According to mythology, Mýkonos did not exist but was formed by the giant rock Poseidon threw, in order to bury the giants that Hercules killed. Hence her name, which in the ancient language meant “rocky place”. Others believe that the name of the island comes from the hero Mýkono, son of king Ánios of Delos and descendent of god Apollo.
The earliest setllements found on the island are dated between 5000 and 4000 BC., and belonged to the Carians and the Phoenicians. Much later, around the 11th century BC., the Ionians come and colonise the island, building two settlements, the first where today’s town of Mýkonos is and the second close to Palaiókastro. At the time, the island was named “Dípolis” (= two cities, in ancient greek).
In the Classical years, Mýkonos was under the shadow of sacred Delos and therefore, did not prosper. On the contrary, its inhabitants were widely known for their poverty and were made fun in several ancient plays from respected authors. As a result, the word Myconiatis (i.e. the citizen of Mýconos) became a synonym for stingy, miser, greedy.
During the Hellenic – Persian Wars, Mýconos was conquered by the Persian king Darius in 490 BC. and was used as a base for their nautical operations in central Aegean. After the defeat of the Persians by the Athenians in the sea battle of Salamína (480 BC.), Mýconos entered the Delian Alliance and later the Athenian Alliance (477 – 449 BC.).
Around the 2nd century BC., Mýconos became part of the Roman Empire and 4 centuries later, part of the Byzantine Empire. In the 7th century AD, the Byzantines built several walls in order to defend against the Arabian raids. At the end of the 12th century AD, after the 4th Crusade, the island passes on the hands of the Venetians up until the Ottoman admiral Barbarossa, in 1537, conquered it.
Mýconos was liberated in 1822 during the Hellenic Wars of Independence, with the help of the incredible heroine Mantó Mavrogénous. Mantó (Magdalene) was born in Trieste in 1796 by rich greek parents who originated from Mýconos. A little bit before the start of the Hellenic Wars of Independence, Mantó moved to Mýconos and started immediately supporting the fighting greeks, initially against the pirates and then against the Turks (glorified pirates). Spending her fortune, she supplied ships and arms to the cause, trained and send troops in every large battle.
Her parents eventually disinherited her, Mantó spent all of her fortune to the cause and at the end, not only she did not receive any compensation from the new Hellenic state, she didn’t even qualify to get a pension! Ioánnis Kolétis, an abomination of a man who, when his comrades were dying in the battles for a free Hellas, he made a fortune and even became the Prime Minister for a while, he was alarmed when Mantó engaged Aléxandros Ypsilántis. Afraid that the two strong families will join their resources, he managed to break the marriage by poisoning the mind of Aléxandros and then, when Ypsilántis died, exiled Mantó who eventually died impoverished and heartbroken in Páros island, 1840.
There is a large and very interesting archaeological museum in Mýconos town, with vessels, figurines and many other findings from antiquity. There is also a folklore museum.
However, what Mýconos has that other islands don’t is night life! There is no self-respecting dj who has not worked a season in Mýconos. Every summer, some of the best and liveliest parties in Europe happen here. If you are 18 – 25 years old, in body or spirit, your lift off lies in the magical, jovial island of Mýconos.
Mýconos also offers an amazing array of epic sandy beaches, a very nice and natural antidote to last night’s hangover!