Mykonos island is famed as a cosmopolitan destination among the Greek islands in the Cyclades group in the Aegean Sea
Widely recognized as one of the great travel meccas, Mykonos island is welcoming every year countless discerning tourists and regular visitors each year from the all over the world.
This beautiful Greek island has been voted for 7 consecutive years (2005-2012) by the readers of Conde’ Nast Traveler’s magazine as the Best European Island of the Year and again for good reason!
Exceptional beaches, award-winning restaurants, legendary parties, expensive yachts, dreamy villas, luxury hotels, beautiful people, 5 star service, Mykonos island will for sure seduce you.
Mykonos island main communities
The island’s main communities are Chora the island’s port town and capital, and Ano Mera.
Mykonos Town (Chora)
The main capital of the island is a stunningly picturesque Cycladic town. With a maze of tiny streets and whitewashed steps lanes, houses and churches, gathered around its harbor in the middle of a wide bay it is one of the most cosmopolitan and crowded towns of the Aegean.
Matoyianni Street is the heart of the retail scene, with chic, high-end shops, cafes and art galleries. The town’s Little Venice quarter is filled with waterfront bars, seafood restaurants and houses with colorful balconies. Nearby, Panagia Paraportiani is a whitewashed church with a famously lumpy, lopsided shape.
Although the streets are full with little shops, boutiques, art galleries and also cafes, bars and restaurants, Mykonos Town has not completely lost its identity. Despite the island’s rapid growth and development, it’s traditional Cycladic architectural style and character has remained firmly intact. This has been achieved thanks to the island’s strict regulation of building.
Expect to find shops by Chanel, Burberry, Louis Vuitton and also other well known, high-end brands. It would appear that these shops cater more for the tourists that arrive on many of cruise ships that dock nearby.
In Mykonos Town you will also find the two main bus terminals to all the beaches!
Ano Mera is the only village in Mykonos, lying down at the core of the island. In a 15-minute drive from Mykonos Town by your own transportation or by public bus (from the Old Port bus station) you can be to the second most populated area in Mykonos. It is simple and quiet which offers a much different feel to it’s visitors.
Instead of a warren of lanes highly populated with shops, cafes, bars, clubs and restaurants, Ano Mera village is simple, quiet and centered around a large public square. You will certainly not find big crowds partying here. In fact if you come at the right time, you will see what it is like to walk through a typical Cycladic village.
Walk around Ano Mera’s center and find traditional stone houses to photo shoot! The beautiful and bold bougainvillea against the white painted walls are particularly striking around many of Ano Mera’s corners. Stop by a gift shop or just enjoy a drink at the local cafés. And if you get hungry, Ano Mera has plenty of excellent options to experience the authentic Greek cuisine!
One of Ano Mera’s highlights is also he monastery of Panagia Tourliani, founded in 1542 . A must see even if you have only stopped there by accident! Click here to see all the things you can do while you are in Ano Mera village!
Other small communities
Agios Ioannis is one of the most attractive areas in south-west of the island! It has a beautiful beach surrounded by many luxury hotels, exclusive villas and good restaurants!
Agios Stefanos is a beautiful close to Mykonos Town area (2.5km)! You can find there a great variety of hotels, restaurants and cafes and also a very well organized and touristic beach!
Platis Gialos is one of the most famous areas in the south! It features a nice and long stretched sandy beach. There is a huge variety of accommodation options and plenty of good restaurants and tavernas to choose from.
Ornos is also a popular area in the south (2.5km) of Mykonos Town. Here you can find numerous wonderful beach front restaurants and convenience stores. There is also a huge variety of hotels, apartments, studios and luxury villas on and around a beautiful beach.
Tourlos is the parent area of Mykonos NEW port just 1.5km from the main Town. Sheltered from the northern winds, it offers quite a few good places to eat and several types of accommodation like hotels, apartments and studios.
Mykonos island was once very poor. People tried to survive on fishing and also stock breeding on the harsh land,. Another major industry was also ship construction. It’s hard to imagine a time when Mykonos was a humble little island, without electricity, just a layover on the way to famous Delos.
Things changed in the 1950s. Legendary names of the international jet set became associated with Mykonos and the island quickly became the favored holiday destination in Greece for the super-rich, artists and movie stars. The arrival of Aristotle Onassis, Maria Callas and Jackie O are only some of the first ones! If you add Marlon Brando, Grace Kelly, Princess Soraya, Elizabeth Taylor, Nureyev, Pierre Cardin and Stavros Niarchos, you get the big picture!
