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Island of birth, death and quarantine


Just west of Delos and is just as uninhabited, Ríneia (often spelled Rheneia or Rhenia) was the birthplace of Apollo’s twin sister Artemis.

Here, in the second ‘ritual cleansing’ ordered by Athens in 426 BC, that ‘no one should die nor be born’ on the island meant that the dying and the women about to give birth were transported to Ríneia. All the dead were exumed and transported as well; a necropolis near the shore was the repository of their coffins.

On the other side of Ríneia are the ruins of a lazaretto, once used by Syros-bound ships sent into quarantine in late 19th and early 20th centuries – Alexandrian poet Constantine Cavafy spent two days there on his first trip to Greece in 1901.

In 2020, an intensive surface survey revealed that Ríneia had been inhabited into post-Byzantine times, as well as large bits of sculpture and perhaps a temple, discoveries that may soon lead to a more in depth investigation.

It does have four beautiful sandy beaches and turquoise waters; regular day cruises, many combining the island with Delos, depart from Mykonos and often include a picnic lunch.


Text © Dana Facaros

Image by Joanbanjo, Creative Commons License