Santorini is definitely the most well-known Cycladic destination of unique natural beauty, nowhere to be found around the world. With whitewashed houses crammed on top of the caldera and volcanic beaches of deep blue waters, here are just 3 reasons why Santorini should be in your bucket list!
Check out the magnificent Caldera of Thera
Santorini island - credits: turtix/Shutterstock.com
It is no secret that Santorini is an active but thankfully dormant volcano. Its most destructive eruption happened in 1627-1600 BC, which resulted into the annihilation of the settlement of Akrotiri and to a huge tsunami that swept the northern shores of Crete which according to some scholars signified the end of the Minoan civilization. The magnitude of the eruption was so intense that a whole part of the island sunk into the bottom of the sea, resulting in the today’s peculiar shape of Santorini. Just a small part of the middle of the crater is still visible between the island of Thera and the neighbouring island of Therasia. Despite the catastrophic event, nowadays Santorini and the results of this violent event, operate as one of the most iconic landscapes Greece and the whole of the Mediterranean region has to offer. People continued to inhabit this small piece of land, and after the succession of the centuries succeeded in reforming the landscape to their advance, creating some of the most beautiful traditional islandic settlements.
Stroll around the beautiful villages of Oia and Imerovigli
Island of Santorini - credits: Andrew Mayovskyy/Shutterstock.com
Just 2km away from the capital of the island Fira lies the traditional village of Imerovigli. A landscape-protected settlement with special regulations concerning building activities and structure modifications, the old village of Imerovigli ensures you an experience like no other! Its name derives from the combination of a Greek and a Latin word and relatively means a watchtower. This location was the site of the medieval castle built by Marco Sanudo after the establishment of the Duchy of the Archipelago in 1207. The nearby imposing rock of Skaros was the actual site of the castle and according to the medieval trend, a settlement exploited its protection and sprang up nearby.
Oia is located at the northern part of the island. It is one of the landscape protected settlements of Santorini and its history stretches back to the ancient times of Thera. It used to be known as Apano Meria which literally means the upper side of the island in modern Greek. During medieval times it was under the Sanudo occupation just like the rest of the island but the greatest economic development of the settlement happened in the 19th century. Then, the shipowners of Oia were known of sending their ships far away from the Greek region for trading, even as far as Alexandria or Russia. As proof to that stands the captain houses that are to be found in Oia, examples of Cycladic upper-class architecture.
Both of these settlements are actual “balconies” to the Caldera of Thera, offering a stunning view to the volcano and the open blue Aegean Sea. Do not miss your chance to visit them, and experience the mesmerizing Aegean sunset.
Visit the prehistoric Aegean Pompeii
At the very south of the island, lies the prehistoric site of Ancient Thera. Even though the site is small, its significance and magnitude for European history are out of question. Excavations on the site revealed that the spot was inhabited even as far back as 4500 BC. The site was continuously inhabited and in the 18th century BC, the settlement had developed into a prosperous and bustling city. During the 17th century, Akrotiri had a functional and widespread sewerage and irrigation system, buildings of a few stories high, artisan workshops, public spaces, religious centres, private houses of different sizes addressing to different social classes, a sophisticated ruling system and advanced art and culture. Proof to all that stand the ruins of the site.
After the Minoan Eruption, a thick layer of volcanic debris and ash destroyed and covered the ancient site of Akrotiri like Vesuvius did with Pompeii centuries after. The result was the preservation of elaborate wall paintings reflecting a prosperous society, garments and furniture of thousands of years old and the actual preservation of the urban body of the city with high houses revealing the complicated urban plan of the site. The artefacts collected during the excavations are simply astonishing because of their level of preservation but most importantly because of the reflection of the level of sophistication those people had already achieved during the 17th century BC! With just a small part of the city excavated, who knows what the future might hold not just for the island of Santorini but for the whole world as well. Waste no more time, and once you find yourselves on the island spare a day to visit this prehistoric Pompeii.
So, if you are wondering what is all the fuss about the island of Santorini, it is an understatement to say that we just scratched the surface of what this iconic Cycladic island has to offer. Dreaming of finding yourselves under the shade of a blossomed bougainvillaea and gazing at the blue of the Aegean Sea from your small white balcony? Then, Santorini is definitely the next holiday destination for you! Do not waste more time, plan your own trip to Santorini or a cruise around it, or perhaps check out one of our Greece tours.