DELOS & RHENIA ISLANDS

The Center of the Cyclades

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DELOS & RHENIA ISLANDS

The Center of the Cyclades

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Delos & Rhenia Islands

Mykonos, Delos and Rhenia, each with her own personality, are the Cycladic Sisters.

The small islands of Delos & Rhenia, the center of the Cyclades and located few miles south-west from Mykonos island, are one of the most important sacred and historic sites in Greek history under the protection of the Ministry of Culture. According to mythology, Delos is the birthplace of Apollo, god of daylight and of music, and his twin sister Artemis, goddess of night light and hunting. The sanctuary dedicated to Apollo and Artemis with the large UNESCO DELOSHellenistic city of about 30.000 inhabitants around it and of remarkable monuments and impressive mosaics from the Archaic, the Classical, and the Hellenistic periods are certainly worthy of a visit. Delos, a 7-km long island and inhabited between 2.500 and 69 BC, was not only a famous religious center but also a major commercial center. It was proclaimed a tax free port and due to its exceptionally favorable geographical location, became the hub of the transit trade between East and West, North and South of the Mediterranean. Since 1990 the whole island of Delos, a vast open-air museum, has been designated a World Cultural Property and is protected by UNESCO. The archaeological museum of Delos founded in 1904 includes rare exhibits of ancient sculpture, ceramic vessels, epigraphs and mosaics of the Hellenistic period.

The highest elevation on Delos is Mount Kynthos 367 feet (112 meters) high from where you can enjoy the stunning view of the surrounding Cycladic islands.

Delos acquired religious significance in the early 10th century BC when the Ionians from Athens established Delos as a sanctuary to worship Apollo.

Such was the importance of the island that 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 and it was decreed 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. Immediately after this purification, the first festival of the Delian games were celebrated there. (Ref: Thucydides, III, 104).

Leto giving birth to the twin gods on Delos
The Lion Terrace
Delos, a vast open-air museum
The Theatre
Temple of Hera

Delos & Rhenia Islands

Mykonos, Delos and Rhenia, each with her own personality, are the Cycladic Sisters.

The small islands of Delos & Rhenia, the center of the Cyclades and located few miles south-west from Mykonos island, are one of the most important sacred and historic sites in Greek history under the protection of the Ministry of Culture. According to mythology, Delos is the birthplace of Apollo, god of daylight and of music, and his twin sister Artemis, goddess of night light and hunting. The sanctuary dedicated to Apollo and Artemis with the large UNESCO DELOSHellenistic city of about 30.000 inhabitants around it and of remarkable monuments and impressive mosaics from the Archaic, the Classical, and the Hellenistic periods are certainly worthy of a visit. Delos, a 7-km long island and inhabited between 2.500 and 69 BC, was not only a famous religious center but also a major commercial center. It was proclaimed a tax free port and due to its exceptionally favorable geographical location, became the hub of the transit trade between East and West, North and South of the Mediterranean. Since 1990 the whole island of Delos, a vast open-air museum, has been designated a World Cultural Property and is protected by UNESCO. The archaeological museum of Delos founded in 1904 includes rare exhibits of ancient sculpture, ceramic vessels, epigraphs and mosaics of the Hellenistic period.

The highest elevation on Delos is Mount Kynthos 367 feet (112 meters) high from where you can enjoy the stunning view of the surrounding Cycladic islands.

Delos acquired religious significance in the early 10th century BC when the Ionians from Athens established Delos as a sanctuary to worship Apollo.

Such was the importance of the island that 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 and it was decreed 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. Immediately after this purification, the first festival of the Delian games were celebrated there. (Ref: Thucydides, III, 104).

  • Leto giving birth to the twin gods on Delos

    Leto giving birth to the twin gods on Delos

  • The Lion Terrace

    The Lion Terrace

  • Delos, a vast open-air museum

    Delos, a vast open-air museum

  • The Theatre

    The Theatre

  • Temple of Hera

    Temple of Hera

As a result of a number of "purifications" executed by the city-state of Athens, the entire contents of all Delos Island’s graves (bones and funerary offerings) were transferred to the neighboring Rhenia Island in a common grave called "Vothros Katharsis" (The Purification Pit).

According to an old reference, in 523 BC the Tyrant of Samos Island, Polikratis, had devoted Rhenia Island to Apollo by tying it to Delos Island with a big iron chain. Rhenia, called alternatively “Great or Big Delos”, is four times the size of its sister Delos Island and separated from it by a small strait.

From 426/425 until 1 BC, Rhenia Island was used as a cemetery of Delos Island.

During the Roman period in the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC, Delos was a thriving commercial port exceeding the previous religious importance. The prosperity of Delos declined in 88 BC, following the attack by Mithridates of Pontus, a monarch from Asia Minor and a staunch enemy of Rome, killing almost 20.000 inhabitants and looting the sanctuary treasures. The Romans partially rebuilt the city, but revival was prevented by continuous pirate raids in 69 BC. In the following centuries Delos was gradually abandoned and Rhenia also was forgotten. In 1872 the French Archaeological School of Athens started excavations which revealed the wealth of the island’s history to the entire world.
After the Greek independence in 1830, Delos and Rhenia Islands were designated as areas of great archeological value and by Greek law owning is forbidden since then. However, the habitants of Mykonos can rent in Rhenia some fields for cultivation and farm a few animals (sheep and goats), and pay for that to their municipality.

The “Purification Pit” in Rhenia was discovered and excavated by the Greek archaeologist Dimitris Stavropoulos between 1898 and 1900 covering a surface of 400 m2 and containing hundreds of vessels and funerary offerings made of metal, ivory, marble or glass, graves and cinerary urns of dead people‘s burned bodies. All these findings are exhibited in the archaeological museum of Mykonos which was built for this purpose in 1900.

Rhenia is an uninhabited island with no plumbing and electricity. You come across sheep, the farmers’ cells as well as their stables and fields that are cultivated. Walking up the hill of Rhenia, you can see Delos and Mykonos. On the Island of Rhenia, you can find solitary beaches with exotic coast, with blond sand and clear water. All the beaches are not crowdy at all and no tourism has disturbed its natural beauty. Some beaches to name are Agia Triada, Ligia, Skinos, Nataliotis, Stena, Glifada, Ambelia and all are accessible only by boat.

Very few tourists know about the island or have an interest in going there on a day’s excursion, so if you plan it, it is possible to be the only person on one of its pristine sandy beaches.

Coming across sheep and goats in Rhenia
Pristine sandy beach of Rhenia
Pristine sandy beach of Rhenia
Pristine sandy beach of Rhenia
Pristine sandy beach of Rhenia

  • Coming across sheep and goats in Rhenia

    Coming across sheep and goats in Rhenia

  • Pristine sandy beach of Rhenia

    Pristine sandy beach of Rhenia

  • Pristine sandy beach of Rhenia

    Pristine sandy beach of Rhenia

  • Pristine sandy beach of Rhenia

    Pristine sandy beach of Rhenia

  • Pristine sandy beach of Rhenia

    Pristine sandy beach of Rhenia

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