This Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Fira, which is situated on the cliff top at the bottom of the town, is a prominent land mark.
The art work inside is rather spectacular.
It was rebuilt after the 1956 earthquake.
Well worth a visit
This is a bustling and facinating place. Many people go through here when they take a day trip to the volcano or other places that go by boat, but if you are not doing that, come down here and have a look. There are the usual souviner shops, cafe's a church (tiny) and the rest.
You can get up and down by 1 of 3 ways, walk (not recomended,) cable car, or donkey.
On the cliff top of Fira there are numerous alley's/lanes housing small shops, boutiques, cafe's that are fun to wander around and view/shop/eat and drink. This is where I found some of the best restaurants tucked away.
The sunsets in Santorini are legendary and justly famous. Though Fira is not the best place to see these, you do get a good view.
There are so many restaurant;s/cafe's/bars on the cliff top to choose from, that is half the fun
There are many museums in Fira to visit, Prehistoric, Archaeological, Folklore and Cultural.
I visited the Prehistoric museum which comprises of a single large square room. It is a modern small but beautiful museum made for the remains found in the excavations at Akrotiri, such as weapons,vases, wall paintings, furniture, household equipment, etc, it also holds the impressive Golden Ibex figurine - a beautiful gold model of an ibex discovered in 1999. Well worth the visit just for that!!
Open daily (except Mondays) from 08.30 am to 15.00 pm
Admission Fee 3 euros
There are stunning views from all over the place on this beautiful island with its caldera, colourful volcanic rock and homes and white villages above them, all surrounded by beautiful waters.
Oia is popular for its sunset views - but it is also has fantastic views from here back to Fira and further down the caldera and island of Santorini.
This museum is just a few minutes uphill slightly from the Archeological Museum and is housed in an old mansion owned by the Catholic diocese of Santorini which has been restored as a cultural centre.
In here I found an excellent collection of old prints and maps but particularly interesting are photographs of the town before and after the 1956 earthquake. And newspaper cuttings from around the world relaying the drastic news.
Entrance was 3 euro. Excellent copies of the prints of women in their various costumes from previous centuries can be purchased as well as an interesting array of books on the area.
This excellent museum has items from important archeological finds around the island.
Free entrance the day I was there as it was a Sunday - the usual 3 euro entrance fee also includes apparently the Museum of Prehistoric Thira which is at the other end of town between the cathedral and the bus station. A recommended museum as it has remarkable finds from the Akrotiri site of Minoan Thira.
There is a section making up about one third of the collection that cant be photographed apparently as they are private items whereas photography is permitted in the remainder area.
The Orthodox Cathedral in Fira was originally built in 1827 and, as result of an earthquake, was rebuilt in 1956. The Cathedral is located in the centre of Fira, with a large square outside. The cathedral has beautiful frescoes inside which were painted by a local artist, Christoforos Assimis.
This cathedral sits prominently and can be seen from quite a distance but up close, it can be quite difficult to find the entrance as rolling arches create a courtyard through which you can see an impressive belltower but not quite how to get to the entrance. Walk along the arches and you find the entrance set in the middle.
I visited on a Sunday afternoon and there was a wedding due that same day so the florist was busy setting up the flowers for the wedding.
PATRONS TAKE NOTE : A lady was in attendance at the cathedral when I visited and shortly after people left, she was snuffing out any candles they had been lit and putting them into the bins. I'm not sure if this was because there was a wedding due but I felt that if people had said prayers and lit candles, they should be left to burn.
I'm obligated to talk now about the 'sunset at Oia',as it is world known.Personally I prefer the sunset at firostefani (some say it is the word's most beautiful, but, OK they probably exaggerate). Oia is a village that hosts artists such as poets, painters,
sculpturers who have given it its unique personality. I let the photos speak for me.
But seeing is believing. Take a look at this web camera:
It doesn't matter whether you do just a little bit of research or a lot when you are planning your visit to Fira, one of the things you will definitely hear about is the sunsets over the caldera basin. So long as you have a good day (and there's plenty of them during the course of the year), you will experience the beautiful views across the caldera basin.
Every guide book and everyone you talk to says you must see the sunset in Oia when you are on Santorini. I agree there are dramatic sunsets in Oia. However the sunsets in Fira are also very beautiful and dramatic. Mark and I dined at the restaurant Lithos, which was recommended by Fanes, our host at our hotel. We decided to do a sunset dinner as the deck at the restaurant had a magnificant view. As you can tell by the pictures loaded here we were not disappointed. I can not think of a better way to have dinner than while watching this beautiful sunset.
The tiny white buidings on top of this cliff mark the village of Firostefani. I walked to his village from Fira. It was a long a steep walk but the views were worth the effort. There are great views of the caldera. You can see the walls that were carved from the volcanic eruptions centuries ago as you walk and you are made aware once more that you are trespassing on an active volcano. I was very aware of this while I walked the streets and viewed the cliffs. It all made the visit to Santorini even more exotic to me.
My guide book stated that the name Firostefani was originally Firon Stefani meaning Crown of Fira. I think the name describes it very well.
The Orthodox Cathedral is also called the church of Ypapantis or Panagia to Belonia. The original church on this site was built by M. Belonia in 1827, but was completely destroyed by the last major earthquake and was replaced by the current Cathedral. While in Santorini we took a few moments to view the inside of the Cathedral and returned on Sunday for a few moments to watch a small part of the mass being conducted.
There is a large square in front of the church that served as the meeting point for all of the Vters attending the VT meeing in June 2007. It is an easily accessed central location. If you plan to meet someone in Santorini its a good focal point.
Watch for the cruise boats. When they start pulling into the harbor thats your notice to find a quiet place and retreat. The streets will soon be filled with tourists from the cruise boats. The interlopers who take over your vacation spot for a few hours and then retreat back to the boats. This is a great time to go to your room, sit on your deck, get some some, relax, and just take in the view once more. But by all means avoid the shopping area and tourists spots while the boats are in the harbor.