This is the Ibiza of Greece. A beautiful island in the Cyclades, which looks just like the postcards: white little houses with flowers and blue windows and doors, hand painted streets, windmills, pigeon keepers, chimneys, lots of little churches and wonderful restaurants and cafes.
Many of the Greek “jetsetters” either have a house here or visit every summer, and the nightlife is very developed. You will see a lot of eccentrics especially at night time. Even though it is a party-island, it is not as loud as for example Ios and Kos, so you can get sleep at night.
Mykonos has a reputation for being a summer resort for mainly gay men, which is not entirely true. The gay audience is present, but it is also a glamorous place for the rich and famous, which is painfully clear to whoever has a look at the prices on the menus.
The island was once very poor, and the people tried to survive on fishing and stock breeding on the harsh land. A major industry was also ship construction. Tourism has turned the economy over since it started in the 1950’s and the locals have a double attitude towards this: it may have saved the economy but some also feel that it has taken over too much.
Architecture: With the exception of Mykonos town, Chora, all over Mykonos you will see the typical Cycladic cubist style of architecture. Small, often single storey white cubes sprinkled over the landscape like little iced cakes. Mykonos town however offers a different architectural style that is unique in the area. Here, flanking the narrow winding streets are buildings reminiscent of a medieval style.
Every house is reached via a flight of straight steps, parallel to the road, whilst the space underneath these steps was traditionally kept for storage. Atop the steps is a wooden painted balcony that sometimes projects over the road to nearly touch the balcony of the house across the street. Here too, you will find a change from the ubiquitous blue and white decor of Greece. In Mykonos town the wooden structures of every house are painted in a rainbow of colours, against the whitewashed walls and blue sky, the effect is absolutely delightful.
Landscape: Outside of the capital Chora there are very few densely populated areas. Villages and hamlets scatter the hillsides. In some areas there is fairly intensive development of holiday complexes, although it must be said, in a very low-key and sympathetic way. Being an island that receives the four winds head on, there are very few trees in the landscape. this, together with the rocks and boulders strewn across the terrain, give a strange and desolate feeling to the island that contrasts starkly to the sophisticated busyness of its main town.
Mykonos according to mythology, was the place where Heracles killed the giants. The rocks around the island are supposedly their corpses!!!
Mykonos was the first ruler on the island according to tradition, and the first known settlers we know of were the Ionians in the 9th century BC.
The island was to fall under Athenian, Macedonian and Roman rule in the years to come, just like the surrounding islands.
The Venetians conquered the island in 1207, and their Duchy later until the Turks invaded in the first half of the 16th century. All Greek school-children have read about the heroine Manto Mavrogenous who success-fully fought the Turks after they tried to land on the island in 1822, a year after the war of Independence had broken out. Her house can still be seen on Mykonos.
Mykonos was liberated in 1830. It was quite exhausted after the war, and it was not until tourism started pick up that the island got on its feet economically again.
What to see in Mykonos
The town Chora is a place you should really explore. Walk around, go to the windmills, feed the pelicans Petros (‘Rock” and Irini (“Peace”), have a drink in the little harbour and visit the Parapotiani church. And of course, go shopping. There are also five museums: an archaeological, a folk museum, a maritime, a cultural and a private one with old rooms and furniture.
windmills of MykonosMost of the museums of Mykonos are located at Enoplon Dynameon Street which is one of the busiest streets of Mykonos town during the summer. To reach this area is fairly straightforward, At the seafront, turn right by the ferry ticket office into Matogianni Street, walk the length of this street and turn right at the end – this is Enopolon Dynameon Street. Here you will find the Aegean Maritime Museum (opening hours 10.30-13.00 pm and 18.30-21.00 pm), next to it is the Folk Museum, the House of Lena, (open 18.30-21.00 pm). Another interesting building just before these 2 museums is the house where the Greek Numismatologist and Archaeologist, Giannis Svoronos, was born .
Further down just before the 3 wells are the churches of Saint George, that was built in the 15th century BC, and St Barbara and Saint Fanourios built in 1883.
little Venice of Mykonos Behind the primary school of Mykonos is the main square of Chora “Laka”, a green oasis in thewhitewashed Mykonos town with Eucalyptus and Palm trees and all kinds of shops and eateries around, here also you will find the post office. Walking up from there to the west you will reach the plateau where the famous windmills are located. These are one of the most popular landmarks of Mykonos. In olden times the people from all over the Cyclades would bring their wheat and barley to these mills to be made into flour.
Just beneath the windmills is the area of Alefkandra, or ‘little Venice’. Its original name Alefkandra derives from its original use as a laundry and it was here that the women of Mykonos washed their clothes.
If you keep on walking through the winding small streets of Little Venice towards to the north, soon you will find the Paraportiani church another famous landmark of Mykonos.
ParaportianiThe Paraportiani church in fact is 5 churches all built in a compact complex. It is one of the most photographed buildings of Mykonos and an amazing combination of white against the blue of the sky and the sea. Its structure over time has metamorphosised into an organic mass that resembles at one point a sparkling white iceberg stranded on the shore or at other points a huge cake dripping with icing sugar. From Paraportiani, the Kastro and the western part of the promenade are very close. In this area is the municipality building with its red clay roof. From this location the visitor can enjoy a panorama of the promenade of Mykonos. On the other side of the promenade at the taxi station in Manto square is the Statue of Manto Mavrogenous a Myconian Heroic figure of the Greek War of Independence equivalent to Laskarina Bouboulina of Spetses island.
The little village Ano Mera is worth s visit: small, pretty and quiet. Visit the monastery and the little church museum from the 15th century.