The history of Mykonos, like that of Greece in general, is a rich mixture of myth and reality. Supposedly named after Apollo’s grandson Mykons, the island became important largely because of its geographical proximity to Delos, an important sacred centre in the ancient world and the site of the treasury for Athens’s maritime empire. Mykonos subsequently fell under periods of Roman, Venetian and Turkish rule before finally becoming part of an independent Greece.
Like most of the Greek islands, the landscape of Mykonos is dominated by small villages full of whitewashed stone buildings, as well as little white churches with bright blue rooves. As a former transport hub for the grain trade, Mykonos is also well known for its windmills. These stone structures, facing out to sea, have become symbols of the island. The “Boni Mill”, standing above the island’s main village, is a fully-operational 16th century windmill and is well worth visiting.
Mykonos is home to several interesting museums, most notably the Archeological Museum, the Aegean Maritime Museum and the Folklore Museum. These feature interesting displays of artifacts and antiques from the various phases of the history of Mykonos. One of the highlights of the Archeological Museum is a ceramic vase, dating back to the 7th century BC, which features the oldest known graphical representation of the Trojan Horse.
The island of Delos is also easily accessible from Mykonos, with local boats running a frequent service. The ancient Greeks regarded Delos as the mythical birthplace of Artemis and Apollo, and the island therefore became an important sacred site. Much of the island’s archeological heritage can still be appreciated today, including ancient sculptures, theatres and temples. Another highlight of Mykonos is its beautiful beaches, characterised by golden sands and clear blue water. Some of these beaches are perfect for quiet relaxation, whilst others afford the opportunity to pursue a variety of water sports. Mykonos also has a reputation as somewhat of a party island and some of the beaches offer the promise of more hedonistic pleasures, transforming themselves into all night bars and dance clubs.
Mykonos is about five hours from Athens by ferry and a faster ‘flying dolphin’ service is available in the summer months. There are also frequent connections between Mykonos and the other major islands of the Cyclades. A small airport receives flights both from Athens and abroad. With its central location and sandy beaches, Mykonos can truly call itself the heart of the Cyclades.