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History of Delos

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Although it is a small sunny island (extends over 6 km2) in the center of Aegean Sea, it became the religious and cultural center of antiquity. According to mythology, god of light Apollo was born in this island. Ancient Greeks believed that “Adelos” Asteria (or “Invisible” Starfish - former name of the island) was floating on the sea. After god’s birth “Adelos” became Delos (Visible) and was tied to the bottom of the sea. It was a religious center from 1.000 B.C. and a trade center from 478 B.C. Nowadays the island is uninhabited but you can go there by boat that departs everyday from Mykonos Port (6 nm distance).
Delos has been inhabited since 2500 B.C. First came Kares tribe, then Mycenaeans and from 1100 B.C. Iones. Around 700 B.C. Delos was already a famous sacred Ionic center, where they organized a convention with Pan Hellenic events. Many Ionic cities such as Paros, Naxos, Samos and Athens offered the island several votives.
Persian invaders respected the island’s sacredness. The first Athenian Alliance was established here in 478 B.C. aiming to the protection of Ionic cities. In the 3rd century B.C. Delos was no longer influenced by Athens but by Macedonia. In the middle of the 3rd century many rich businessmen and bankers came here turning Apollo's sacred island into an important trade center. During Roman occupation the island was announced free port and many Roman merchants and ship owners came to live here. 20.000 Romans, Egyptians, Sirius Phoenixes and Jews live in Delos.
In 88 B.C. the island was destroyed by King of Pontos Mithridatis and lost completely its sacred identity. In the first Christian years the island’s population was shrunk and Delos fell into complete decay. Whatever was left from antiquity was pillaged in 727 A.D. by the iconoclast Byzantine emperor Leontas Isavros, in 769 A.D. by Slavs and in 821 A.D. by Saracens.

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