There are an estimated 500 churches of various sizes dotted around the landscape on the island of Mykonos, many of which were built by faithful believers in thanksgiving for being spared a personal tragedy. Most are white-washed, and many feature a domed or semi-circular roof, with a cross prominently displayed. Undoubtedly, the most visited and most photographed of these familiar landmarks is Panagia Paraportiani, located on the edge of Mykonos town.
Although Paraportiani looks like a single building from the outside, it is actually a group of five churches built on two levels. In the center on the ground floor is the oldest of the churches, Ayioi Anargyroi, with Ayios Sozontas to the west, Ayia Anastasia to the south, and Ayios Evstathios to the east. The church of Paraportiani is built on an upper level above Ayios Evstathios and is accessed by an exterior stone staircase. Paraportiani is so named because it is located near the small gate, or side door, from the wall of the neighboring medieval castle.
It is generally agreed that this complex of churches, now simply referred to as Paraportiani, was built over a period of time during the 16th and 17th century, but it is likely that some of the buildings are even older than that and it is considered to be an architectural historical treasure.
The silhouette of Paraportiani with the sea in the background, either with clear blue skies, or the scarlet setting sun, is the subject of many postcards and holiday photographs. Certainly, it is an attraction worth visiting when exploring Mykonos Town or enjoying an island tour.