FIRST APPROACH TO THE CYCLADIC ISLANDS
MYKONOS AND DELOS
The island of Mykonos belongs to a group of Aegean islands called the Cyclades: the most visited and famous islands in Greece. It was the ancient Greeks who named this group of islands the Cyclades since, when joined up, they formed an imaginary circle around the island of Delos. This circle starts in Kea (Tzia) and ends in Andros, and is made up of the following islands: Amorgos, Anafi, Sikinos, Folegandros, Ios, Santorini, Milos, Kimnos, Sifnos, Serifos, Kythnos, Syros, Tinos, Mykonos, Delos, Paros, Antiparos, Naxos and some other small islands such as Koufonissi, Schinousa, Iraklia and Donoussa.
These islands have dry, Mediterranean climate, with little rain. There are several cultivated expanses on these islands. Vines, fig trees and olive trees grow prolifically on their lands.
|Cycladic architecture is typical of the Aegean Sea: white houses with courtyards and balconies, narrow streets with painted stones, innumerable blue domed churches, a spattering of Venetian castles, wonderful beaches and hills dominated by mills.|
The fame of the island and the large number of visitors, sometimes important personalities from all around the world, provided the economic boost that made of Mykonos a famous trading centre.
In the castle area, where the medieval and old centre of the town is located, the Paraportian group of churches, consisting of five chapels, preserves its magnificent white colour, impressive for its natural plasticity. These churches, together with the picturesque windmills, have become a symbol of the island’s authenticity.
The Little Venice is one of the most picturesque corners of the Cyclades. This artists’ neighbourhood, full of houses with colourful balconies, looks out towards the sea.
In Mykonos you can taste the authentic flavours of Cycladic and Mediterranean cuisine, which has evolved to use fish, local meat, vegetables and seafood, as well as the island’s popular dairy products and sweets. The most popular local dishes are: louza, a spiced pork sausage; kopanisti the typical white cheese of Mykonos; kremmydopita, a pie with onions and local cheese; melopita, a pie with sweet cheese and local cheese, honey, cinnamon and eggs; and the very popular macaroons, called smygdalota, sweets with almond powder and icing sugar.
Delos Island is very close to Mykonos, daily boats and ferries connect them. Nowadays the island, covering an area of 3.5 km2, is uninhabited. Delos is one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece. According to legend, it was here that Leto gave birth to Artemis and Apollo. The Ionians that arrived in 1,000 BC brought with them the cult of Apollo and Delican parties (with songs and games in his honour).
The Ancient Thera, an important archaeological site, is divided into two by a sacred path. It is located on the top of the Messavouno Mountain, about 396m above the sea level, between the beaches of Kamari and Perissa. Founded in the 9th century BC by the Dorian colonists, whose leader was Theras, it remained inhabited until the Byzantine period. The ruins over the sea are from the 3rd century BC and the results of Ptolemaic influence, with remnants of Hellenistic and Roman civilizations.
The Minoan City of Akrotiri is an ancient underground Minoan city of great archaeological interest. Located in the south of the island, it is probably one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. It has been called “the Pompeii of the Greek islands”. Discovered in 1866, it has been linked to the legend of the lost city of Atlantis. Excavations are still going on.
The Church of Panagia Episkopi. Located near the village of Duna Gonia, this church was founded by the Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus. On the 15th of August a festival in the honour of the Virgin is celebrated and islanders and visitors from all around the world join in.