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Mykonos is a legend, in more ways than one. The transformation of a dry, knotty, granitic island of dour sailors and fisherfolk into the plush Mykonos of today is the stuff of legend. Nobody could have foreseen it a century ago, or predicted that this waterless and windswept is land, well-known for its harshness since Antiquity, would become a home to almost 10,000 people, with twice as many guests in addition during the summer, served by two harbours and an airport that never seem to know a moment’s pause in the season. Then there are the other legends: the nightlife, the gay life, the beaches, the inter national cuisine, and the fashion parades of Europe’s jet set. It must be said that the frenzy of the 70s and 80s is largely over, and Mykonos has now settled into being a well-ordered, up-market tourist destination. Out of sea son it can be a delight, and only a reflex prejudice could blind one to the beauty of the Chora’s curving harbour and the houses stacked behind, as seen from the sea on arrival. The experience of visiting Mykonos, however, is necessarily very different from that of other islands. It has become a place for those who desire their Greek island to be an extension of the city—cosmopolitan, busy, materially well-provided, a place to show off new clothes. For many temporary residents, Mykonos is a background, a pretty vessel into which to transpose the familiar routines (and problems) of prosperous suburbia—shopping, ethnic cuisine, luxury cars, searching for a parking place, and creating improbable gardens of imported exotic plants watered with imported water. Mykonos is never dull: for the student of humanity there is ample scope for reflection. With the fading of every riotous Saturday night into the dawn of a new Sunday, as the tables are being finally cleared at some of the more colourful of the island’s bars around the church of Aghia Kyriaki, the silver-haired septuagenarian ladies of Mykonos, dressed in black, some with their wind-eroded husbands, are already gathering for a liturgy at the church in the cool of the morning. It is an encounter of two worlds, with nothing at all in common. But it continues undisturbed, and on Mykonos both worlds are felt more intensely through the proximity of the other.
The story of the island’s past is told amply in the Chora’s several excellent museums of folklore, and of maritime and rural life. The intractability of their land forced generations of islanders from Mykonos to seek an existence on the seas by trade or by piracy; the women folk who stayed on shore did most to manage the meagre agricultural productivity and animal husbandry. That there was energy and time to spare on top of this to build the 800 or so chapels and churches on the island, that seem to sprout from every rock, is remarkable. Mykonos has no tradition of wall-paintings in its churches, but the carved wooden icon screens, often coloured, within the plain interiors are a beautiful adornment. And the simple and en during logicality of the Chora’s cubic, balconied houses has been an inspiration to modern architects as diverse as Adalberto Libera and Le Corbusier.
Mykonos Island is part of the Cyclades Island Group, Greece.
Mykonos General Information.
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