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Mykonos
 
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Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO)

 

Mykonos Travel Guide

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Mykonos or Myconos is one of the top international tourist destinations, famous largely for its cosmopolitan character and its intense nightlife. The island is part of the Cyclades, lying between Tinos, Siros, Paros and Naxos. It spans an area of 86 km² and rises at an elevation of 364m at its highest point. The island is composed primarily of granite. It has little natural fresh water and relies on the desalination of sea water in order to meet its needs. There are approximately 6200 inhabitants (2002). The largest town is Mykonos, also known as Chora, which lies on the west coast. It is believed that the island was named after a local hero, who is considered an offspring of the god Apollo and was worshipped locally in antiquity.

History of Mykonos

Archaeological finds indicate that the Ionians settled on Mykonos in the early part of the 11th century BC. More recent discoveries have uncovered remnants in Ftelia beach from the Neolithic Kares tribe dating back to as far as 3000 BC.
In Greek mythology Mykonos was the location of the battle between Zeus and the Gigantes, and the island was named in honor of Apollo's grandson Mykons. During these ancient times, Mykonos, due to its proximity to the then highly populated island of Delos (situated about 2km away), became very important as a supply island and possibly as a getaway location for Delian citizens.

Modern Mykonos

Today, Mykonos is one of the world's most cosmopolitan islands, having become increasingly popular especially during the last 50 years due to the numerous international jet set visitors that spend their holidays on the island. It is widely known for its extremely rich, diverse and often intense nightlife featured by a vast number of bars and nightclubs. Mykonos is also distincted for its sandy beaches, offering everything from crystal-clear waters, windsurfing potential, sea-side tavernas, bars featuring 24-hour loud music and even full nudity in some cases. Many Greek and international celebrities have summer residences in Mykonos and can often be seen walking the white-washed roads or having dinner at a small street-side table of an expensive restaurant or a taverna. The island is also one of the most upscale areas of Greece, and its real estate is very expensive. The popularity of the island has given rise to a wave of real estate development with the construction of private homes, villas, and hotels. This has raised some concerns that the island may be gradually losing its character. In order to prevent this, the island's zoning requires all new buildings to abide by the rules of the Cycladic architectural style.

Nightlife

The nightlife of Mykonos is marketed as among the best in Europe. Mykonos is rated among the top clubbing destinations in the Mediterranean, along with Ibiza, Ayia Napa and Rimini[citation needed]. Mykonos also attracts world-famous DJs to its clubs and beach bars, the most well-known of which are Paradise, Super Paradise and Paranga. In addition, Mykonos is a gay-friendly resort area during the summer, featuring several gay clubs. Mykonos nightlife focuses mainly on bars rather than clubs, yet notable clubs still exisit.

Attractions

  • Petros the Pelican - An old celebrity of the town's waterfront, "Petro" has been the official mascot of Mykonos for over 50 years.
  • Windmills - From as early as the 16th century, they are one of the most recognized landmarks of Mykonos.
  • Little Venice - Here the buildings have been constructed right on the sea's edge with their balconies overhanging the water.
  • Paraportiani - One of the most famous architectural structures in Greece. It's name means inner or secondary door which it was to the Medieval stone walls which encircled the area.
  • Archaeological Museum - Houses marble sculptures, ceramics and jewellery recovered from the islands of Delos, Renia and Mykonos.
  • Aegean Maritime Museum - Displays models of a collection of ships from the pre-Minoan period through to the 19th century and nautical and ancient artifacts related to the history of shipping on Mykonos.
  • Delos - One of Greece's most famous archaeologic sites, it is an island located 2 kilometers to the west of Mykonos. The entire island has been declared a national museum.
 
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Mykonos Town

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The island of Mykonos is part of a cluster of islands including Delos, Rhenia and some rocky islets. Mykonos, already inhabited since the 5th millennium B.C. (prehistoric settlement of Ftelia), has shared with them a long and copious history with them. Its intense tourist and cosmopolitan activity, which has continiously kept Mykonos in the foreground, inevitably reminds us of the cosmopolitan ancient Delos during the period of its commercial peak (Hellenistic-roman period).

Since the fifties, Mykonos has always been one of the most popular tourist islands of the Mediterranean.
Chora, as the town of Mykonos is commonly known, impresses and casts its spell on the visitor from the first moment, with its beautiful position, scale and architecture. Despite the great tourist development of the island, it manages to maintain its cycladic features and traditional look, like few other towns.

