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About 3,500 years ago, the eruption of this dramatic volcanic island, brought about the beginning of the end of the Minoan civilisation. Sailing into the great sea-filled crater is one of the great experiences of the Aegean and makes the legend of Atlantis seem entirely plausible. The huge cliffs of banded pumice surrounding the Caldera are undeniably spectacular. With its apocalyptic past and extraordinary landscapes, Santorini provides a unique and fascinating journey.
Santorini is breathtakingly beautiful, sophisticated and completely unique, with its whitewashed houses incredible landscape and one of the most spectacular sunsets in the Mediterranean.
Before the eruption, the island was known as Strongili, meaning Circle, as it was formed around the existing volcano at its centre. Now, only the smaller island of Thirassia remains, with the islets of Palea and Nea Kameni as the ‘plug’ in the centre of the Caldera. Always renowned for the fertility of its soils, the interior of Santorini, in contrast to its spectacular coastline, is a verdant patchwork of fields and vineyards. The famous ‘Nichteri’ wine is produced here, so named because the grapes are traditionally pressed at night when the air is cooler, slowing down the fermentation and giving the wine its characteristic soft flavour.
Fira is the island’s capital, from a distance the village appears like snow on a mountain ridge, perched on the rim of a great cliff, with its whitewashed houses. Here you can indulge in some inspiring coastal walks, wandering through the white cobbled streets, one gets the feel of the old world charm blended with modern day comforts. It is a dramatic town, with galleries carved into the volcanic rock and a superb museum displaying Cycladic art and many of the finds from Akrotiri.
Oia is the most delightful village on the island. Pristine white houses, often shaded by bougainvillea and jasmine, cling to the cliff face. The views across the Caldera are extraordinary and the sunsets sublime.
Santorini’s beaches are mostly black or deep red due to the volcanic rock, and by midday during the summer many will retreat to the cool shade of the waterfront tavernas. Exploration of the island on foot can be very rewarding. The headland of Mesa Vouno has caves and freshwater springs and here the remains of the original city of Fira can be found, which became the major centre of population after the eruption. Pyrgos and Messaria are also nearby, the latter notable for its forest of church domes rising over the houses clustered in the ravine below.
Akrotiri, Cycladian Pompeii, this ancient centre of Minoan life, the largest and most important outside Crete, was buried in volcanic ash. Originally partially excavated by Professor Marinatos, who was killed by a collapsing wall and is now one of the island’s heroes, much remains to be uncovered. However, there are extraordinary frescoes and fascinating Cretan pottery. Akrotiri is a poignant reminder of events that happened over three millennia ago.
Nowhere else in the Mediterranean does history, legend and beauty join in such dramatic surroundings as on this one small island.
- Villa Agrikoia Santorini
- Amber Light Villas
- Gold Suites Santorini
- Archipel Mansion, Fira, Santorini
- Aressana Spa Hotel and Suites
- Terra Blue Hotel Santorini
- Avianto Suites Santorini
- Azar Villas Santorini
- Charisma Suites Santorini
- Cosmopolitan Suites Santorini
- Manos Small World Santorini
- Meli Meli Accommodation
- Notos Therme and Spa
- On The Rocks Hotel
- San Antonio Luxury Hotel Santorini