Mykonos, Part 13, From the First to the 21st Century

With the fall of Rome, in the first century AD, Mykonos became part of the Byzantine Empire. It remained so until Constantinople fell in The Fourth Crusade in the 12th century.

Holy water at Panagia Tourliani
Holy water at Panagia Tourliani

In 1204 Andrea Ghisi, a relative of the Doge of Venice, occupied the island and it became part of the Venetian province of Tinos. Then, in 1390, at the request of the people of Mykonos, it was given over to direct Venetian rule.

In 1537, while the Venetians still reigned, Mykonos was attacked by the Ottoman navy, who established a fleet on the island. Under the Turks, it  was important naval centre, a position it enjoyed until the end of the 18th century. During this time it also saw a great deal of pirate activity.

In 1821, the Revolution against the Ottomans erupted. Led by Mando Mavrogenous, a wealthy local woman who sacrificed her fortune to the cause, Mykonos played an active role. Their efforts paved the way for national independence which was won finally in 1830.   Mando Mavrogenous is now a national heroine and her statue sits in square in the main town of Mykonos.

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, Mykonos slowly lost its hold as an important port and naval centre. After World War I,  people began to leave the island to find work in mainland Greece and in foreign countries, especially the United States.

1873, the French School of Archaeology started excavations on nearby Delos and the first tourists arrived on Mykonos.

By the 1930s Mykonos had become a holiday destination for the rich and famous and tourism had become the island’s number one industry.

During World War II Mykonos served as a major port for the Allies and was subsequently occupied by the Italians and then the Germans.

After the war, tourism picked up again and from the 1950s until the present day, Mykonos has played host to countless visitors from all over the world. Since has earned its stripes as one of the world’s most desirable holiday destinations, it looks set welcome millions more in the future.

Mykonos, Part 12, ancient history

According to an ancient legend, the island of Mykonos was formed from a rock thrown by Poseidon, god of the sea, during a battle with some giants. Poseidon was victorious and the vanquished giants were finally  laid to rest. Rocky outcrops around the island mark their graves.

The graves of the giants, Mykonos
The graves of the giants, Mykonos

The island took its name from Mykonos, son of Anios who was also the grandson of the god Apollo and the nymph Rhoe.

The discovery of Neolithic settlement in Mavrospalia places the first humans on Mykonos in 3000BC.

In the 11th century BC, the Ionians settled here, leaving coins stamped with their favourite deity, Dionysos, god of wine and celebrations, so it seems entirely fitting that it is should evolve into one of the world’s most popular party places.

Around 500BC, Mykonos was embroiled in the historic battle of Salamis between Persia and Greece. Mykonos fought on the Persian side. Why? Because they felt slighted by the fact that the name of Mykonos was not mentioned in the thanksgiving tripod presented to the Delphic Oracle by the rest of the Greek States. When Persia was defeated, Mykonos became a colony of the state of Athens. Its citizens were forced to pay heavy taxes and endured a long period of hardship.

The island’s fortunes of Mykonos changed when Alexander the Great swept into Greece in 336 BC. Mykonos grew rich exporting grain, agricultural products and high quality clay to support and sustain his campaign to conquer the world.

In 146 BC the Romans marched into Greece. They constructed cities and ports and Mykonos, a valuable outpost in the Mediterranean, grew truly wealthy.