Santorini Greece Boat Charter
THE ISLANDS OF SANTORINI
Santorini Greece Sailing Vacations. Many tourists from all over the world come to visit the island each year. Discovering Santorini - the Diamond of the Aegean Sea onboard of a sailing yacht is a very smart idea. Such a holiday may satisfy the curiosity of those who love ancient cultures and at the same time become a romantic getaway for boat charter amateurs. The Santorini group of volcanic islands possesses characteristics that are enough to satisfy the most demanding visitor. Geological formations (caldera, volcanoes), antiquities (the settlement of Akrotiri dating back to prehistoric times and ancient Thira dating back to the classical period), Byzantine monuments (the Basilica of Agia Irini in Perissa, the Church of Panagia Episkopi in Mesa Gonia), medieval buildings (Kastella and Goulades), post Byzantine buildings (monasteries, churches). Also, endless pitch-black or deep red beaches, multi-coloured cliff-like rocks, pathways, old thermal springs, the town and villages with their characteristic ecclesiastical and folk architecture attract yacht charter tourists to spend their sailing holidays in that part of Greece. Luxurious or traditional hotels and restaurants, coffee shops and bars with unique views, seaside lodgings, first class Greek yachts and entertainement. These very special characteristics have made Santorini known not only as the number one tourist destination in Europe in 2006 and the second in the world, but also as the most romantic of the Greek Islands. We invite you to visit this unique island onboard of our luxury boats available for Yacht Charter in Greece, to know its beauties and to enjoy wonderful experiences like many thousands of visitors have already done!!!
SANTORINI GREECE GEOGRAPHY
Santorini group of islands is formed by Thera, Thirasia, Aspronisi, Palea and Nea Kameni (volcanoes) islands. Yacht charter guests would know that it is located in the most southern part of the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea of Greece, 63 nautical miles north of Crete. The surface area of Thera is 73 sq. km and its population, distributed among thirteen villages, is 13.600 people, according to 2001 census. Contact Absolute Yachting for booking a fully crewed yacht charter in Greece!
HISTORY of GREECE - SANTORINI
The human presence on the island seems have existed since the middle of the 3d millennium B.C. The excavation at Akrotiri has confirmed that man s activity on the island continues until the eruption of the volcano in around 1500 B.C. which entirely buried the island beneath very thick layers of pozzuolona. All traces of human activity vanished from the island until the end of the 13th century B.C. Discover the ancient culture of Santorini and experience yacht charters in Greece with Absolute Yachting!
According to Herodotus, the island was initially called Strongyle (the Round One). Later, because of its beauty, it was called Kalliste (the Fairest One). The Phoenicians came to Kalliste and there they settled. After the Phoenicians, the Lacedaemonians arrived and gave the island the name of their leader, Theras. In the 9th century B.C. Thera, became an important point on the communication route between the East and the West of that era and adopted the Phoenician alphabet for writing the Greek language. In about 630 B.C. Therans reached the north coast of the African continent where they founded Cyrene, the only Theran colony. During the Classical period of Greece (5th and 4th century B.C.) Thera did not play an important role in Hellenic events. During the Peloponesian War Thera sided Sparta, as expected. In Hellenistic times the island s strategic position made Thera a precious base from which the warring campaigns of the successors of Alexander the Great were launched in the Aegean. If you like history and enjoy sailing in the Greek Islands, Santorini is the perfect place for your summer vacations!
Within the Roman Empire, Thera was nothing more than an insignificant small island. However Christianity reached the island early and an organized church already existed there by the 4th century A.C. The island was of neither political nor military significance in Byzantine times although Alexius I Comnenus (1081 -1118) founded the church of Panagia Episkopi at Gonia. After the fall of Constantinople to the Crusaders of the Fourth Crusade (1204) the Duchy of Naxos was founded and Thera became the seat of one of the four Catholic Bishops of the Duchy. The name Santorini was given to the island at that time by the Crusaders after the church of Agia Irini (Santa Irene) which some say was at Perissa and others say was at Riva on Thirasia. Santorini yacht charter will reveal to you many secrets of the ancient island.
In the years of Frankish rule (1207-1579) although Santorini experienced the development of cotton cultivation and viticulture, the island suffered as much from piratical raids as from the rivalries between the local Latin rulers or between the Duke and the Sultan. Today Santorini has reached prosperity thanks to its beauty, climate and location that have been attracting thousands of sailing boat charter tourists and people who simply like seaside vacations in Greece. But the history tells us that it has not always been this way.
