|The Cyclades group comprises some hundreds of islands and islets of which 33 are inhabited. These form one of the most attractive groups of islands to be found anywhere in the world, with some 200 easily accessible beaches and countless more secluded and more difficult to get to. As they are small and closely grouped, the Cyclades are ideal for an island-hopping holiday under bright sunshine and azure waters. Their name derives from the ancient Greek belief that they were laid in a circle around the sacred island of Delos, where Apollo and Artemis were born.
The first inhabitants according to Greek mythology settled here in 5000 BC, while Phoenicians colonists, who arrive and settled here around 3000BC, signaled the impressive Cycladic civilization. The famous Cycladic marble status were sculptured during the Early Cycladic period, 3000-2000 BC, when people here lived in houses, built boats and mined obsidian and exported it throughout the Mediterranean.
The Minoans occupied the islands in the Middle Cycladic period, 2000-1500 BC, and the Mycenaeans around the 15th century, at the beginning of the Late Cycladic period. Cyclades became very prosperous after the arrival of the Romans in 190 BC. Their decline begun with the arrival of the Franks, who gave the islands to Venice. Then came the Turks, in 1453, which virtually opened the doors of Cyclades to pirates. In an effort to disorientate attackers, the local architecture devised the labyrinthine town-planning with narrow streets, which is the main feature in most towns.
The islands were revived by the tourism boom that begun in 1970s, after the world ?discoveredű their natural beauty, with their dazzling white buildings and bright-blue church domes, unusual landscapes, mild and pleasant climate with long periods of sunshine and strong winds to keep down the heat, sandy beaches, caves, traditional customs and architecture.
Some of the Cyclades, such as Mykonos, Santorini, Paros and Ios, have vigorously developed into tourist industry; others, such as Andros, Tinos, Kea, Kythnos, Serifos and Sifnos, are visited less frequently by foreigners but are favourites with local holidaymakers. All of islands are easily accessible by boat from Piraeus and Rafina, while some can be reached by air, with both domestic and charter flights from Europe.
|The islands of the Cyclades, with their whitewashed houses drenched by the Greek sun, are the countryűs most beautiful ornaments, placed at the centre of the Aegean Sea. They derive their name from being said to "circle" the island of Delos ˙ birthplace of Apollo. Around Delos are situated three of the best-known Greek islands, Mykonos, Syros and Paros, while further south stands the stunning volcanic island of Santorini or Thira.
|All four of the aforementioned islands have airports serviced by domestic flights from Athens and Thessaloniki, while Mykonos and Santorini receive during the summer frequent direct flights from abroad. Being a justifiably popular group of islands, they form the backbone of the Greek ferry system in the region. High season connections with fast modern ships and hydrofoils from Piraeus and Rafina, are so frequent that many visitors have embraced the habit of "island hopping", in order to get the best of each island and enrich their collection of images from Greece.