Santorini, also known as Thira, is far more than an idyllic destination. It’s an island that whispers its secrets to the visitor. Secrets dating back thousands of years, secrets that have carved its rocks and shaped its tradition…. Like Palaia and Nea Kameni, the silent volcanoes in the middle of the sea or “caldera” as it is called, sleeping in the arms of the deep water, or the traditional white houses built on the top of the cliff facing the archipelago and literally hanging on the air by a thread adding the most delicate embroidery in this nature’s masterpiece…
No wonder why Santorini, a geological miracle is awarded as the World’s Best Island for 2011 by the Travel and Leisure magazine.
Huge volcanic eruptions over the times with the last large one known to be during the Minoan age have created a unique scenery: a visual feast for the hungry eyes. The most known island for romantic escapes in Greece is a window to yesterday and a door to the future for geologists, a possible theory behind the myth of the lost Atlantis for researchers and a paradise for the visitors.
The volcano has always been both a curse and a blessing; it has given the beaches the black or red colors after having spread its ash, lava and pumice all around the island, but it also made the soil fertile for the habitants to cultivate vines, white eggplants, fava (a yellow split pea), caper and the Santorini cherry tomatoes. The Mediterranean tastes of Santorini mainly depend on these products with dishes like fava (which is served as puree with lemon and onion), tomato balls or the stuffed cherry tomatoes. Santorini’s vineyards produce distinctive wines which are greatly appreciated among experts and enthusiasts and the local “Vinsanto” the sweet like liqueur wine is one of the best. The Wine Museum, a natural cave 6 meters below ground exhibits the history of local wine and the life of vine growers whilst once a week a party is organized with local wine tasting, live music concerts and even dance performances.
The heart of the island is Fira being the capital and center point for meetings, shopping and entertainment. The Museum of Prehistoric Thera and the Archaeological Museum have exhibits that will give an insight to the island’s history. On the caldera rim and the narrow streets leading to it, high end boutiques, jewelry and ornament shops will satisfy any taste or budget. Necklaces, bracelets and unique decorative creations made from lava rock would make the perfect gift for the beloved ones. Refreshments at any of the cafés with verandas overlooking at the horizon would give the impression of flying. Nightlife at Fira is rich and crowded as many bars and clubs stay open until early in the morning.
Imerovigli, the geographical extension of Fira is another picturesque village with beautiful view preferred for accommodation by tourists who wish a quieter environment.
Oia, north of the island, is the place to daydream at sunset. Like a performer receiving a warm applause stepping out of the stage, the sun is overwhelmed by the camera flashes and clicks of the tourists who daily occupy every corner of this little village, trying to “instill” his spectacular and colorful exit. The village is inhabited by many artists thus there are many art galleries. Several scenes of Angelina’s Jolie Lara Croft movie “The cradle of life” were shot in this village. On the base of the magnificent cliff, Ammoudi, a small port and beach, is full of traditional taverns offering fresh fish dishes.
Emporio, at the southern part of the island is unique for its architectural structure: lovely houses – each one having its own character – are built one next to the other completing one of the most beautiful puzzles on the island. The narrow streets of the village lead to the top of the hill where the remains of a medieval castle built by Venetians “Castelli” will turn the clock back in time.
Akrotiri ‘s archaeological findings, well preserved from the volcanic materials that covered the island as a shield following the eruption, reveal one of the most sophisticated prehistoric settlements in the Aegean. Multi-storey buildings, drainage system, wonderful wall paintings and objects of unparallel beauty were found almost intact telling their story about the port that once upon a time seemed to be one of the most important urban centers.
Perissa & Perivolos beaches laid on the same shoreline on the southeastern coast of the island are paved with black volcanic sand. Restaurants, bars and clubs are turning the beach into a day club scene. Visitors may also enjoy water sports.
How to get there:
From Bahrain to Athens: Gulf Air – www.gulfair.com
From Athens Eleftherios Venizelos Airport to Santorini (Thira): Olympic Air – www.olympicair.com, Aegean Airlines www.aegeanair.com
From Piraeus Port to Santorini (Thira): Blue Star Ferries – www.bluestarferries.gr, Hellenic Seaways – www.hellenicseaways.gr
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