Delos (1990)

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United Nations (New York) 2004. World Heritage Series. Delos.

According to Greek mythology, Apollo was born on this tiny island in the Cyclades archipelago. Apollo's sanctuary attracted pilgrims from all over Greece and Delos was a prosperous trading port. 

The island bears traces of the succeeding civilizations in the Aegean world, from the 3rd millennium B.C. to the palaeochristian era. The archaeological site is exceptionally extensive and rich and conveys the image of a great cosmopolitan Mediterranean port. 

  • United Nations ( New York) 2004.  World Heritage Series. Stamp issued for the Olympic Games held in Greece 2004. 


The Greek god Apollo was believed to have arrived at Delos, riding on the back of a dolphin. The stamp to the left shows an ancient floor mosaic from Delos, describing this legend.  The mosaic was laid c. 110 B.C.  
  • Greece 1970.  Ancient Mosaic.  Dolphin Mosaic from Delos. The stamp is part of a set of six, showing mosaics from various parts of Greece. 

Greece 1970. Ancient Dolphin Mosaic from Delos.

Delos, is located in the southern Aegean Sea. Delos is the smallest of the Cyclades (Kikládhes) group, having an area of 5 sq km (2 sq mi). It is now virtually uninhabited, but in ancient times was famous as a shrine of Apollo and as a trading center of the early Greeks and Romans. According to legend, Delos was the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. The earliest historical inhabitants of the island were Ionians, who made it the site of a periodic festival in honor of Apollo. A confederation of Greek states, the Delian League, was founded with headquarters on Delos in 477 bc. From this time the island was essentially dominated by Athens. Delos was independent from 322 to 166 bc; in 166 the Romans restored control of religious worship to the Athenians and permitted the island to become the seat of extensive commerce and a large slave market. The festival at Delos and the situation of the island on the direct route from southern Europe to Asia made it a popular port. Delos was sacked in 88 bc during the First Mithridatic War and never recovered its prestige and prosperity.

The town of Delos, which stood at the foot of Mount Cynthus, is now a mass of ruins. Extensive excavations, begun in the 1870s by the French School at Athens, have revealed many porticoes and altars of the sacred precinct, as well as wharves and warehouses, bazaars, a theater, a gymnasium, and several private houses apparently belonging to the prosperous period of the 2nd century bc.

Sources and links:  

Other World Heritage Sites in Greece (on this website). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Greece-section, for further information about the individual properties.

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Revised 21 jul 2006  
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