Its cube-shaped, all white houses glow in the sunlight, scattered wisely and orderly in the countless labyrinthine alleys and streets with whitewashed cobbled pavements. A little further, on a low hill, the windmills, having stood for centuries, compose a picture of unparalleled beauty in combination with red domes and bell towers of the countless churches. In the harbour, a small colorful flotilla of caiques and fishing boats completes this unique picture with its vivid colors.
Nothing can be compared, though, to the emotion inspired by the enthralling space of ancient Delos. A real town with its streets and markets, public buildings and temples, luxurious houses and shops, cisterns, columns, mosaics…
Bathed in perennial sunlight sent by the god Apollo, they are all spread between the hill of Mt. Kynthos and the port with its crystal clear waters, giving the visitor the impression that they stopped functioning only yesterday.
All in all, maintaining the form of the traditional architecture of the Cyclades on the modern buildings ensures a unique feeling of harmony to the town and interior of Mykonos.

The fame of the island and the large number of visitors, among whom one can recognize some of the most famous personalities all over the world, have resulted in the commercial activity that has made the market of Mykonos so famous.

So, in the streets of Mykonos, most important of which is Matoyianni, one can buy clothes, jewellery and works of art designed by the most celebrated designers and artists. One wouldn’t exaggerate if one said that, quite often, this is where the trends in fashion and style to prevail worldwide are decided.
One can enjoy one coffee, or ouzo with titbit and the traditional tastes at the cafes. Bars and restaurants scattered all around, and observe at the same time, a colorful crowd wandering in the narrow streets of the town.
Chora is also the starting point if you want to discover the rest of the beauties of the island, its picturesque interior and spotless beaches, using a regular bus service or other means of transport.

 
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Ano Mera

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The second traditional settlement of the island after Hora, Ano Mera on the east part of Mykonos, is a quaint village which was developed on a big area, with a typically sparse building of independent cottages but also uniform composition in the somewhat fertile grounds of the small plateau of Ano Mera. The settlement itself is organized around the historical monastery of Virgin Mary the Tourliani, which was once an important economic factor in the area.

From 1926 until 1999 it constituted a Community itself (Community of Ano Mera) while today, after the “KAPODISTRIAS” plan it has come under the Municipality of Mykonos as a municipal Department. Impressively organized today, its small centre offers unforgettable moments of recreation to locals and foreigners as well as various services.Here, on 15th August (Assumption of the Virgin) there is a characteristic festival every year, but the locals celebrate with the same attachment the Nine Days from the Assumption of the Virgin, on the 23rd August as well.

There is a lot of activity in the village square every Sunday after the service in the adjacent Convent, especially in the summer when the ‘Anomerites’ (people whose origin is from Ano Mera) from Athens are on holiday on the island. Restaurants and cafes with a very pleasant atmosphere offer their services in the centre of the village, but one can also find hotels and other resorts in the greater area around it, as well as in the most of its magnificent beaches (Elia, Kalo Livadi, Ag. Anna, kalafatis, Lia).There is regular transport to Hora and the beaches of Kalafatis and Elia, and also a taxi stand.

 
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Ornos and Ag. Ioannis

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Ornos and Ag. Ioannis (4 & 4.5 km from the city of Mykonos respectively) are two of the most frequently-visited beaches on the island which are located on its southwest part and have developed into an almost compound and autonomous tourist settlement.The first beach is deep in the big and quite safe Ornos bay, looking to the South.

At exactly the very opposite of Ornos is Korfos bay open towards the North, therefore suitable for windsurfing. Ag. Ioannis which is separated from the areas of Ornos and Korfos by a long medium-height mountain, Diakofti, is one more popular beach open towards the west: from there, one can see the impressive side of Delos, which was once the sacred island of God Apollo, and one of the characteristic sunsets in the Aegean Sea. Both in Ornos and in Ag. Ioannis there are some of the most well-known hotel resorts in Mykonos, as well as other services, very frequent bus service etc. In the recent years, many housing estates and luxurious villas have been built in the surrounding area.

Ornos is the end of the ring road which begins in Tourlos, north of the City of Mykonos (Hora). This is where the recently renovated municipal Sports Field and the factory of Desalination are. From Ornos beach, boats leave to other southern beaches of Mykonos (just like from Platis Gialos), while in the same bay, there is a small port for fishing boats and safe anchorage for yachts.

