Mykonos and Delos

At the very end of the first Jason Bourne movie, The Bourne Identity, a young Matt Damon – after considerable trials & tribulations — is finally able to re-connect with Marie, who has found a hidden (and much more relaxing!) lifestyle renting scooters to tourists on the Greek isle of Mykonos. So….. who wouldn’t want to go to such a place?

Mykonos windmills

Indeed, that island has now become a bit of a tourist mecca, well known for its upbeat party scene, as well as the narrow, maze-like, white-walled and stone alleyways of its main town Chora. It’s a very windy place, so I had special interest in the windmills built by Venetians back in the 16th Century, which were used to grind flour…. and are now a distinctive landmark.

I also took a trip to the nearby island of Delos – birthplace of the gods Apollo and Artemis, and an ancient religious site that became the world’s largest trading port in the year 166 BC (when the Romans made it a free port). The town had 30,000 residents and handled 75,000 cargo ships a year – and since the region at that time had a slave economy, also sold 25,000 slaves a year in its Agora. Unfortunately it all came to an end in 88 BC, when Mithridates, the King of Pontus (in northern Turkey) attacked the island, killed all its inhabitants (or sold them into slavery), looted the city’s treasures, and razed it to the ground. Much of the marble was similarly stripped away over the years, so most of what remains is granite. Today, it is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO; excavations began in 1872, and are still underway today.

Delos

I noted below (in the Athens posting) that some see Hellenic architecture as a forerunner to Modernism…. and the hotel we stayed at in Mykonos decided to take the new & fuse it with the old — with absolutely delightful results! The Alkistis Hotel is located a bit outside of town, near the Agios Stefanos beach, and if you check out their website, you’ll see that it was “inspired by Cycladic minimalism,” and that its “stark, uncluttered design brings out the minimalism characteristic of Mykonos’s traditional architecture with a contemporary sense of style….” Sitting in its open-air restaurant (built with pilotis and sliding glass doors), sipping a local wine, and checking out a beautiful sunset view…… truly sublime!!

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