MYKONOS - HISTORY
When exploring the history of Mykonos it is difficult to find an accurate beginning as its development is richly entwined with fact and legend dating back thousands of years. According to ancient Greek mythology both Hercules and Poseidon had a hand in destroying some of the Giants that opposed Zeus on this very island. Later, the island was named in honor of Apollo`s grandson Mykons.
Archaeological findings show signs of the Neolithic tribe Kares on the island, dating back to 3000 years B.C . However, it seems that the Ionians from Athens were the first ones to really settle in Mykonos in the early 11th century B.C, occupying the island after throwing out its previous habitants. During ancient times, Mykonos, due to its proximity to Delos, which was then highly populated, became very important as a supply island. The short 1 and a quater mile distance between the islands was frequently travelled, since religious rules specified that no one should be born or die on Delos.
As the island of Delos began to develop as a sacred center, Mykonos was swept along with the influences of the different people who would come to control the region. The Phoenicians, Macedonians and Athenians left their mark but it was not until the coming of Alexander the Great that the fate of Mykonos took a turn for the better by becoming a commercial center for agriculture and maritime trade. High quality clay deposits also improved the island`s importance, as ceramic containers were the best means of preserving and exporting goods during ancient times. The island`s future continued to flourish reaching a state of enormous wealth during the time of Roman occupation and the reign of Augustus Caesar.
In 1207, like the rest of the Cyclades, Mykonos came under Venetian rule which lasted until 1537, when the Turks dominated the islands along with the rest of Greece. The inhabitants were great sailors, so they provided important help to the Greek Revolution against the Turkish yoke, in 1821, offering 22 ships, crew and ammunition. After the country`s independence in 1830, the island`s economy and commercial power were slowly but steadily reestablished.
Starting as early as ancient times, the Cycladic islands as well as the rest of the Mediterranean sea had become famous as a natural breeding ground for piracy. The island of Mykonos received its fair share of buccaneer influence, which lasted right up until the beginning of the 19th century.
In the period between World War I and II, visitors were attracted here mainly by the archaeological site of Delos. During the `50s, modern-day tourism started to grow, along with the island`s population, but it was in the following two decades of the `60s and the `70s that, thanks to the likes of Jackie O and numerous other jetsetters, the island was turned into one of the most cosmopolitan holiday resorts of the Mediterranean, if not of the world.
Attracting people from A-listers and millionaires to backpackers and ravers, it is still at the height of its popularity, and the amazing thing is that, despite its rapid development and numerous, as well as drastic changes, it has managed to preserve its color and character intact.
With the coming of steamships also came the first signs of modern day tourism. World War II quickly put an end to this as Mykonos while experiencing German occupation suffered greatly through starvation. It took until the mid 50`s for tourism to rise again. Due to the islands unique architecture, relative seclusion and hospitality it soon became a haven for the rich and famous.