Probably the most intriguing island of Greece.
The name is more than enough to evoke breathtaking sunsets and landscapes, red and black sand beaches, impressive traditional houses, balconies with views of the volcano. Santorini or Thira is the first destination in Greece and among the most romantic destinations. At the edge of the caldera, amazing villages with Cycladic architecture have been built and offer a breathtaking view. The last major eruption of the volcano of Santorini, which occurred 3,600 years ago, during the Minoan era, covered the three islands Thira, Thirasia and Aspronissi
Firá is the picturesque capital of the island, and it looks like a marvelous painting, perched high up on the edge of the Caldera. Firá, together with Oia, Imerovígli and Firostefáni are located high above on a Cliff, and they are called “Caldera’s eyebrow”. Other famous smaller villages are Akrotíri and Méssa Vounó, with their famous archaeological sites, Pýrgos, Karterádes, Emporió, Ammoúdi, Finikiá, Períssa, Perívolos, Megalohóri, Kamári, Messariá and Monólithos: some of the villages are cosmopolitan, some more peaceful; they are surrounded by vast vineyards, whitewashed cliff-top towns with castles with amazing views of the Aegean.
Oia is world famous for its spectacular sunsets. The island has a growing reputation as a “wedding destination” for couples – not only from Greece but from all over the world. A trip to Santorini with your other half is a dream for anyone who has seen at least one photo of the island’s famous Caldera and exchanging kisses beneath Santorini’s famous sunset is the ultimate romantic experience!
The whole complex of Santorini islands is still an active volcano and is probably the only volcano in the world whose crater is in the sea. The islands that form Santorini came into existence as a result of intensive volcanic activity; twelve huge eruptions occurred, one every 20,000 years approximately, and each violent eruption caused the collapse of the volcano’s central part creating a large crater (caldera). The volcano, however, managed to recreate itself over and over. The last big eruption occurred 3,600 years ago and destroyed the thriving local prehistoric civilization, evidence of which was found during the excavations of a settlement at Akrotíri. Located in Cyclades islands, Santorini was the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in the world.
A caldera is a large cauldron-like hollow that forms shortly after the emptying of a magma chamber in a volcanic eruption. Santorini’s half-moon-shaped bay is the center of the caldera, which collapsed after a volcanic eruption during the Minoan civilization, eventually leading to their decline, just like Pompeii. Indeed, the eruption was so massive that it seems to have caused significant climate perturbations; it was possibly one of the biggest volcanic eruptions on Earth.
Blue Top Church (Santorini Blue Domes Churches). The most photographed Santorini blue domes churches are located in Oia and are the churches of Agios Spiridonas (Saint Spyridon) and Anasteseos (the Church of the Resurrection). Both are built at the edge of the cliffs right next to one another.
Three more Santorini blue domes churches worth visiting are:
- St. Gerasimos church, whose sharp color contrast makes it a spectacle of itself, as are the incredible seascapes you get from there and the gorgeous surrounding scenery.
- Panagia of Agioi Theodoroi church on the rim of the caldera at Firostefani village, also known as the church with the three bells.
- Panagia Theoskepasti in Imerovigli village, which is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and is one of the island’s symbols.
Panagia of Agioi Theodoroi church on the rim of the caldera at Firostefani village, also known as the church with the three bells.
Pyrgos Kallistis is a village with a population of 912 according to the 2011 census. Pyrgos is part of the Municipality of Thira and is situated approximately 7 km away from the island’s capital Fira. It is built amphitheatrically on a hill that offers magnificent views of Santorini in almost all directions. On top of this hill remain the ruins of a Venetian castle (Kasteli) that was once the island’s administrative center. Pyrgos is a typical example of medieval architecture with narrow, labyrinthine streets, fortified walls and hidden passages. Nowadays it is one of the villages of Santorini least spoiled by tourism.
The Red Beach is one of the most scenic and interesting beaches on the island, located near Akrotiri village. The reason for its popularity is its color! Red Beach is without a doubt worth a visit considering that it is a rare sight, probably unique in the whole world, where red is the dominant color. It is enclosed by steep red hills that create a captivating, wild scenery. If you stand on the top you will set eyes on enormous volcanic rocks situated in the sea, small pebbles and sand of various colors, mainly red, all along the beach and appealing dark blue waters. This wonderful palette of contrasting colors will mesmerize you. This is another natural marvel the volcano created.
Akrotiri was buried by the massive Theran eruption during the Late Minoan period; as a result, like the Roman ruins of Pompeii after it, it is remarkably well-preserved. Mural paintings, pottery, furniture, advanced drainage systems and three-story buildings have been discovered at the site.
Akrotiri Archaeological Excavations: The earliest evidence for human habitation of Akrotiri can be traced back as early as the fifth millennium BC, when it was a small fishing and farming village. This all came to an end, however, in the 16th century BC with the volcanic eruption of Thera. The Akrotiri excavation site is of a Cycladic cultural settlement on the Greek island of Santorini, associated with the Minoan civilization due to inscriptions in Linear A, and close similarities in artifact and fresco style murals. The excavation is named for a modern village (Akrotiri) situated on a hill nearby.
Hot Springs is just off the coast of Santorini and is included into most caldera excursions. Today, visitors can take a boat trip from the island to Nea Kameni or Palea Kameni, two small islands made of black sand – a clear indicator of volcanic activity – with thermal waters near them. Nea Kameni, however, is the more popular choice. Here, the impact of the volcano can also be felt beneath the surface since the heat from the volcano itself warms the water, creating a thermal bath. The waters near this island are not only warm, but they also have a yellow tint to it, an indicator of the water’s sulfur content. Sulfur is a desirable mineral in thermal springs because it is said to promote healing.