Antiquity’s most important religious, trade and commercial centre, Delos, was once the world’s quintessentially cosmopolitan destination. Nowadays the baton has been passed on to neighbouring Mykonos, just a couple of nautical miles away: A sun-kissed, star-studded, little slice of heaven on earth, whose reputation for non-stop, champagne-fuelled partying is nothing short of legendary. On 24/7, Mykonos seems to operate on an especially high frequency. And its supercharged vibes are surely connected, fueled and energised by its fascinating mythological, cultural and religious legacy.
Mykonos mythology: The mythic origins of a contemporary legend
Mykonos mythology: The Titans, Hercules & Mykons
Once upon a time were the Giants: They were a clan of oversized, characteristically monstrous creatures who loved to make trouble on Olympus and beyond. Described by Homer as impertinent and revolting, these fearful mythical beings were terrorizing the island of Delos, the sacred birthplace of twins Artemis and Apollo. Alas, their father Zeus was infuriated, therefore ordering Hercules to dispose of said brutes. The mighty hero succeded in slaying them and threw them into the sea in which they were petrified. These rocky formations -the fragmented Titan’s bodies- then formed Mykonos. God Apollo, who was born just a couple of miles away at neighbouring Delos, decided to send his family to live on this newly formed island. It was named after his grandson, Mykons, who grew up to become Mykonos’ first ruler.
Mykonos mythology: Semeli & Dionysus
Historians like Strabo, favour the aforementioned narrative: “All under one Mykonos”, he somewhat prophetically writes in regards to the Titans’ slaughter. Contemporary history proves him right, as the island’s multicultural present demonstrates that indeed it can fit them all. Cult in Mykonos is analogously plethoric. As archaeological evidence suggests its ancient inhabitants, apart from Artemis and Apollo, used to worship Dionysus, the god of wine and merrymaking and his mother Semeli. She was a princess of Thebes, daughter of Cadmus and Harmonia, with whom Zeus became infatuated. His wife Hera was alas infuriated when she found out that her hubby left Semeli pregnant. In the typical ruler of Gods fashion, Zeus had already promised his latest paramour that he would grant her any wish that she wanted. Seeking punishment for their liaison, Hera tricked Semeli into asking Zeus to appear to her in all his glory. Zeus had no choice but to comply. But no mortal could stand the sight of his thunderbolts without bursting into flames. That is what just happened to Semeli. Still, Zeus managed to salvage the unborn child -Dionysus- by sewing him inside his thigh. Later on, Dionysus went down to the underworld and brought his mother into Olympus where she became the goddess Thioni. Both mother and son were revered in Mykonos, as scenes on ancient coins indicate.
Mykonos Mythology: The legends of the past meet modern style and conveniences at the Semeli
Ancient Mykonians celebrated the most mirthful of the Olympians in all sorts of ecstatic ways. Not unlike contemporary Mykonos visitors, who flock every summer in its blue and gold shores to pay tribute to the good life. Some of antiquity’s customs and rituals are in fact surviving almost unchanged up to today, as travellers braving one of the local panygiria (feasts typically honouring a patron Saint or another) will find out.
At the Semeli luxury boutique hotel in Mykonos Town we are certainly fascinated by our land’s cultural heritage, folkways and tales. Thus, inspired by Mykonos mythology, we named our Mykonos 5 star hotel after one of the most saluted deities of the ancient world. Our aim was to imbue our establishment with its namesake goddess’s charm and elegance (she was Zeus favourite paramour, after all!). This is evident throughout the Semeli hotel’s premisses and offerings: From its thoughtful design and luxurious facilities to its opulent collection of the best rooms and suites in Mykonos Town , trademark breakfast, bespoke services, pampering Spa, and gastronomy. In fact, both Krama and Thioni restaurants feature on top of Mykonos foodies lists: With good reason, as they blend a stunning environment and welcoming ambience with the most palatable cuisine. Yet howbeit legendary, these culinary shrines are not the only myths surrounding the Semeli. Since the times of Dionysus, Mykonos has always loved a good party. Adding our contribution to Mykonos mythology we have lovingly created the Semeli lounge lobby bar, Semeli the Bar, Bao’s, Sanctus and Toy Room: Uber fashionable temples of entertainment on an island that had never slept and that has invariably placed fun right at its epicentre!