Myconos’s Cine Manto, the perfect refuge from the madding crowds
Situated in the greenest neighborhood of the main town Hora, Cine Manto – ranked by the UK’s Independent among the most beautiful open-air cinemas in the world – is tucked away among oleander, olive, cypress, palm, pomegranate and pine trees where the local cicadas perform their usual summer-long concerts.
Although it is named after Manto Mavrogenous, a heroine of the 1821 Greek Revolution, for locals the cinema’s location will always be known as the Garden of Meletopoulos. Privately held until the middle of the last century, it was donated to the municipality of Myconos in 1957 by the lawyer, benefactor and founder of the town’s public library Ioannis Meletopoulos.
Its potential remained untapped for 40 years until it began to operate as a municipal cinema in 1995 before being sold off in 2011 for economic reasons. It was a turning point for the cinema, which was now in the hands of three creative and discerning locals with a love for film: brothers Andonis (a film director) and Dimitris (a designer) Kioukas, and film producer Thalia Kalafata.
They took particular care of the garden, transformed an old dovecote into an all-day cafe-bar and opened a small church on the premises to the public. They even put goldfish in the old cistern, which is surrounded by a 200year-old cactus plant. (It’s said that Meletopoulos brought it to Myconos when it was already quite old and that its flowers only bloom for one night.)
The cinema doesn’t restrict itself simply to showing films. It also hosts exhibitions, book presentations, children’s theater and art workshops. It has become a popular haunt for artists, a recreational area and a cultural focal point for locals and tourists.
Don’t be surprised if you see the local pelican pushing his way through without a ticket to nab a goldfish from the cistern; he has a little house of his own in the garden. * This article first appeared in Greece Is (www.greece-is.com), an English-language publishing initiative by Kathimerini.