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A Concise History Of Mykonos

By Vangelis Pelekis

With an area of 86.1 square kilometers, Mykonos, together with Delos, Rhenia, and a few surrounding rocky islets, constitute a single island complex.

According to Greek mythology, there was once a violent clash between the Olympian Gods and the Giants. Myth has it that Hercules, inevitable ally to the Gods, came face to face with the Giants in Mykonos, where he buried them under huge rocks. Mykonos’s rocky terrain scattered with immense granite masses truly seems to have been created during a battle among giants. A typical example is the area of Ai-Giorgis Spilianos (Saint George of the Cave), with its charming church by the same name and its massive, rounded granite boulders, which appear to have been hurled by the hands of giants.

It’s possible that the island’s name derives from the word mykon, meaning pile of stones or rocky place.

Immediately following the Greek War of Independence of 1821, the Mykonians began excavations on Delos, accumulating a significant collection of statues and burial steles which they donated in 1829 to the newly-established National Museum on the island of Aegina. The systematic excavation of Delos began in 1873 by the Hellenic Archaeological Service and the French School at Athens. As early as 1926, cruise ships brought wealthy travelers from all over the world to the sacred island. They came to visit the antiquities of Delos, but along the way they discovered and fell under the spell of the “sparkling white, pristine, picturesque island of Mykonos and the smiling, open-hearted, welcoming Mykonians”.

Mykonos soon became a cosmopolitan summer retreat, attracting countless visitors from across the world.

In the postwar years, against the backdrop of the rapid development of the tourist industry in southern Europe, Mykonos successfully responded to the new demands and, thanks to the enterprise and business acumen of its inhabitants, holds one of the most enviable positions in today’s international tourist market.