Close up of two of the windmills of Mykonos Town, Greece

Cyclades - The Mills of Mykonos and the Sacred Island of Delos

Author: Sue Rogers
Date: 29th May 2010

The Cyclades Islands

The Cyclades is an archipelago of some 220 islands floating above Crete, in the Aegean Sea. The name means islands around (cycling) the tiny, but sacred island of Delos. These islands are stereotypical Greece, just what one imagines. Whitewashed houses, deep blue shutters and glorious sandy beaches. The largest island of the Cyclades is Naxos, the most populated is Syros and the most famous is Santorini. (Both Milos and Santorini are volcanic.) But several are well known on the tourist circuit and Mykonos attracts more than its fair share of visitors

Mykonos

Mykonos is composed mostly of granite and the terrain is very rocky, with many areas eroded by the strong winds, so its nickname is "The Island of the Winds". It was named after its first ruler, the son or grandson of the god Apollo and a local hero. The island is also said to have been the location of the Gigantomachy, the great battle between Zeus and Giants and where Hercules killed the invincible giants, having lured them from the protection of Mount Olympus. According to myth, the large rocks all over the island are the petrified corpses of the giants.

Mykonos Town

Mykonos Town (also known as Chora) is very stylish, Gucci and Tiffany in classic white wash. The harbour is picture postcard perfect. The finger of land that forms one edge of the harbour, lined with restaurants and bars, is known as Little Venice. For obvious reasons. You definitely need a credit card here.

The iconic sixteenth century windmills (on every promotional photo) stand guard over the town, posing for photographs. If you can manage one without any other tourists in it you’ve done very well.

Around Mykonos

The beaches of Mykonos are described as golden. but they aren't stunning. There's Paradise Beach and Super Paradise Beach, if you like thumping music, massive beach bars and celebrity DJs. Not my idea of paradise. Who needs beaches when you can lounge on a muslin swathed sunbed, shop till you drop or eat in eye-poppingly expensive restaurants? (Well - me?)

The hillsides are littered with Greek and Roman ruins. The whole island is an archeological site. But a boat trip is the best way to escape the hordes. Other islands of the Cyclades, Naxos, Syros, Delos are within easy reach by ferry or organised day trip and there are numerous islets. The south is more tranquil. Miniscule Dragonisi Island has even has a sea cave for snorkelling, along with the monk seals.

The internet says Mykonos is’ ‘the ultimate gay destination’. Maybe, it wasn’t the best place to go for my singles holiday.

Delos - The Sacred Island

Delos is only two miles from Mykonos and an easy boat ride by ferry from Mykonos Town. It was revered, in ancient times as the Sacred Island as this is the mythological birthplace of Apollo-Sun, god of daylight, and his twin sister Artemis-Moon, goddess of night light.. It drew thousands of pilgrims and worshippers. Its heyday was during the first millennium B.C, when it was a major cosmopolitan port, attracting the rich and famous to live there. it was even described as 'the greatest commercial centre of the whole world'.

Today, the island is designated on the UNESCO Heritage list. It is, literally, one archaeological site. No overnight visitors allowed. You can see the ruins of Doric temples, markets, an amphitheatre, houses with mosaics and the iconic Terrace of the Lions statues. The lions here are replicas. the originals are on display in the little museum.

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