HISTORY OF MYKONOS
Mykonos, situated about 93 miles east of Athens in the Aegean Sea at the heart of Cyclades, is an Island with a culture and a civilization going back thousands of years.
According to the Greek mythology, Mykonos was named after its first ruler Mykonos, who was considered to be the son or grandson of the god Apollo, and was formed from a battle where the invincible Giants were defeated by Hercules and transformed into a huge rock that is now Mykonos, meaning “a mass of stones” or “rocky place”.
Archaeological findings show the presence of the Neolithic tribe Kares and Phoenecians on the island in 3.000 BC but the first real inhabitants and colonists seem to be the Ionians from Athens in the early 11th century BC.
Due to its proximity to the more commercially developed and populated neighbouring Island of Delos, located few miles south-west of Mykonos, it became an important place for supplies and a transit spot.
For most of the following six-thousand years, foreign dominators occupied Mykonos: Romans - and later becoming part of the Byzantine Empire until the 12th century - Venetians, Ottomans and others.
In 1537 Mykonos, with most of the Cycladic islands, came under the Turkish domination.
The Greek Revolution against the Ottoman Empire broke out in 1821 led by the Mykonian heroine Manto Mavrogenous who financed the revolution. Greece became an independent state in 1830. A statue of her sits in the middle of Mando Mavrogenous square in the main town of Mykonos.
Mykonos succeeded to reinforce the commercial trade and to rebuild the economy, lost after the Greek Independence, consolidating trade relations with south Russia, Moldovia and Vlachia. The island’s economy declined again during the late 19th century and especially after the opening of the Corinth Canal in 1904 and the First World War. Many Mykonians abandoned the island to find work in the mainland Greece (mainly Athens and Piraeus) as well as in foreign countries such as the United States.
Tourism as the answer to the local economy issue became apparent in the following decades, especially after the important excavations of the French Archaeological School of Athens started in Delos in 1872.
Lovers of the Greek history and mythology started discovering along with the ancient ruins also the island of Mykonos. The first signs of Tourism temporarily put an end with the Second World War.
Tourism in Mykonos started to flourish again in the 1950, when it became the favourite shelter of vacation for the artists, politicians and wealthy Europeans and it was so that Mykonos became an international hot spot.
There are over 3.500 islands surrounding Greece, of which over 1.100 are inhabited. It is a unique sailing paradise with a limitless number of coves and bays.
Mykonos is part of the Cyclades, a group of 220 islands lying in the middle of the Aegean Sea and south of Athens forming an imaginary circle around the neighbouring island of Delos.
The island has a population of about 12.500, most of whom live in Mykonos Town or Chora, the capital town of Mykonos island. Chora is exclusively pedestrianized and you can find the most important sightseeing spots, the well-known fashion boutiques and local artisan shops, the most popular typical bars, the most refined international cuisine and the most characteristic Greek tavernas. Chora’s architecture is typical of Cyclades with white-washed houses with colourful doors and blue windows, narrows streets with pebble-stoned pavements and an infinite number of tiny Byzantine white chapels with sky-blue cupolas, ex-voto of the island’s sailors or family chapels (counted about 400 churches in the island). Centuries ago the residents built twisty, narrow lanes and alleyways in order to confuse the pirates who used to frequently invade the island and nowadays this contributes to the charm of Chora.
An emblematic monument of Mykonos is Paraportiani Church, a complex of 5 churches, dedicated to Vergin Maria and built between the 14th and the 17th century. The name Paraportiani means “the side door” and refers to the fact that the church was next to the door of the medieval walls surrounding and protecting the “Kastro” (the castle area), the old town.
One of the most picturesque corners of the island is Alefkantra or “Little Venice” with a very characteristic architecture, wooden balconies perched over the sea, colourfoul walls and the view of the Windmills standing on the hillside above the town. The Little Venice, built in the mid 18th as a neighbourhood for sailing captains and boat owners, is the most romantic spot on the island from where you can enjoy the sunset drinking your favourite cocktail at one of the numerous bars, clubs or tavernas.
One of the most attractions of the island and a total celebrity in Greece and abroad is Petros, the pelican, the official mascot of Mykonos since 1954 when was found by a fisherman after a storm and eventually became the locals’ companion. Nowadays, the famous pelican Petros is the successor of the original one.
SWIM IN MYKONOS
Mykonos’ nickname is "Capri of Greece" because of its numerous and stunning beaches.
Along the southern coast you will find a great selection of the most organized and crowded beaches where the sea water is generally calm and is pleasant for relaxing. Some to name are Ornos, Plati Gialos, the cosmopolitan Psarou beach, Elia, Kalo Livadi, Kalafati, Lia and the most popular party beaches of Paradise, Super Paradise and Paraga. Less organized beaches and naturally wilder are on the north-west coast of the island where is perfect when the south wind blows, like Agios Stefanos, Agios Ioannis, Agrari, Panormos, Agios Sostis, Ftelia, Fokos.