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Historic Delos get overhaul

- by John Swift

The holy island of Delos, one of the most important mythological and archaeological sites in the world, is on the top of the list for maintenance and restoration works.

Many ancient monuments on the holy island, just off the coast of the popular Greek holiday island of Mykonos, are in urgent need of repair.

The 'sacred island' of antiquity, Delos, is one of the most important mythological, historical and archaeological sites in Greece.

The island of Delos, which was destroyed in 69BC, was once the largest religious centre in the Mediterranean and is visited by around 125,000 people every year.

It is described as the birth place of god Apollo and goddess Artemis.

The first monument to be restored will be the ancient theatre of Delos, of which only the orchestra area can be seen today.

The theatre could once seat 6,500 people, but today many of the stone seats are ruined, falling apart or covered in weeds. It is considered dangerous for both the audience and the monument.

Many other monuments in Delos need urgent restoration, including ancient temples, the large cistern, wall frescoes and houses. Many relics have been gradually worn away by the strong island winds, the extreme heat and the humidity.

Delos was a sacred sanctuary for a millennium before being adopted as birthplace of the Greek gods Apollo and Artemis in Olympian mythology.

In 1990, UNESCO inscribed Delos on the World Heritage List as an "exceptionally extensive and rich" archaeological site that "conveys the image of a great cosmopolitan Mediterranean port".

Donation boxes were set up to raise private money to help restore a number of monuments, including the theatres of Sikyon, Orchomenos, Sparta, Thorikos and Dodoni.
Private fundraising to restore the Ancient Theatre of Delphi brought in €97,000.