Everything You Need to Know About Mykonos’ History

The past of this island shines brighter than ever.

Mykonos is not only the most famous cosmopolitan island of Greece, renowned for its exciting nightlife. It also boasts a rich and long history that dates back almost 5000 years.

According to Hesychios, Mykonos derives from the word Mykon meaning heap and themonia, heap of stones on account of the impressive granite boulders that seem to have been heaped by some supernatural hand. Ancient Greeks had created the myth that under the rocks were buried the giants killed by Hercules, who came to the aid of his father Zeus during the Gigantomachy.

Archaeological finds on Mykonos indicate the existence of a significant culture on the island, dating back to to the Late Neolithic period (5th & 4th millennium BC). Ionians settle on Mykonos colonising it after expelling its previous inhabitants. Later on, when Delos was highly populated, Mykonos became very important as a significant port for supplies and transit. It was also an important cultural and religious centre, and many travelled frequently between the two islands. During the time of the Roman occupation and the Middle Ages, Mykonos was part of the Roman Empire and then the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantines defended it against the Arabs in the 7th century and maintained control until the 13th century, when Mykonos came under the control of the Ghizzi dynasty in 1207 and was eventually handed to the Venetians in 1390. In 1537, still under the Venetians, Mykonos was attacked by Hayreddin Barbarossa, a legendary admiral of Suleiman the Magnificent. The Ottomans took over, imposing a system of self-governance which consisted of a governor and an appointed council of syndics.

Mykonos was part of the free Greek State since the first day of its independence in 1830. Sailors and merchants quickly revived the island’s economy, consolidating trade relations with south Russia, Moldavia and Wallachia.


After centuries of foreign rule, the Mykonians took over a leading role in the Greek Revolution of 1821 against the Ottomans, spearheaded by acclaimed national heroine Mando Mavrogenous. Mykonos was part of the free Greek State since the first day of its independence in 1830. Sailors and merchants quickly revived the island’s economy, consolidating trade relations with south Russia, Moldavia and Wallachia. However, after the opening of the Corinth Canal in 1904 and with the beginning of the First World War, Mykonos’ well-developed economy started to decline and, consequently, many locals left to find work in mainland Greece or abroad – especially in the United States.
However, it wasn’t long before tourism rose as the answer to the problems of the local economy, starting with significant archaeological excavations taking place in Delos in 1873, which brought fascinating Ancient Greek artefacts and structures to light. As a result, lovers of Greek history and mythology began taking an interest in the region and, along with the ancient ruins, started to explore the island of Mykonos and partake in the celebrated Greek hospitality.
In the 1930s, Mykonos started to become a popular destination for famous artists, politicians and wealthy Europeans, who had already noticed the island. Those were the first days of Mykonos as a hotspot for the international jet-set. After the dark years of World War II, Mykonos came back to life to blossom into the stunning cosmopolitan destination of the rich and famous – and not only – that we know it as today.

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