Throughout its history, the island of Mykonos has been the home of sailors, the hideout of pirates and the homeland of Greek fighters. Today, it is a global and favorite holiday destination for Greek and foreign jet setters, while it is also known for its attractive environment, beautiful sandy beaches and vibrant nightlife.
The famous pirate spread terror in the Aegean, but also joy on his island, Mykonos, as he helped the locals financially.
Visitors can spend endless hours wandering in Chora, looking at the many shops with clothes and souvenirs. Alternatively, they can take a walk in the western part of Chora, in the famous Little Venice, with the balconies of the houses protruding above the water. A little further is the famous Paraportiani church and just behind it, Agia Sotira. In this small church, which is built on the top of the steep rock, is buried the last Greek pirate Manolis Mermelechas. The famous pirate spread terror in the Aegean, but also joy on his island, Mykonos, as he helped the locals financially. Today he is also known as the “Robin of the Seas”. But what is its history? How did he get this “nickname”? The TV show “Michani tou Chronou” made a tribute to the unknown side of Mykonos a few years ago, mentioning, among other things, some facts about the life and courage of Mermelechas. But let’s learn more…
Mykonos made worthy sailors, but it also had several famous pirates. Mermelechas has been described by many as “The Supporter of the Poor”, as during the Turkish Rule he stole the taxes collected by the Turks – for Passas – from the inhabitants of the surrounding islands and gave them to widows and orphans. Mermelechas’ actions infuriated the Turkish Kapudan Passas, who chased him mercilessly. When he failed to catch him, he threatened to kill all the inhabitants of the island if they did not surrender him. According to Dimitra Nazou, in charge in 2014 at the Mykonos Folklore Museum, no one betrayed him. They were probably afraid of his revenge, so he went alone in his boat and surrendered. Passas did not kill the pirate of Mykonos – as everyone expected, but because of his courage, he set him free. Then he became a baker and supplied bread and rusks to the passing ships. Later, according to Andriani Theochari, then secretary of the cultural folklore association of women of Mykonos, he became an undertaker, after he having overcome the plague and become immune. He remained in Mykonos, where he eventually died of cholera and went down in history for his generosity and solidarity.
Mermelechas has been described by many as “The Supporter of the Poor”, as during the Turkish Rule he stole the taxes collected by the Turks – for Passas – from the inhabitants of the surrounding islands and gave them to widows and orphans.
At sea he was a cruel pirate, but on land he was a benefactor and helped widows and orphans. This is how the “Robin of the Seas” came about, since from the spoils of his piracy, he helped financially those in need. There were, in fact, some proverbs that had come out at that time, with one of them going something like this: “Mermelecha eche me ennoia, Mermelecha me ta genia”. (Mermelecha care for me, Mermelecha with the beard). Today, in the folklore museum of the island there is a well that is supposed to have existed outside the pirate’s oven, while in the small church of Agia Sotira are located his bones. His action is especially known to the people of Mykonos, but also to tourists who are interested in learning unknown details about the past of an island with a rich history, which has much more to offer than pleasures and living off.