The gods have always been at the centre of life on Mykonos and since the beginning of time the people of the island have built temples, shrines and churches to honour them. Nowadays, Mykonos is home to more than a thousand churches.
Most of the churches on Mykonos are small, private chapels which sit close beside the homes of the families who built them. They differ greatly from the kind of architectural designs created by companies like Churches by Daniels in America. American churches have a far greater presence and are more modern in style, whereas the chapels on Mykonos are unimposing and humble. Here, the bones of ancestors find their final resting place in crypts, or ossuaries and their lives are commemorated here. Family worship is observed and family occasions, like baptisms, marriages and name days are celebrated in these little chapels.
Other churches serve special groups, like the fishermen’s chapel, Agios Nikolakis, down at the edge of the sea on Akti Kambani. Others again serve neighbourhoods and villages for worship, baptisms, marriages and funerals. Whether it be for welcoming a baby into the holy community, or carrying the caskets of loved ones up the isle, there is a church for everything. And every year, on the feast day of the saint to whom the church is dedicated, a spectacular festival is staged.
Although, on the outside, they almost all observe the modest traditions of Cycladic architecture, inside nothing is spared in the decoration. Religious paintings, wood-carvings, gold and silver filigree, tapestry and holy icons all contribute to give each church its own unique beauty.
On Sunday morning of our stay on Mykonos, the sky was blue, the sun was dancing on the sea and the church bells were ringing.