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AEGEAN CHARTER SAILING GREECE CYCLADES ISLANDS HISTORY BEACHES HOTELS HOLIDAY CONDITIONS.
The Cyclades are a group of islands of varying sizes scattered over the deep blue waters of the Aegean.
Some of them are well-known both to the public at large and the international 'jet-set', while others remain little known and scarcely figure on the tourist scene. Taken as a whole, they make an ideal holiday destination for the visitors of the most varied tastes.
A fusion of stone, sunlight and sparkling sea, the Cyclades lie to the east of the Peloponnese and south-east of the coast of Attica; they stretch as far as Samos and
Ikaria to the east, and are bounded to the south by the Cretan Sea.
According to the most likely tradition, they owe they name to the notional circle which they appear to form around the sacred isle of Delos.
The sacred island of Delos was, in the myths, the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. Today the island is uninhabited: it is a vast archaeological site whose superb monuments draw thousands of visitors. Delos, for a thousand years or so after the ninth century BC, was the political and religious center of the Aegean. The archeological site covers almost the entire island, starting on the west side, where the sacred harbor was. From the harbor, majestic sacred way led to the Sanctuary of Apollo, where there were temples, altars, votive offerings and other buildings. There are ruins of four temples to Apollo, one of them known as the Temple of Athenians. To the east is the Sanctuary of the Bulls, an oblong building, and to the north are the Treasuries and the long, narrow Stoa of Antigonus. In the northwest corner is the much smaller Sanctuary of Artemis, with an Ionic temple to the goddess, and the Tomb of the Two Hyperborean maidens. Still further north is the region of the sacred lake, with the Terrace of the Lions, the Letoon, the Agora of the Italians and the Institution of the Poseidoniasts of Berytos. A little further along are some fine examples of houses and a palaestra. To the northeast of the lake are the Stadium and the Gymnasium, Some of the houses yielded superb mosaic floors with representations of Dionysus, a dolphin and a trident. A narrow channel separates Delos from Rhenia, where there is an important burial ground. The Museum of Delos has sculptures of the Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods, together with a collection of vases from various periods
The Cyclades have exercised a powerful charm since ancient times, even though access to them then was not particularly easy. This was the birthplace of one of the Mediterranean 's most important civilizations, one which took its name from the islands: the Cycladic civilization (3000-1000 BC).
Geologists attribute the peculiar form which the Cyclades take today to a succession of geological upheavals - earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, movements of the earth's crust - which resulted in the submergence of large chunks of land. Many believe that one such stretch of land was the lost continent of Atlantis.
The diverse outlines of the islands as they protrude from the blue waters of the Aegean, bathed in the dazzling sunlight and embellished with little white houses, resemble, in the words of the Nobel Prize-winning poet Odysseas Elytis, "stone horses with rampant manes". Above all, the people who live here, with their own individual approach to the world, bring to life the narrow alleyways of the villages and the pathways of the countryside, the countless tiny chapels, the windmills, the dovecotes or the wind-bitten hillsides and are themselves a basic feature of the charm which this possess.
Yet, in spite of the characteristics which the islands have in common -sparkling sea, sun, the landscape and the austere line of the architecture - each retains its own individual features, which visitors can discover as they explore them one by one.
The Cycladic islands enjoy a Mediterranean climate, with an average temperature for the year of 18-19°C. The winters are mild and the summers - by Greek standards - cool, thanks to the beneficial effects of the seasonal winds known as the 'meltemia'.
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