White-washed churches and chapels are seen all over Mykonos and are part of the island’s characteristic charm. While opinions differ as to exactly how many of these buildings there are on the island, if one takes into account that many families have private chapels on their land, it is estimated that there may be as many as 800.
The majority of the chapels on Mykonos have been built during the last two centuries or so, but there are a number of churches, chapels and monasteries which are very old and have been designated by the Ministry of Culture as national monuments for their historical value. These include the Paleokastro Monastery and Monastery Tourliani, both of which are in Ano Mera, as well as Panagia Paraportiani in Chora.
The chapels of Mykonos are named for various saints, and in keeping with Greek Orthodox tradition, at some chapels celebrations are held on the name day of that particular saint or martyr. Another tradition which some families still adhere to is retrieving the bones of their loved ones from their graves after three years and then storing them in the family chapel.
Each of the chapels or churches, large or small, dotting the landscape of Mykonos was built as a symbol of religious devotion and each has a story behind its reason for being built. They all form part of the fascinating culture of this beautiful Greek island. Be sure to include a visit to some of them in your island tour.