You are on Mykonos. Joy! Freedom!

The soonest possible in the morning, go to one of the many sandy beaches, shut your eyes and open them in the quiet deep blue of the sea… Forget all your worries, you are reborn in a magic world! This is a blessed place full of wonders. Give yourself up to the riches of the island. Retain this memory. You are at the center of the Aegean.

With an area of 86.1 km2, Mykonos together with Delos, Rheneia and a few surrounding rocky islets, constitute a single island complex. According to Greek mythology, there was once a violent clash between the Olympian Gods and the Giants. Myth has it that Hercules, inevitable ally to the gods, came face to face with the Giants in Mykonos, where he buried them under huge rocks. Mykonos’s rocky terrain, scattered with immense granite masses, truly seems to have been created during a battle among giants. According to another tradition, the ‘eponymous hero’ of the island is Mykonos, the son of Anias who was King of Delos at the time of the Trojan War and was himself the son of Apollo and the nymph Roió. Karians and Phoenicians are said to have been the first inhabitants of Mykonos. Ionians from Athens settled on the island around 1000 BC and prevailed, driving away the earlier inhabitants. Following the Persian Wars, Mykonos acceded to the Athenian Alliance (478 BC). Large tracts of Mykonos belonged to the Sanctuary of Delos and were rented out as farmland. However, burial findings, building relics and inscriptions show that the island flourished during Hellenistic times.

The destruction, in 69 BC, of the Sanctuary of Delos appears to have adversely affected Mykonos. During the early Post-Christian period, many of the Cyclades had been severely depopulated. Following the reign of Constantine the Great, the Cyclades became part of the Eastern Roman State and came under the administration of Asia, while in Constantine Porphyrogennitus’s De Thematibus they are referred to as belonging to the Aegean Theme. Mykonos continued to be a Byzantine possession until the late 12th century, immediately followed by the period of the Frankish Aegean. In the Late Byzantine period, given their critical geostrategic position, the Aegean islands were in the crosshairs of the powers with interests in the Aegean: the Byzantine Empire, Genoa, the Catalans, Venice and, later, the Ottoman Empire. Thus, when the Fourth Crusade (1204) ended at the expense of Byzantium, the Aegean islands, most of which had become pirate bases, were divided up between the Latin Emperor of Constantinople, the Crusaders and Venice.

When Suleiman the Magnificent became sultan of the Ottoman Empire, most of the Aegean islands, including Mykonos, were occupied by the pirate and head of the Ottoman fleet Hayreddin Barbarossa, ushering in a period of subjugation of the islands to the Sultan (1537-1566). Under Ottoman domination, Mykonos developed a strong communal administration, which took on various duties, including the coordination of collecting and redistributing of the island’s taxes.

During the 17th century, the island’s economy relied mainly on agriculture and stockbreeding. But the infertility of the soil and the poor agricultural yield, combined with the Mykonians’ experience at sea, led them to seafaring and commerce. At the same time, the increasing number of windmills contributed to the processing and sale of - mostly imported - grains. It is at this time that, due to its location, Mykonos begins to act as a supply station for passing ships.

After the Russo-Turkish War (1768-74) won by Russia, favorable conditions for Greek merchant shipping were established in the Aegean. Thus, Mykonians were later able to help in the War of Independence against the Turks (1821), during which Mando Mavrogenous, a local noble woman, became a national heroine.

With the birth of the new Greek state, Mykonos witnessed the renaissance of a dynamic merchant class which, through its ties to Greeks abroad, developed a flourishing trade with Russia, Romania, Italy and France, as well as Alexandria, Smyrna and Constantinople. In 1855, Mykonos boasted a large number of sailing ships (2% of Greece’s fleet).

The systematic excavation on Delos began in 1873. As early as 1926, cruise ships brought wealthy travelers to the sacred island. Mykonos soon became a cosmopolitan summer retreat, attracting countless visitors from across the world. Nowadays, thanks to the enterprise and business acumen of its inhabitants, Mykonos holds one of the most enviable positions in today’s international tourist market.