When you think of Mykonos you think of one of the most popular party islands of the Greek islands. The truth of the matter is that it is also one of the most adorned islands with traditionally-styled churches and charming little chapels.
Why does this island have so many chapels and churches?
There is a total of some 600 to 800 churches on the island of Mykonos. This results in one church or chapel per local family!
The majority of small churches and chapels are constructed as centerpieces of annual religious festivals called “panigiria,” which are simply festivals in honor of patron saints of various areas that take place throughout Greece at various times of the year.
In Mykonos, many of the churches and chapels are thought to have been built in honor of the Virgin Mary. Likewise, many of the festivals honor her. However, there are many reasons why the hillsides of Mykonos are packed with stunning religious structures.
Many of the churches and chapels on the island date back to the Byzantine era through to the 19th century and have been declared historical monuments by the Greek Ministry of Culture.
However, not all churches on Mykonos are of historical significance, and many modern churches were built as a religious act of devotion or in commemoration of the location where a miracle was believed to have taken place.
As part of the Mykonian customs, chapels and churches on the island were also built to house the bones of dead family members in a shrine. This practice is still alive across the island today.
Historically, churches and small chapels were constructed around the island facing the sea to aid in the safe voyage and return of sailors.
Mykonos Town is home to 60 churches
Mykonos Town (Chora) alone has over 60 churches, so you should definitely visit some of them while on Mykonos. Here is a sample of what the island has to offer:
Panagia Paraportiani is a popular destination, as this unique complex of five churches, four of which are on the ground while the fifth is on the roof, has become known as an iconic symbol of the island of Mykonos. It is located in Kastro.
Agia Kyriaki is a charming little church and is located in Agia Kyriaki Square in Mykonos Town. Its red-painted domes and white-washed walls are the backdrop to a modern-day cafeteria where many locals and tourists enjoy the church while sipping coffee.
Agios Nikolaos off the harbor in the old port of Mykonos is known by locals as “Agios Nikolakis,” denoting its small size. It is located in the old port of Mykonos Town along the sea and was built in the 4th century to honor Saint Nikolaos, the patron saint of fisherman.
The only Catholic church on the island has been dedicated to the Virgin of St. Rosary since 1668 and is called the Catholic church of Panagia Rodario.
The church caught on fire on May Day in 1991 and the icon of the Virgin of Rosary suffered damage although it has since been restored. Services still take place in this small church year-round.