History (1A)

According to Greek mythology the island of Mykonos was created following a battle between Hercules and a number of giants; a battle from which he emerged victorious. After the giants' demise their bodies were petrified, forming the foundation of the island. Hence the name Mykonos, which would appear to mean "rocky place". However, another classical myth suggests that the island was named after the hero Mykono, son of Apollo.

Whatever the true origin of the name, what history can confirm is that the island was colonized by the Ionians during the eleventh century BC and later by the Athenians, who further developed the island's possibilities. At the time the island is believed to have featured at least two cities, one near the present capital, within the Kastro itself, the other in Lino where the ruins of two ancient towers remain.

Mykonos lost prominence during the time of the Byzantine Empire, when it was absorbed into the Achaean province. Following this not much was heard of the island again until 1573, when it was attacked by the famous pirate Barbarossa and fell into the hands of the Turks. From then until the late seventeenth century Mykonos became a refuge for pirates and rebels. Many of the island's own inhabitants ended up becoming pirates themselves, basing their survival on the theft and sale of bounty. Paradoxically this activity resulted in great prosperity for the island.

The most affluent period for Mykonos began at this point and culminated in the late eighteenth century, when it became one of the most powerful and influential islands in the archipelago. This prosperity was achieved thanks to extensive merchant and a powerful military fleets which the island maintained up until 1821, the year of independence. 

After the golden age came the decline. In the nineteenth century the domain of steamships and the inability of the inhabitants to adapt to new circumstances led the island into virtual oblivion. The immediate consequence of this was massive migration to more promising regions and the complete abandonment of the island.

Fortunately this situation was brought to a halt in the 1950s when the first tourists heading for the archaeological site of Delos discovered the magic and charm of Mykonos. At that point the economy took an about face and a new era in the island's history began, based on the influx of tourism. This activity has such great potential that even today it remains the island's biggest economic resource.

For many the island combines the transgressive nature of Ibiza with the beauty of Capri in an attitude of constant daring. This unlimited freedom and 'long live love' attitude initially attracted the homosexual community and, shortly afterwards, the hippies, during a time when performance parties were all the rage at Pierro's, one of the island's first venues, and one that now boasts a history of more than 35 years and where even today one can rub shoulders with the island's most extravagant and chic inhabitants. 

That said, the island is open to all comers: nudists, families, drag queens and night owls alike. For this reason anyone who visits this island is made to feel welcome and promises to return.

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