And the list of celebrities and stars continues to grow! Harrison Ford, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Monica Bellucci, Hugh Jackman, Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta Jones, Jean Paul Gaultier, Giorgio Armani, Russell Crowe are only some!
According to classical mythology, the Giants killed by Hercules in a fierce battle, are buried on the island under imposing blocks of Mykonian granite. The name “Mykonos”, somewhat pejoratively, means a mass of stones’ or a rocky place.
A later tradition attributes the name of the island to a hero by the name of Mykonos, the son of the king of Delos, Anios, who was the son of Appolon and nymphe Rhoio- a descendent of Dionysus.
Historical sources confirm that in ancient times there were two towns on the island. In 490B.C, the Persian generals Datis and Artaphernes made a brief stopover in Mykonos. It was a poor island with limited agricultural resources.
In ancient, pantheistic times, Dionysos, Demetra, Zeus, Appolon, Poseidon and also Heracles were the principle gods here. Later in history Mykonos island belonged to the Romans and subsequently to the Byzantines. They have fortified the island against the Arab raids of the 7th century and kept control of it until the 12th century.
Medieval Period (A.D. 1200-1800)
After the fall of Constantinople, at the end of the 4th Crusade (1204), the island was occupied, by Andrea and Jeremia Ghisi, relatives of the Doge of Venice.
In 1292 it was looted and pillage by the Catalans, and subsequently in 1390 given over to the Venetians. In 1537 while still under Venetian domination, the island suffered a catastrophic attack by Barbarossa, the admiral of Souleiman the Magnificent.
The popularity of Mykonos island was increased by colonies of immigrants from nearby islands and Crete. Starvation and epidemics followed also by periods of conflict, was common until the late 18th century.
The Mykonians throughout the same period, were also famous as excellent sailors. Furthermore they were successful in trade and shipping and also sometimes in piracy. Many islanders were active in the “Orlof Insurrection”, which resulted favorably for them. This happened due to the very profitable treaties concerning trade between the Ottomans and the Russian Empire.
Soon after the out break the Greek Revolution 1821, the Mykonians, roused and led by the lady Manto Mavrogenous (an- aristocrat educated with the most fervent ideas of the Enlightenment and popular nation heroine) successfully impeded a landing of a squadron of the Ottoman fleet in 1822.
They participated actively in the war, with four armed ships that two of them where supplied at Lady Manto’s expenses. Before the war was over she had spend all of her considerable, family fortune for supporting the independence revolution.
After the establishment of the modern Greek State, the activity of the locals revived the island’s economy. This was mostly achieved through trade relations with south Russia, Moldavia and Walachia. Furthermore Mykonian merchants were also doing business in Constantinople, Smyrna, Alexandria, Syros, Livorno and Marseille.
At the end of the 19th century the predominance of stream technology over the traditional commerce of the sailing ships, seriously affected the island’s economy. Furthermore the subsequent opening of the Corinth Canal (1904) and also World War I, resulted in a further economic depression. Many Mykonians left to find work abroad. Many went US while others in the going centers of mainland Greece (Piraeus, Athens). The development of tourism in the following decades has provided a means of the islands’ economy development.
In the early 1930s already, many famous artists, politicians and also wealthy people began spending vacation on the island. Attracted by the island’s unique atmosphere, most of them came from Europe and the US.
Mykonos island has adapted well to the post-war situation and the gradual growth of the tourism industry in south Europe. It quickly became a cosmopolitan locale and also one of the most successful growth – models, of its type and scale in Europe.
Mykonos island Geography
Mykonos island spans an area of 85.5 square kilometers. The highest point of elevation is 341 meters . It is relative close to the Greek capital, approximately 150 kilometers (93 miles) east of Athens in the Aegean Sea.
The island’s compositinion is mostly of granite. The terrain is very rocky with many areas eroded by the strong winds. Until the late 1900s on the eastern side of Mykonos high quality clay and baryte was mined. These minerals are used as a lubricant in oil drilling.
There are no rivers here, but numerous seasonal streams particular in winter time. Two of those streams have been converted into water reservoirs. One is located at Fokos beach and the other one just before Panormos. Along with the plants of reverse osmosis of sea water the island produces enough water daily in order to meet the needs of the population and also the visitors.
Mykonos island has a population of nearly 10.500 (2011), although during high summer season this number can exceed 100.000!