Use these intriguing Mykonos facts to impress your friends, family or hot date while holidaying on the island of the winds.
Yes, you’ve heard all about the glorious beaches, the wildly glamorous nightlife and the misbehaving celebrities. But you probably know little or next to nothing about its myths, legends and history. Were you aware, for example, that Mykonos once played second fiddle to Delos, which was antiquity’s most cosmopolitan centre? Get ready to dive head to toe in whitewashed island allure with these fun and interesting Mykonos facts.
1. According to mythology, Mykonos was named after its first ruler Mykons –himself no less than the grandson of god Apollo and nymph Rhoio, a descendent of Dionysus.
2. Mykonos has also been the site of the battle between Zeus and the Titans. As the story goes, upon defeating the local Giants, Hercules imprisoned them under the rocky terrain of Houlakia Bay, where they allegedly remain.
3. There are 15,000 permanent residents on Mykonos in the winter. 4,000 of them are non-Greek. However, in the summer the island accommodates over 50,000 people in a day. Overall, more than two million tourists decide to get a taste of Mykonos’ high life every year.
4. A party island through and through, Mykonos celebrates over 70 country fairs. 38 take place in the summer, from June till September.
5. There are more than 40 beaches in Mykonos, four of them nudist. The same free spirit is manifested in the island’s wholehearted embrace of the LGBTQ community. One of the top gay-friendly destinations on the planet, Mykonos every year hosts a multitude of special events catering to the colourful, queer crowd.
6. Mykonos’ raving night scene is fabled. There are over 100 bars and clubs here, two of which voted among the top 20 clubs on the planet. One of the most legendary bars on the island –if not the world– was Pierro’s. It opened in 1973 and hosted some of the most renowned parties of the time. Nowadays everyone who’s anyone heads to the epic Bao’s Bar and Toy Room in Little Venice.
7. Every local family claims its own chapel, as there are over 700 churches on the island –most of them dating back to Byzantine times. Perhaps the most famous -and that’s not to mention super instagrammable– is Panagia Paraportiani in the Kastro neighbourhood dating from 1475.
8. Nowadays home to the island’s hottest restaurants and bars, the photogenic Little Venice was once a notorious pirates’ den. Back in the 19th century, these colourful captain houses with their balconies that are literally suspended above the waves, were the stomping ground of the era’s most ferocious buccaneers, who drank and partied there like there was no tomorrow.
9. Mykonos was established in the 11th century by the Ionians from Athens, one of four major tribes in ancient Greece. It was however mainly a transit spot to the neighbouring sacred island of Delos, which was the most important religious and commercial centre in antiquity. Times are changing indeed!
10. Always posing next to Hollywood stars, the island’s mascot and arguably coolest celebrity is Petros the Pelican. The story begins in 1958 when a white pelican was found injured off the coast of Mykonos. He was nursed back to life by the local fishermen who nicknamed him Petros. The adorable animal started hanging out with them on the port’s few tavernas and soon became a favourite of the jet setters who were at the time discovering Mykonos. Petros even went to New York on a promotional tour but went missing. He was eventually found napping between cars on the street. Alas, back on his island, he was killed in an accident in 1985. To soothe the locals’ anger and grief Jackie O and the zoo of Hamburg donated a pelican each. Nowadays there is more than one pelican roaming the alleyways around the port. Make sure to take a picture!
11. Mykonos has been the backdrop of many international movies – from Bourne Identity to Shirley Valentine. Can you spot their filming locations?
12. One of the lesser-known Mykonos facts is that its trademark whitewashed houses were not always white: Le Corbusier might have exalted Mykonos’ pristine beauty, but in point of fact, these homes were yellow, pink or blue until the 1930s, when former Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas, decreed that for hygienic purposes all Cycladic residences must be covered with lime. Cholera was plaguing the country and lime was at the time the most potent disinfectant; so the once colourful houses turned white overnight.
13. Mykonos has a barren landscape, yet it is actually far richer in fauna than one might think. Its signature animals are the large, spiky lizards that sit on the rocks and the dry stone fences. Locals still call them “crocodiles”, as the Ionians who once inhabited Mykonos did several aeons ago. In fact, the very species of the crocodile owes its name to this characteristic Mykonian creatures: When the Ionians arrived in Egypt they thought that the –then called-champsai– swimming in the Nile, looked like the lizards in Mykonos and therefore named them “crocodiles”, too.
14. Built by the Venetians, the iconic Mykonos windmills date back to the 16th century. Grain production was the locals’ main occupation at the time and the windy conditions that prevailed made their island ideal for the operation of windmills. Today, some 16 windmills survive –one of them is turned into a museum attesting to the island’s agricultural past, while the oldest still standing, is privately owned.
15. Until the explosion of tourism in the late ’60s, the locals relied on fishing for sustenance. Fishing lessons were even included in the school’s curriculum up until the 50s and the 60s.
Get inspired from these interesting Mykonos facts and book your holidays at the Semeli best 5-star luxury hotel in Mykonos Town
We’ve assembled some of our favourite Mykonos facts so you can get excited ahead of your upcoming holiday. Make the most of it with an exceptional stay at the Semeli best hotel in Mykonos Town, an enchanting boutique establishment with the latest trappings of luxury, fine dining and an award-winning spa. Our VIP concierge will take care of all of your needs and whims and maybe even put together a personalised island tour so you can discover first-hand more enchanting Mykonos facts.