Charming white walls, streets lined with potted plants and cats in every corner; I would be hard-pressed to find another place that could steal my heart quicker than this charming island Mykonos. Taking a stroll around Chora, you can catch sight of the darling windmills, some of which hailed from the glorious age of the Venetians.
Take a boat ride to Delos and the real adventure starts; truly the Pompeii of Greece, this island hosts just a little more than a dozen inhabitants. Ever since I learnt of the place during my time at university, I had been dreaming about visiting, and trust me, it did not disappoint! For any of you Antiquity fans, you may know that Delos was the mythical birthplace of the Greek god Apollo and goddess Artemis. Their mother, Leto, had been romantically involved with the King of the Olympian Gods, Zeus, and as a result, Zeus’ wife Hera had only vengeance on her mind when she found out about the affair. Hera, fuelled by her jealousy, learnt of Leto’s pregnancy, and called upon all peoples not to host Leto.
In her desperation and after being rejected by many for shelter, Leto stumbled across Delos. She addressed the island and noted that although wanting in other things (such as oxen and sheep) the island would always continue to be, it could become a birthplace for her son, Apollo, and this would bring honour and significance to the land. Convinced, Delos welcomed Leto and thus, the beautiful God Apollo and his huntress sister Artemis came to be.
Given its sacred status, in ancient times it was ordered that no one could be born nor die on Delos’ land. Around the 2nd Century BC, Delos became a key trading port under Roman rule. It became a very multicultural place, where traders from all backgrounds came to do business, live and even worship. We visited and observed remnants of the temple of the Egyptian goddess Isis and Temple of Hera (how ironic!), intricate mosaics, fine sculptures and incredible busts.
Stories of Apollo’s birth provide that he was born under a palm tree and under a lake. Unfortunately the lake on Delos no longer exists, as the archeologists were under threat of malaria during their excavations, they had to drain it. However, the palm tree growing in Delos was planted to commemorate the mythological story of Apollo coming to life. Statues of lions guard this sacred place (although those that are presented outside are replicas, you can see some of the originals in the museum today).