Evaluation: Delos – or Dilos in Modern Greek - can be considered as one of the most important high archaeological sites in Greece. One can indeed compare the ruins of Pompeii to those.
Delos was seen by the Greeks as a sacred island, because it was according to legend the place where the god Apollo and his sister Artemis were born from a liaison of the god Zeus with Leto, a daughter of a Titan. Pursued by the wrath of Hera, wife of Zeus, Leto could finally find only one place to give birth to her offspring, and that was the naked island of Delos, which was no not yet attached to the bottom of the sea.
To show her gratitude, the island was attached to the bottom and the children of Leto would provide a glorious future to Delos. Zeus himself put moreover a circle of islands around Delos, like a crown – that were the Cyclades (Cyclades < kúklos = circle).
The rise of Delos began after the Persian Wars (490-480 BC), among others as seat of the Delian League, an alliance of Greek city-states under the domination of Athens. Delos became a rich commercial port and a religious center with the important cult of Apollo. After Alexander the Great and especially under the rule of the Romans, Delos knew great prosperity, among others as an big market of slaves - there would have been no less than 25 000 inhabitants in the 2nd-1st century BC).
The island, however, was almost completely destroyed in 88 BC, during an attack of the king Mithrydates during his wars against the Romans. Some twenty years later, in 69 BC, Delos had to suffer terribly because of the pirates, and the depopulation still intensified. In the 6th century AD, Delos had no more inhabitants. In the Middle Ages and during the Turkish occupation, the only visitors of the island were people who wanted to loot ancient remains for marble and other building materials.
The excavations began in 1872.

This walk is unusual, because it describes a circuit that could be followed during a visit to the excavations of Delos. It is therefore not the walk itself, but the archaeological remains that deserve the appreciation ***
[The translation of this walk was made with some help of Google translate - so, do not mind the mistakes...
Estimated time
: You should certainly spend three hours to a thorough visit, and even more...

Route description
: [A visit to Delos almost always starts from Mýkonos: it is here that depart daily - provided that there is not too much wind - some boats that make the crossing of about 40 minutes to Delos. Most of the time, there are boats at 9 and 10 o'clock, while the return is at 12.30 or at 1.30pm. But as a complete visit certainly requires three hours, it is advisable to take the first boat at 9.00am and the last boat back at 1.30pm..
A ticket cost 17 euro in April 2013 - you can buy it next to the boat.
Sometimes there are excursions to Delos and Mýkonos departing from Náxos and Tínos.]

A boat for the excursion to Dílos.

From the landing-stage you should walk toward the southeast, thus to the left; you arrive in this way at the beginning of the visit, on the Agora of the Compitaliastes, built at the end of the Hellenistic period - the compitaliastes were the descendants of free Romans and slaves. There is a strange circular building on a square base.
Behind the Agora are the remains of a large square surrounded by small temples and statues.

The Agora of the Compitaliastes.

You follow the broad sacred way to the left (blue arrow), with on the left a long portico or Stoa of Philippos: this portico was built in 210 BC by Philippos V of Macedon; it measured 72 meters long and 11 meters wide. Notice the inscription on the bottom row of stones. On the other side of the sacred way stands a less well preserved portico, the South Stoa.

The sacred way, with on the left side the Stoa of Philippos.

At the other end of the portico, you still go straight, so you enter the Propylaea, the entrance to the sanctuary of Apollo: in the Propylaea stands a statue of the god Hermes.

The statue of the god Hermes.

You follow the blue arrow and you zigzag on a small gravel road which follows the route of the Via Sacra. You go left and right around the House of the Naxians, built in the 7th century BC by the inhabitants of Náxos, in honor of Apollo. North of the building (thus to the left) are the remains of the base, on which stood a large statue of Apollo (600-560 BC), represented as a koúros (a naked young man) and 4 times larger than life size (about 9 meters). Two remnants of the statue are still in the Artemision.

The house of the Naxians.

The remains of the big statue of  Apollo.

You continue on the wide road and you pass in this way three temples dedicated to Apollo, that is to say the temple of the Delians, the temple of the Athenians and the Temple of Apollo Porinos (the oldest, 6th century BC). You continue in the same direction on the sacred road that is paved again.

You thus arrive at the left of the Agora of the Italians: this large market was built in the 2nd century BC, measuring 48 X 68 meters. This was perhaps the most important place where the slave trade took place, as Delos was one of the most important centers of that trade. In front of the agora lies the Letoon, a sanctuary dedicated to Leto, the mother of Apollo. On the other side of the street stand the imposing gray remains of the Granite Monument: it was a large building, 40 by 20 meters, built in granite - there were shops in it.

The impressive wall of the Granite Monument.

Just beyond this building begins the famous Terrace of the Lions, with one lion on the left, and beyond four fairly well preserved lions and two remains of lions. The Terrace of the Lions was dedicated to Apollo by the Naxians, towards the end of the 7th century BC. In the beginning, there were probably at least nine lions and perhaps 16; the originals are now in the museum. They look at the sacred lake (on your right), where Apollo was born according to the legend; the lake was drained in modern times and a palm tree was planted in 1925.

The Terrace of the Lions.

