Delos is a small island of the Cyclades, so named because of the circle (cyclos) they form around it. Sacred in antiquity for being the legendary birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, Delos was so revered that it was spared even by the invading Persians. In the 5th century BC, the island became the seat of the First Athenian League and of its common treasury, until Pericles moved it to Athens. The Athenians reorganised the Delia festival in honour of Apollo and made Delos a leading panhellenic sanctuary. Declared a free port by the Romans, Delos would become a major trading hub until its sack by Mithridates, king of Pontus, from which it never recovered. Systematic excavations by the École française d’Athènes began in 1873. Delos is an archaeological site in its entirety, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990. With its famous Terrace of the Lions and the ruins of the ancient city scattered across the serene landscape, unspoilt by modern civilisation to this day, Delos exudes an air of sacredness and offers visitors a unique experience, totally different from the bustle of neighbouring Mykonos.
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