The Volcano "the sleeping giant" of Santorini
“The sleeping giant”, asleep for the time being, but not dead.
It is believed that when the volcano erupted in the 14th century BC it caused a tidal wave that destroyed the cities of Minoan Crete.
Definitely worth a visit if you happen to be in Santorini.
It is an active volcano that erupted in 1956 and in the coming years it may do so again.
Nea Kamini in the centre of the bay, emerged in 1707 is a proof of the life that still exists within this giant hole filled with water.
Both islets can be reached by excursion boats.Related to:
- Sailing and Boating
A tiny village far below Oia and on the waterfront is comprised of a few traditional houses, a church, a pebbly beach, and most famously for a string of seafood restaurants facing the water and sunset (image 1). The glowing red cliffs of the caldera at sunset have led some to call Ammoudi the prettiest village on Santorini. In centuries past, it was the port for Oia with extensive shipping over the Mediterranean despite being below down a steep switchback stairway of approximately 250 steps. Only in 1991 was a sealed roadway built through a small mining area.
Several famed restaurants line the water, tables on the edge. At sunset time, packed with foreigners paying high prices for the privilege. Tour boats visiting the smaller islands around the caldera also leave from this port along with multiple fishing boats.
All things taken equal, Ammoudi is far from a first rate attraction.
On an island with up to 6000 cruise ship visitors a day and hotels on every corner, availability of shopping is only to be anticipated. The main streets overlooking the caldera are lined with stores, interspersed with restaurants, offering everything from designer clothing, leather goods, and expensive jewelry down to handicrafts and souvenirs including ceramics. Oia has a number of art galleries. As in several other European towns we have visited, womens clothing was often more unique and stylish in some of the less expensive stores. And relatively cheap shoes could be found throughout. My beloved P acquired several examples of each at very reasonable cost.
Images 1,2 - souvenirs and handicrafts in a cute store near the sunset viewing promenade.
Image 4 - at the Poniros boutique in Fira, the products from an Athenian design firm are included with many of the world class brands.
The Santorini caldera is a great natural wonder created by a massive volcanic eruption approximately 1650BC with the term first used by a German geologist Leopold von Buch in 1815 after a visit to the Canary Islands. A cauldron like depression is created by collapse of land over an empty space called a magma chamber created by the volcanic expulsion of magma and ash. If the earth above is unable to support its own weight, it collapses Here the sea rushed in and filled the space encircled by santorini and several smaller islands.
The current caldora is about 12 x 7 km and 350 m deep, allowing passage by all but the largest cruise ships ( image 1 ). The steep cliffs are up to 350 m high and seen in cross-section are multilayered denoting multiple prior eruptions ( which are said to occur every 20000 years or so ) ( image 2 ). Cities perched at the top tumble down the sides filled with hotels and restaurants offering the most spectacular panoramic views and highest costs ( Fira in image 3 ). The last eruption has been linked to the legend of the lost city of Atlantis and the resultant tidal wave may have ended the period of Minoan domination of Crete as well, 120 miles to the south.
Churches and Iconic Views
Every cruise ship brochure features an image of the blue domed churches of Santorini set against the blue waters of the caldera with a cruise ship right off the coast, often on the front cover. These churches are one of the most recognized touristic pictures worldwide. Of course the picture is faux - the cruise ships don't come near this end of the caldera, just photoshopped. As for the picture, surely 99.9% of visitors never get their own version.
Set halfway down the incline in Oia, there are no signs or major walkways to the preferred vantage point. The tours certainly don't get here.
How to get the iconic picture - next to the Melenio Cafe on the main road in Oia, turn down the hill on a narrow unmarked alley and find the shot you want with nobody there but you.
Santorini has upwards of 250 churches and chapels, many built by seafaring families in thanks or to pray for survival in unfriendly weather on the sea. The homogeneity of exteriors is noteworthy. Very few churches are painted in the palest of pastels. The simplest explanation is use of the colors of the Greek flag. Multiple historic reasons are given - - - -
during Ottoman rule, use of colors from the flag was forbidden.
during military rule in the 1960's, use of white for churches was required.
whitewash reflects the heat of the sun in summer. blue is used for the domes because the whiteis blinding in the sun, so a hint of blue imperceptible to the naked eye was added years ago to tone down the reflected sunlight and the domes were made blue to match.
local munincipal regulations.