 
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Platys Gialos

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One of the most well-known areas of the south coast of Mykonos where one finds himself in a pleasant environment, beautiful sea and a reach variety of hotels and resorts of all classes, restaurants, rent-a-car etc.

The Settlement of Platis Gialos and Psarou (4.5 km from the city of Mykonos) gradually developed around the two homonymous sandy beaches and is today a central point in Mykonos, with the most regular bus service, sea transport to the other popular beaches, generally good facilities and plenty of services.Coming from Hora (the city of Mykonos), one comes, from above, in view of a beautiful bay which is very well protected from the north, with three in reality smaller coves: that of Psarou on the furthest right part, with the rocky mass of Lazaros to the west; that of Platis Gialos in the middle; and finally the cove of the sandy Ag. Anna beach on the southeast, which is formed by the land and the rocky “cape of Kafe” (behind Ag. Anna and behind the cape is the sandy beach of Paraga).

The landscape is impressive, the cape with the hill being the most prominent, protecting the bay well from the southeastern winds. Despite the development of the area during the last few years, one can still find the rural element of the surrounding area alive, such as the step-like formations of the arable slopes, old farmhouses, many cells, small airy yards and characteristic reed thickets and other trees scattered all around.Of course, we should mention as a remarkable monument and symbol of the coastal zone, which had been inhabited since the ancient years thanks to its natural characteristics, the remains of the ancient tower at ‘Portes’. They have been preserved on a prominent place on the hill, north of the small valley and left from the central road which leads to the settlement.

 
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Agios Stefanos

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Among the first areas outside Hora which had regular summer visitors, the settlements of Tourlos and Ag. Stefanos spread around the two homonymous beaches (2.3 & 3 km north from the city of Mykonos) looking to the west, while they are also close to the current port of Tourlos, where nowadays all cruisers and most of the liners run aground.

One can find here many small and middle-size hotels and every kind of accommodation, restaurants, bars, ‘rent-a-car’ etc.The Settlement of Agios Stefanos climbs up the slope over the beach – on the east – where from one can enjoy a marvellous view to the islands around, Tinos, Syros, Rinia etc. Tourlos is developed lower and parallel to the coast, along the road which is one of the most popular walks on the island. The area offers generally satisfactory facilities and regular bus service, while it is also connected from the North with the impressive for its unique big shingles seaside Houlakia. In the area there are also many old picturesque small churches, like St. Stefanos, St. George of Mihalovitch, St. George the Spilianos, while at the beginning of the new Ring road and exactly under it, the ancient monumental well of Pouados has been preserved.

 
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Delos

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Delos is the Sacred Island of the Ancient Greek, which according to mythology, was revealed among the waves of the Aegean to Leto, who was being chased by the jealous Hero; it was the refuge where she gave birth to Apollo and Artemis.

On Delos are found the admirably well-preserved ruins of one of the largest, most significant, and best- organized ancient Greek settlements. The island was first settled, probably by the Kares, about the 3rd millennium B.C. In the beginning of the 8th cent. B.C. it developed into a center of worship and was the capital city of an amphictyony of Aegean island.

At the end of the 6th cent B.C., the tendency of the Athenians was to take over the island: IN 540 B.C. Peisistratos ordered the first purification of the sanctuary. As a result of the second purification (426 B.C.) the entire contents of all the islands graves were remove to neighboring Rhenia. Afterwards in order to prevent desecration of the sanctuary, both births and deaths were forbidden on the island of Appolo.

The Athenians consecrated the first “Delia” dedicated to Leto, Artemis, and Apollo. In 315 B.C., when Macedonians arrived on the island, Delos achieved its independence and developed commercially.

During the Roman period, the island thrived, until, until 88 B.C.; the population included Egyptians, Syrians and Italians. Then, after two dreadful attacks during the Mithridatic War, Delos went into decline and was finally abandoned in the 6th cent A.D.

In the 1873 the French Archaeological School of Athens started excavations and restoration enabling the wealth of the islands history to be revealed to everyone who is interested. The Archaeological Museum of Delos house one of Greece’s most significant collections, including rare exhibits of ancient sculpture ceramic vessels, epigraphs and wonderful mosaics etc.

The sites of Delos and Rhenia are under the protection of the Ministry of Culture; thus, both the mooring of private boats there and staying overnight without official permission are strictly forbidden.

 
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