remarkable is that most buildings and statues were painted vibrant colors in ancient Greece. Even the Parthanon was very colorful. In my mind I always reflected on Greece as everything being white marble but that was not the case.
Anyway, Delos sprawled along the coast with a path leading up to the highest point on the island. Of course we had to go to the top! My 4-year old daughter and I ran ahead of the rest of our crew to make it to the top first. To my surprise, we not only made it to the top but we also managed to stand without blowing over. The winds were seriously blowy.
Once the rest of the crew joined us, we took pictures and kept yelling out, ‘wow – look at these views!’ There’s something magical about making it to the top of a hill or mountain. There is the effort put in to achieve the feat and then the reward of such beautiful scenery. My daughter and I placed a rock on top of the highest person-made rock tower and made a wish.
I’m not sure what those rock towers are for – any ideas?
You find them all over the place when you get to the tops of mountains. I just told my daughter that it’s a way to pay our respect to the mythological Gods and make a wish. We’ve been focusing on Mythology lately so she accepted my answer.
After several hours of walking around, we made it back to our ferry to Mikonos. The crew and I were unanimous – Delos is a must see for anyone interested in Greek ruins. Below are some of my pictures and then scroll down for my top 5 tips for visiting the ancient Greek island of Delos.
Delos Greece Pictures (click to see larger image)
My top 5 tips for visiting Delos Greece
It’s far cheaper to take your boat and anchor across from the entrance to the old port. When we arrived I saw 3 boats anchored with 2 of them tied onto land with a landline to avoid swinging. Once moored up, it’s only a very short tender ride over to the ferry docks.
There is a tiny restaurant and a place to get water and drinks. We brought our own water but I can imagine the prices were steep – there’s no completion.
Definitely wear sneakers/trainers or good hiking shoes. The area is rocking and unsettled. Furthermore, if you got to the top of the hill, you’ll want strong shoes. A day of hiking around Delos in flip-flops would be terrible.
Get a guide! We didn’t get one but upon reflection it would have made the site much more manageable. It’s a bit overwhelming and to have someone take us to the most important areas leaving us to wander later would have been better.
This goes without saying – wear sunscreen! There is absolutely no shade on the island so it’s difficult to take some time out from the sun. Your best bet is to bring a hat or wear some sort of head covering. By the end of our tour I was ready to sit in the shade for a couple days.