The Greek Island of Mykonos
The Cyclades Islands, named because of their curved shape across the map, is our favorite Greek island group. The islands are hilly, arid, and sunny with lovely beaches, archaeological sights, shopping, relaxation and nightlife.
One of the jewels of the Cyclades is the island of Mykonos or Myconos. Mykonos is considered one of the most charming and relaxing islands, but it is also well known for its summer nightlife and parties. When you think of whitewashed churches and small fishing villages set against an azure sea and sky, chances are that you have seen a photograph of Mykonos. It is famous for its windmills, tiny winding streets and its mascot, a stork. The capital and heartbeat of the island is Chora. You can easily enjoy a few days here. If you are interested in beaches, they must be accessed by bus or taxi from Chora, or you can stay at resorts located near to them.
The Port and Harbour- Most travelers to Mykonos either arrive or depart by sea on ferry or ship. There are two small ports, one on each side of the harbour. The center of town is snuggled between them. For hundreds of years Mykonos was just a small fisherman's village. It wasn't until the 1950's that tourists began visiting to see the nearby ruins on Delos. Since then tourism has become the major trade on the island, but you will still find many fisherman and typical Greek fishing boats in the harbour. The bulk of the restaurants, cafes, tavernas, discos and shops are concentrated near the harbour. The main shopping street, Matoyanni, is lined with jewelry shops and boutiques with names that any world class shopper will recognize. In summer months the small streets of the village are filled late into the night with young partiers who bounce from one hot spot to another.
The Paraportiani- Whether you come to Mykonos to relax or enjoy the nightlife, you must still see her most important sight, the Paraportiani. This complex of five whitewashed chapels date back to the 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. The complex sits between the sea and the old gate (or portal) of the castle and its name is derived from paraporti, which means small gate. As you approach the chapels, take notice of the extreme white color of the buildings in contrast to the deep blue of the nearby sea. The oldest and main chapel is Agii Anargyri dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the protector of the islands. The interiors of the chapels are very dark and sparsely decorated so that the contrast with the bright exterior lends focus to a visitors' faith. You can enjoy photographing this "melting wedding cake" of a church against the blue sky, or if it not to your liking, try one of the other more than 300 small churches on this little island.
Little Venice- Sitting at the edge of the seas as if it were a wave break is a neighborhood different then all the rest, Little Venice. The houses here date back the the middle of the 18th century. They were built by wealthy sea merchants and captains. Most of the buildings are 3 stories tall instead of the typical 2 stories on the rest of the island, and they have small wood balconies that hang over the water. Because the proximity to the sea, most of them also have a door that opens directly to the water. Legends say that these wealthy home owners were secret pirates who would loot ships and then bring the goods directly to their home by way of the sea. This allowed them to live as upstanding citizens on the island since no one had access to the backs of their houses to see what was happening. Today some of the homes are still private residences while others are tavernas and discos.
Windmills of Mykonos- There are two main natural elements on Mykonos, the sun and the wind. The houses are painted white to reflect the heat, and many have high courtyard walls to keep the wind at bay. This famous wind also made perfect conditions for windmills. In the 19th century the windmills were built and used to grind wheat into flour. The flour was then used to make bread that was sold to sea merchants who stopped here. The windmills are a circular structure with a cone shaped roof made of wood. Not far from Little Venice at the edge of the sea you will find a small series of windmills still standing. These have become the symbol of Mykonos.
Museums on Mykonos- If relaxing and visiting nearby Delos are not enough for you, then consider one of the following options. The Archaeological Museum houses exhibits found on nearby Rheneia. When Delos was inhabited they did not allow burials on the island, so nearby Rheneia was used as a burial ground. Because of this, many of the items in the museum are grave markers. The Folk Art Museum contains a collection of everyday life from Mykonos dating back the the late Middle Ages. Finally the Maritime Museum of the Aegean offers ship models from the Minoan era up until the last century and also a collection of coins.
Private Guides: See Mykonos and learn about its history with a private guide. www.PrivateGuidesInEurope.com
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