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About Santorini-Greece
Travel

About Santorini-Greece 

The island of Santorini is probably the most intriguing island of Greece. Simply its name is more than enough to unfold in mind stunning sunsets and scenery, white, red and black sand beaches, impresive traditional houses, balconies with vew to the Volcano and and lively night life. All the above, allong with the remains of the antiquity and the myth of the Lost Atlantis justify the words which the tourists determine this wonderful island.
The active volcano of Santorini erupted in the 50’s and ruined many towns of the island. Santorini is also called Thira and its capital is the town of Fira. It is a very touristy island and therefore rather expensive.

The locals live mainly off agriculture and tourism. The islands largest export product is soil; 2.000.000 tons a year are used all over the world, mainly to make concrete. The Suez channel was built with this concrete for example. 

Most holidaymakers stay where the beaches are, Kamari and Perissa, but these places really do not represent the island’s amazing distinctiveness. 

If you can, you should try to stay in Fira, Imerovigli or Oia, the towns on the cliffs, which are very beautiful and full of little cafes, shops and places of interest. There is a bus that goes to the beaches everyday, and it is much better to be in the towns in the evening and on the beaches during the day. If you stay in Monolithos you will have more peace and quiet.

Approaching the island by boat the immediate impression obtained is this is a Greek island unlike any other. The island of Santorini was formed out of the lava from the volcanic eruption in 1660 BC. The central part of the volcano sank into the sea leading to the emergence of Santorini itself and the tiny neighbouring islands of Thirasia, Palaia and Nea Kameni close by. 

Today, Santorini is the only inhabited Caldera (volcano cauldron) in the world. Unlike other islands in Greece, the towns and villages sit densely on top of the massive cliffs of the Caldera and from a distance appear like snow capping the towering mountain tops. The coloured strata of the volcanic rock of these cliffs are spectacular in themselves: chocolate brown, rust red, yellow ochre, white and cream. The geological uniqueness however is not the only thing that makes Santorini a special holiday destination. 

Everyone has read about the spectacular sunsets that occur on this island and the sceptic may question whether the setting sun can really appear differently here than from the neighbouring islands of Naxos or Ios. Nevertheless, the sunsets at Santorini, viewed from the Caldera, really are breathtakingly beautiful when seen as a backdrop to the volcano. The colours that streak the sky change from lilac to deep purple, from yellow to orange to red, as the golden sun sinks and becomes blood red reflecting its light on to the sea and the surrounding little islands, an amazing scene for photography. The eastern slopes of the island are green and fertile, even in October. This is due to the copious vineyards that grow so well in the fertile volcanic soil. The terraced slopes of the mountains use every available part of this fertile land. The island suffer from water scarcity, because it has few natural water reserves, but the nature of the dry soil of Santorini produces grapes that make up one of the best wines of Greece. The climate, though damp is healthy and perfect for producing the famous wine (vinsando), fava beans and tomatoes. There are many wineries and a a local factory for canning tomato paste, tomatoes and vegetables. Santorini used to export a lot of pumice that finally stopped due to the destruction the old pumice mines did to the island. The old mines now are used for the burial of waste. 
Today the island’s economy relies on tourism, where tens of thousands tourists from Greece and around the world visit the island for unforgettable holidays

History Santorini used to be a round island, but during an earthquake and volcano-outbreak in the 15th century BC the middle of the island sunk and gave it the shape it has today. The underwater volcano, which is one of the rare examples of volcanoes in the world created from a circular island that was there before the explosion, a group of islands namely Thera, Thirassia, New and Old Kameni and Aspronisi. This is one of the reasons why many believe Santorini really is where Atlantis once was. The Minoan civilization on theisland was razed after this, but apparently, most people managed to flee.

The island has changed names through history. Originally it was called Stroggyli (“round”) since that was the shape of the island. When the Phoenicians came they named it Kallisti (“the very best”), and finally it got the name Thira after its first ruler.

Theras was the son of the Theban hero Autesion who was a descendant of Cadmus. He was the vice king of Sparta and responsible for his twin nephews Procles and Eurysthenes. When they were old enough to rule by themselves, Theras left Sparta with a company of aristocrats and settled on Santorini.

The Romans originally used the island as a place for exiles, but later helped in building up the island. The Christianization of Santorini took place between the 2nd and 5th century. The island was often ravaged and even destroyed by pirates and in 1204 it was conquered by the Venetians. It was about then the island got its current name. The islands patron saint was Agia Irini (St Eirene) and the foreign sailors called her St Irini – thus Santorini.

The island was destroyed by the Venetians in 1354, and once again in 1397, this time by the conquering Turks. In 1821 Santorini joined forces with the Greek revolutionists and the island was subsequently freed from Turkish rule. In 1956 there was a terrible earthquake which caused many buildings to be ruined. The people in Kamari are almost all from a village that was totally destroyed back then. 

Places to see in Satorini : Fira the capital of Santorini is built on the edge of the caldera at the west side of the island, at an altitude of 250 meters and was founded in the late 18th century. It was the time when the inhabitants of the old capital of the island, the castle of Skaros which was just underneath the village of Imerovigli, began to abandon it because it was heavily damaged by the earthquakes. In the early 19th century, Fira became the capital of the island, and had access to the sea through the port of Fira that is used until today mainly for cruise ships. Fira is the seat of both the Orthodox, and the Catholic Diocese of Santorini.

What impresses at first glance in Fira is the typical architecture of the houses and the stunning views. In the town are based the public offices of the island, most of the shops, restaurants and hotels and the town itself is the most populated of the island. In Fira you can visit also the the art exhibition in the famous mansion Gizi . The Archaeological museum and the Prehistoric museum where you can see items from the excavations in Akrotiri, as well as many artefacts and sculpture from the rich historical past of Santorini from the Prehistoric times, the Neolithic and Minoan era, the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods.
The main square Theotokopoulou is the centre of the town. There you will find most of the banks, the buses and taxi terminals and many shops.
During the evening all the terraces of the privileged cafes at the edge of the caldera filled with tourists that are coming to enjoy a drink as the sun sets over the deep blue Aegean.
At night the small streets along the east side of the town over the caldera are bursting with crowds of holiday makers that walking up and down the steps and narrow labyrinthine stone streets in a colourful environment among numerous shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. During the summer the city never sleeps, numerous cafes and snack bars are open for the clubbers until the early morning hours. In Fira there is also a folklore museum, a citadel from the Middle Ages, two Cathedrals, a Catholic and an Orthodox. In Fira you can go to the church of Ag Mina, which is the church that most postcards of Santorini portray . If you come to Fira in September, there is a renowned classical music festival every year. 

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