There are over 6,000 islands and islets in the Greek archipelago, loaded with history and begging for exploration. They have been hideaways for pirates, places of pilgrimage for ancient civilizations, and the legendary homes of gods.

One such island, Delos, the “Sacred Island,” makes the perfect day trip for those vacationing in nearby Mykonos. According to Greek mythology, it’s where the goddess Leto sought refuge when she was being chased by Hero, and where she gave birth to her twins, Apollo and Artemis. Delos was settled as long ago as the 3rd millennium B.C. and became a center of worship around 800 B.C.

A number of “purifications” were executed by the city-state of Athens in an attempt to render the island fit for the proper worship of the gods. The first took place in the 6th century BC, directed by the tyrant Pisistratus who ordered that all graves within sight of the temple be dug up and the bodies moved to another nearby island. In the 5th century, during the 6th year of the Peloponnesian war and under instruction from the Delphic Oracle, the entire island was purged of all dead bodies. It was then ordered that no one should be allowed to either die or give birth on the island due to its sacred importance and to preserve its neutrality in commerce, since no one could then claim ownership through inheritance. Via.

These days, Delos is an archaeological site that houses a significant collection of ruins and artifacts such as mosaic and sculptures. The island is accessible from Mykonos by a short boat ride for about €15.

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