There has been recent movement in Santorini to relax the rigid adherence to blue and white for the churches.
Akrotiri Notos Tours
There are quite a number of options for tours of the island and we found ours a great way to see a lot of the island. We had not booked one, but asked our hotel owner if he could recommend one. He got on the phone and arranged this one for us. It was €106 for the two of us. We enjoyed it very much and had a good guide who was very knowledgeable and cordial. As the group was both French and English speakers, she did her commentary in both. If you do this or another tour, check to see what languages are available. The tour took us to Akrotiri and made a stop at the black beach long enough for a stroll on the beach, lunch at a very pleasant restaurant and a gelato after lunch. We also stopped and walked through one interesting village, stopped for a wine tasting and were let off at Oia in time to see the sunset there. The bus was even waiting for us after we had dinner in Oia at 10:30 p.m. The driver was kind enough to drop us at our hotel rather than at the starting point of the tour. The cost was €53 per person.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
Greek Night Tavern Dimitris
Taverna Dimitris organizes the most authentic and traditional Greek nights in Santorini Island. Local musicians and dancers will entertain you and teach you how to swing Santorini style.\
Live Greek music with profetional greek dancers wearing Santorini traditional costumes.
fire dancing, plate smashing, fireworks, guest can learn and dance typical Greek songs.Related to:
Views from the cliff
Known more for its volcanic islands, this is a circular shaped archipelago in the Aegean Sea. Although, Santorini can be considered to be the result of volcanic eruptions, it still remains a major tourist destination in Greece. What one can expect to see out here is the beautiful lagoon located between three cliffs. The town of Santorini is located high up on the cliffs that offers a panoramic view of the coastline. The towns of Kamari and Perissa are notable for their black sandy beaches. Those who love quiet, serene places can visit Akrotiri. Basically, you can look forward to a wonderful time at Santorini.Related to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Historical Travel
Heres what we did:
-Walk Firostefani to Oia - one of the most stunning walks in the world. It took 2.5 hours and was damn hot and in places abit loose gravel underfoot so be prepared with water and not flip flops like we had. The walk takes in villages and past hotels/restaurants and waste land but views the cauldera from different angles and ends in Oia a lovely village (ensure to get the bus back!)
-Sunset-goes without saying and youre spoilt for choice for restaurants to over charge you!but the sunset is amazing, and if youre staying at the suite at Reverie apartments, enjoy it from teh terrace with champers and wine, great fun!
-Hire a moped and cruise - 30 euros a day (through Reverie) - if you head east and take the back road to Oia, its very quiet, less traffic and great biking roads and great scenery as it hugs the coast. The beach behind the airport is quiet and nice to just cruise along there, althogh not a great beach, nice to just watch the bigger waves come in.
-Beaches-not that great on Santorini but most are busy. Red beach was mentally busy and didnt look that great, quite dramatic but not jaw dropping as the brochures and books make you believe. Kameli is black sand and the main tourist beach. The one behind the airport isnt very nice but has big waves and no one on it, nice to just chill out and stare at the ocean. The best once we tried was Vlyhaha, just 10min from Red beach, it was quieter and long so you can escape the busier end near the cafe. The sea isnt as clear as other islands as the waves are bigger and its a bit stony as you get into the water, but pleasant enough.
-Pyrgos-old village high up with great views and a relaxed feel, get there bfore the tourist buses do. Its got windy streets to get lost in and some great churches.
-Beyond Pyrgos is the highest point of the island up round the windy bends for stunning 360 views
-Fira-the bustling centre in tourist season, very busy, some great restaurants (and prices - 15 euros for a salad starter) and bars and tourist shops.
Why Not Get Married ?
Gillians (my niece) marriage to Michael , took me on my trip to Santorini, I now understand that Santorini is fast becoming THE no 1 place for people to get married.
That may be because of it's beautiful picturess settings, as well as Santorinis magnificent sunset and wonderful views across the Caldera, which is a sight not to be missed.
I know the wedding I attended was a wonderful, happy event, my niece had been planning it for quite some time, along with her Santorini wedding planner.
It was a perfect day, and so well put together, it was a beautiful hot day. The venue was the "Selene" hotel and restaurant in Fira. Two Greek musicians played their version of ,"Here comes the Bride" as she walked in through the Archway of the Restaurant and down the steps.