Further, higher and on the left, stays the Koinon of the Poseidoniastes, built in the 2nd century BC by merchants from Beirut - there was room for a hotel, currency exchange, etc.. A few columns were restored...

The Koinon of the Poseidoniastes.

At the top of this building, you continue to the right, between the remains of many houses and then you descend to the right. You get in this way next to  the insula of the jewels, a square of houses destroyed in 69 BC, where a lot of jewelry and coins were discovered. Once arrived almost down, you pass the house of the Diadoumenos where the famous statue of Polykleitos was found - it is now in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.

Downstairs, you continue for a short time left and right, go down a little bit and so you pass the Agora of the Lake. You arrive in front of a ruin in a semicircle and you go left to visit the House of the Lake (2nd century BC), with its beautiful peristylium (a garden surrounded by a portico). Further, there are still some Delian houses, sometimes with a beautiful peristylium, where the paint on the plaster is still visible.

The House of the Lake..

You retrace your steps, then turn left to go take a glance at the back of the same house; the street comes to a dead end a little further, near the Granite Palaestra, a wrestling school, where the beautiful walls are striking.

A marvellous wall, next to the Granite Palaestra.

You still retrace our steps, then go left towards the museum. You reach a paved alley, with on the left the Palaestra of the Lake - the wrestling school is the oldest and dates from the 3rd century BC. You continue on a pavement which covers a large sewer-pipe – it is open a little bit further.

A sewer...

You arrive near the museum, where you enjoy a beautiful overview of the excavations, with among others the Agora of the Italians. The museum itself is quite dated and disappointing: there are a lot of medicinal instruments, but also frescoes, mosaics, portraits of Romans and of course the original lions.

A nice mosaic, from the House of Dionysos.

The original lions, from the Terrace of the Lions.

After your visit, you continue in the same direction on a concrete path: on a slight hill on the right stands a general plan and you have a general view of the site.

The Agora of the Italians.

You veer right and you get almost to your starting point on the Agora of the Compitaliastes, with to the right the South Stoa and at the other side of the sacred way, the Stoa of Philippos.

You go left on the agora and in the south-east corner and quite left, you find a paved road that will lead you to the second part of your visit, with the theater district and the eastern neighborhood - you follow now the green arrows and stone panels indicating the direction of the theater.

It is here that you find the most beautiful houses with high walls. Soon you discover on your left the House of Dionysos, with restored columns and a mosaic of a tiger (original in the museum), located in a peristylium with tall columns of 5.6 meters high.

The House of Dionysos.

The beautiful street curves to the left and right, and then you first go down to the right, passing over a covered sewer, to the House of Cleopatra – this Cleopatra was a wealthy Athenian woman... The (copies of) the two statues are those of Cleopatra and her husband Dioscurides.

The House of Cleopatra. 

You retrace our steps, and then you go right: the House of the Trident stands immediately on the left: of course it takes its name from the mosaic of a trident - there is also a dolphin and frescoes.

The House of the Trident.

Further on, you follow a magnificent wall and you thus arrive at the theater: the construction began in the late 4th century BC, but it was only finished around 225 BC - it replaced a wooden theater. The orchestra, the place where the choir evolved, is circular and in front of the orchestra was a large skene (stage) of 15 X 6,6 meters.

You continue underneath the theater and, to the right of the beautiful retaining wall to the right of the theatre, you go up the steps - you move now to the neighborhood on the northwest slope of the Kynthos, with its 112 meters the highest point of the island. To the right of the stairs was probably a big hotel. The trail also passes by beautiful walls and next to some columns, with on the left corner the House of the Dolphins - in the peristylium lies a beautiful mosaic pavement, with in the 4 corners winged boys riding a dolphin.

Another marvellous wall...

The theatre.

In front of and to the right of the stage was the impressive cistern, which collected the water around the theater: you still can see the beautiful arches that divide the cistern into 9 sections, but the roof is gone.

The cistern next to the theatre.

You continue underneath the theater and, to the right of the beautiful retaining wall to the right of the theatre, you go up the steps - you move now to the neighborhood on the northwest slope of the Kynthos, with its 112 meters the highest point of the island. To the right of the stairs was probably a big hotel. The trail also passes by beautiful walls and next to some columns, with on the left corner the House of the Dolphins - in the peristylium lies a beautiful mosaic pavement, with in the 4 corners winged boys riding a dolphin.

The House of the Dolphins.

Your path now heads straight to the Kynthos and so you climb towards the area with the sanctuaries of the East; on your right side, there is a long staircase leading to the top of the hill from where you could have a view beautiful on the entire island. Continuing straight, you come near the remains of temples dedicated to the Eastern deities - the restored temple of Isis is the most important.

The of Isis.

You return by the same path, but near the corner of the House of the Dolphins, you should go left to visit the House of the Masks: the peristylium is surrounded by different rooms with mosaics of Dionysus and the Centaurs , of masks of actors and of a dancing Silenus.

The House of the Masks.

You walk back to the theater, but you take the path that goes to the right and above the theater to enjoy the beautiful panorama you can get above.

General view of the theatre.

You then descend towards the jetty to take the boat back to Mýkonos.

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