Rinia Island - Is Ancient Necropolis Haunted?

  • 01 of 06

    Rinia Island in the Cyclades near Delos, Greece

    Beach on Rinia Island, Greece
    Rinia (c) Linda Garrison

    Rinia (also spelled Rhinia or Rhenea) is located just a short distance from the sacred island of Delos and the popular party island Mykonos in Greece. I visited Rinia on a week-long "Sailing Greece" G Adventures' itinerary an 8-passenger sailboat cruise with

    History and Legends of Rinia - Is the Island Haunted?

    Ancient Greek legends state that Polycrates, the tyrant of Samos Island, dedicated Rinia to Apollo by tying it to Delos with a big iron chain in 523 BC. (Nice story, but it can't be verified.)

    Near the beginning of the Peloponnesian War in the 5th century BC, Athens was struck by a plague. Residents believed that Apollo was responsible, so they decided to purify Delos, which was celebrated as his birthplace. This purification process required the contents (bones and funerary offerings) of all the graves on Delos (other than a few considered sacred) to be transferred elsewhere. Rinia was selected, and workers transferred these Delos grave contents to a large purification hole on Rinia that measured 400 square meters (4305 square feet).  This purification hole was re-discovered in 1898, and archaeologists found hundred of vessels and funerary offerings made of ivory, marble, glass, and metal. Many of these relics  are in a museum on Mykonos, but there are still graves and grave markers on Rinia. Some people believe the island is haunted.

    From this 5th century BC purification until the King of Pontos destroyed Delos in 88 BC, Rinia was used as a necropolis for all who died on Delos.  After Delos was destroyed, Rinia was abandoned and forgotten by all but pirates who used the island as a hideaway.  At some point later, mariners built a lazaret on Rinia, which was used by ships sailing into the Cyclades. A lazaret is a type of quarantine station, and mariners built a wall on Rinia to segregate a portion of the island.

    After the war for Greek independence, Rinia and Delos were both designated as archaeological areas, so Rinia is almost completely undeveloped. Some of the inhabitants of Mykonos rent fields to cultivate and for grazing their farm animals.  Some of these farmers have small day houses and stables on the land, but no one lives on the island full time.

    Although Rinia has some gorgeous white sandy beaches, no tour boats visit the island. Our G Adventures sailboat, the Baltra, tied up at the island in the afternoon, and we enjoyed exploring and soaking up the sun before ending the day with a cookout on the beach.  Although we were all on the island after dark, we didn't see (or feel) any spiritual presence.

    Let's take a look at some more of Rinia.

    Page 2 >> Tying up the Sailboat Baltra at Rinia Island in Greece >>

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  • 02 of 06

    Tying up the Sailboat Baltra at Rinia Island in Greece

    Tying up the Baltra on Rinia Island in Greece
    Rinia (c) Linda Garrison

    Junior, the Captain of the Baltra, secured the sailboat using a rope and the anchor. One of the "crew" (guest) assisted Junior by tying one end of a line to some of the rocks on the shore while Junior secured the other on the boat. Using these two methods to stabilize the boat, it didn't move around during the night while we were sleeping.

    Page 3 >> Rinia Island Beach >>

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  • 03 of 06

    Rinia Island Beach

    Rinia Island, Greece
    Rinia (c) Linda Garrison

    On the left side of the rope is the small white sandy beach where we had our cookout and picnic. Over the hill is a much larger beach where some of our group went swimming and sunbathing. As can be seen in this photo, Rinia is mostly flat with some rocky hills. Nice for a visit, but too desolate to live there (in my opinion).

    Page 4 >> Going Ashore on Rinia Island >>

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  • 04 of 06

    Going Ashore on Rinia Island

    Going ashore in the dinghy on Rinia Island, Greece
    Rinia (c) Linda Garrison

    We used the sailboat's small dinghy to go ashore on Rinia Island. This photo shows one of the larger hills.

    Page 5 >> Rocky Rinia Island >>

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  • 05 of 06

    Rocky Rinia Island

    Rinia Island in the Cyclades, Greece
    Rinia (c) Linda Garrison

    This photo shows how Rinia and the sea surrounding the island are both rocky.

    Page 6 >> Rock Formation on Rinia Island >>

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  • 06 of 06

    Rock Formation on Rania Island

    Rock formation on Rinia Island, Greece
    Rinia (c) Linda Garrison

    Rinia has many large rocks that look like animals. If you use your imagination, can't you see a bear's head on this one?

    Back to Page 1 of Rinia Island photo gallery