After the ceremony, we had a "cocktail hour", which I thought was very civilized ! While the bride and groom went off to have their photos taken at various parts of the Island. We then sat down to a very nice very Greek meal, of salad, giros, Cake, fruit and cheese, Greek dancers entertained us, and a disco was to follow................... The couple looked blissfully happy and relaxed.
It was a day to treasure for a very, long, long time.Related to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Many tour operators "do" the sunset cruise, wrapped up in many different packages.
The one I went on, was, a special charter cruise for a wedding party.
The ship was a beautiful sail boat called "Bella Aurora" which is a replica of the schooners used in the 8th and 9th century. It looked like it was straight out off the set of "Pirates of the Caribbean".
First we sailed out to the Hot Springs for a swim in the warm water and mud, these springs are heated from the heat of the Volcano, some people dived off the boat, but I chose to climb down the steps into the cold salty sea.
Then, we swam out towards the shore, to find the hot springs.
Not being a very strong swimmer, I did struggle a little, so make sure you can manage to get to the Springs and then back again to the boat.
We then sailed to the small bay of Nea Kameni, there we weighed anchor and had a small buffet including, Santorini wine and Greek hors d'oeuvres, such as, stuff vine leaves, tomatoes balls, bread and cheese.
The sails then went up on the boat, what a beautiful sight it was seeing the sails go up, and sail into the wonderful sunset.........................what a wonderful sight that was.Related to:
- Sailing and Boating
A Busy Little Place
Kamari, was first destroyed by an earthquake in 1956, then it was then rebuilt as a tourist resort, to try and get the local people to return to the village once again, after the devastation of the quake, to rebuild their lives and gain an income.
It is very close to the airport . It's official name is " Episkopi Goma ".
It has a 2k long beach, which has black sand and shale.
There you will find sunbeds, umbrellas, various types water sports (jet skis, surfing ),showers, and children's play areas.
The road along the front of the beach, has an abundance of restaurants, shops, bars, cafes and hotels, but, strangely enough nowhere to sit unless it's a cafe, bar or restaurant !!!!!
I found it very busy and spend most of my time dodging the bikes and cars that came down the narrow road. The pavements had high curbs and at times the pavement disappeared.
While Kamari is flat, it is still difficult for anyone with a mobility problem, or, in a wheelchair to negotiate their way across the pavements, without difficulty.
There is a long and winding road that takes you up to Ancient Thira, this is not for the faint hearted.Related to:
- Family Travel
Maritime Museum of Thira in Oia
This nice, but, small museum. can be found in an old restored mansion house.
It charts the history of the sea, and, the seafarers of the Aegean sea, with photos, model ships and sea charts.
There are a few old ship related relics inside the museum.
You will also find it written in English, as well as Greek.
This is a place to visit only if you have an interest in this part of their history.
There is a small entry charge.Related to:
- Museum Visits
Oia, Santorini: A sunset par excellence
Oia is the town at the other end of Santorini, the western tip where the sun goes down into the blue Aegean Sea.
There are buses which ply between Fira, the town and capital of Santorini , to Oia and takes about 25 minutes to go to the other end of the Island. The fare as of Aug 2010 was 1.20 Euros.
A small walk from the Bus Terminus , through narrow lanes dotted with hundreds of shops selling every possible Greek Souvenier and with small eateries and pubs in between, all colourful and decked up..lands you to the area with the vast expanse in front of you.
And here thousands of tourists from all corners of the world await a sunset par excellence.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Well, all your iconic Santorini sights are here. You must go to the top of the caldera, where the white houses are terraced high above the blue Aegean, and the small islands in the background give the unique photo opportunities.
Not that Fira itself is worth lingering in for too long - busy, pricey (see Tourist trap tip), but beautiful - see pictures on this tip.
We liked Imeroviglia the best. It's quiet and stunningly beautiful. Careful in the bars and restaurants - at least 50% more expensive than in other villages.
I was surprised by how many (no doubt expensive) ideal looking apartments - own pool and terrace - were grossly overlooked by all and sundry because of the steep terracing of the village. Or you walk within touching distance of an "exclusive" pool.Related to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
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My husband and I finished off our honeymoon at the Astra Apartments, an all-suite hotel. The website...more
Imerovigli 84700, Greece
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