Delos: The Sacred Island
After Atlantis, there’s only really one other island out there with the hallowed aura of mysticism and the esoteric spirituality that defines an era. Enter Delos, the island around which the Cyclades whirl around. Delos also happens to be a very real and tangible place (sorry, Atlantis), with artefacts you can see and touch. Which is handy as the search for Atlantis has so far yielded few results. And not for lack of trying. In that sense, Delos has never had the fortuity of accruing such infamy by way of conspicuous absence. Instead it has had to endure the ignominy of geography; forever in the shadow of its prettier neighbor: Mykonos.
Few people would be surprised to find that such an island exists just a mere cocktails away from their lounger, and even fewer would likely bother to visit it if it weren’t for its free spirited cousin just across. Which is a bit of a shame considering this is Artemis’s and Apollo’s birthplace. Alas, such is the price it pays for essentially being an open air museum with no overnight stays.
Delos is small. At just 3.4 square km it’s certainly a minnow amongst sharks, but Delos’s importance is measured in spiritual capital. And back then it punched well above it’s weight. As the Sacred Island, where the Titaness Leto was worshipped it became a rite of passage for pilgrims to pay homage and was later decreed by the Delphic Oracle to be an island where no person could die or be born. It’s subsequent submission to Athens and the Delian League along with latter Roman occupation and insufficient natural resources consigned it to further destitution and its eventual abandonment.
Luckily, many of its exemplary columns, porticoes, frescoes and statues do still exist and underwater digs have yielded a significant amount of shipwrecks in recent years. All of which can be viewed in Delos’s tremendous archaeological museum.
Walking around Delos is like walking amongst the ghosts of Gods and myths. For a brief moment, under the right sunlight, one can hear the tales whispered though the sun-bleached marble by the men and women who once stood where you stand.