History of Mykonos

Legends old and new

Archaeological findings suggest the presence of the Neolithic tribe Kares on the island in 3000 BC, but the first real settlers seem to be the Ionians from Athens in the early 11th century BC. There were many people living on the neighboring island of Delos, just 2 km (1.2 miles) away, which meant that Mykonos became an important place for supplies and transit. It was, however, during ancient times a rather poor island with limited agricultural resources and only two towns. Its inhabitants were pantheists and worshipped many gods


Mykonos has a land area of 85.5 square kilometers and rises to an elevation of 341 meters  at its highest point. It is situated 150 kilometers east of Athens in the Aegean Sea. The island features no rivers, but numerous seasonal streams two of which have been converted into reservoirs.

The island is composed mostly of granite and the terrain is very rocky with many areas eroded by the strong winds. High quality clay and barite, which is a mineral used as a lubricant in oil drilling, were mined on the eastern side of Mykonos until the late 1900s. Mykonos gained the nickname "Capri of Greece" because of its numerous beaches. The island has a population of nearly 12,500, most of whom live in the main town of Chora.


In Greek mythology, the Mykonos was named after its first ruler, Mykonos, the son or grandson of the god Apollo and a local hero. The island is also said to have been the location of a great battle between Zeus and Titans and where Hercules killed the invincible giants having lured them from the protection of Mount Olympus. It is even said that the large rocks all over the island are the petrified testicles (or, in bowdlerized versions of the myth, the entire corpses) of the giants; this portion of the myth is the source of the slang term "stones" attested in most major European languages modriki (pronounced 'Mon-driki')


The sun shines for up to 300 days a year and it only rains between February and March. This arid climate means that there is very little natural vegetation. Although temperatures can rise as high as 40C in the summer months, the strong winds means average temperatures are usually around 28C. July and August brings the famous "Meltemi winds from the north and cools the island.