The Turkish dominion (1579-1821) resulted in the abolition of piracy and the development of international trade. The Santorinians created close contacts with the great harbours of the Eastern Mediterranean (Alexandria, Constantinople, Odessa) where they founded important communities.
In 1821 , Santorini with its shipping strength, took part in the fight for independence from the Turks, and in 1830 became part of the independent Greek state. Up until the beginning of the 20th century shipping, textiles, tomato production and viticulture were all flourishing. The change from sail to steam-driven ships and also the transportation of the island s factories to mainland Greece had a great effect on the island s economy. The 1956 earthquake led to a huge decrease in the population of the island and to an economic catastrophe. Only towards the end of the 70 s of the last century tourism began to develop, bringing economic relief to the island. That was when yacht rentals for luxury sailing holidays started becoming popular among the rich and famous. A few years later yacht charter tourism had got a wider spread as well. Nowadays Santorini is one of the most popular places that sailing tourists visit during their Greece boat charter vacations.
SANTORINI A WINDOW FOR VOLCANOLOGY
The Santorini group of islands is unique as it is probably the only volcano in the world with its caldera in the sea. All of Santorini s islands were formed largely due to the volcanic activity and constitute a compound volcano. Twelve huge explosions occurred one every 20.000 years app. During the last period of volcanism. Each violent explosion caused the collapse of the volcano s central part and the creation of a large crater ( caldera). The volcano however managed to recreate itself over and over again.
The last large explosion occurred 3,600 years ago ( during the Minoan Age) when the igneous material ( mainly ash, pumice and lava stones) covered the three islands ( Thera, Thirasia and Aspronisi) together with a thriving prehistoric civilization, evidence of which was found during the excavations of Akrotiri in Thera. The huge amount of new matter did not only create stretches of flat fertile land, but it is also responsible for the formation of the well-known external beaches. The solid material and gases emerging from the volcano s interior created a big vacuum underneath. This caused the collapse of the central part and the creation of an enormous pot the today s Caldera with a size of 8x4 km and a depth of up to 400 m below the sea level.
Following this explosion, the volcanic activity continued through time with slower pace, building two islets the Caldera the Palea ( old) and Nea ( new) Kameni. The latter is the newest land in the Mediterranean as it was formed by lava between 434 and 57 years ago. The round craters, hot fumaroles, new minerals, and gushing warm multi-coloured water, impress visitors. The collapse of the central part of the volcano created the Caldera s slopes and cliffs, gremna as local called them, and it is possible for visitors to take a tour by sea within the internal part the offspring of the active volcano. In this way one may come close to the volcano and get a very realistic picture of its slopes, which stretch in a total length of 25 km and reach a height of 100-300 m above the sea level, acquiring a better understanding of its development and the way in which the volcano acted. The variety of rocks, the alternation of their colours , the way in which they relate to each other and the details of the volcanic shaping are all extremely impressive. The natural light that falls on the slopes is different each moment of the day and offers unique views throughout the year.
The view from the sea is made complete thanks to various routes in land, close to the caldera rim . In addition, some of the natural cross-sections and the old quarries on the two larger islands ( Thira and Thirasia ) offer the opportunity for observation, consolidation and finally the delight of experiencing a wide range of geological structures and forms. Finally, the panoramic view from various points at the top of the caldera helps the imagination to comprehend the phenomena and simplify the historic evolution of the volcanic events on the two Kameni islands.
It is clear that a huge natural geological-volcanological museum has been created in Santorini, ideal for observing the structural formation and development of a classic volcano, easy to explore and providing an alluring invitation into the world of volcanology. It offers for free a colored, three dimensional open window which is accessible not only to specialists but to all visitors of the island.
TRADITION IS ALIVE IN SANTORINI
Visitors of Santorini discover, with pleasant surprise , that even today tradition is preserved in Santorini at its small village communities.
Religious festivals called ayiomnisia , wedding celebrations with traditional customs and local musical instruments that accompany the procedures of a wedding ceremony, local food such as split peas and tomato balls, desserts like melitinia ( easter sweets) and koufeto (wedding sweet) , animals that still help both with agricultural work i.e. ploughing and threshing and transportation, houses decorated with old furniture, utensils, old handmade embroidery, old paintings and photographs, canava wineries where grapes are crushed and wine is produced by the viticulturists themselves these are just some of the aspects of tradition that is so alive in Santorini. Visitors should aim at knowing and experiencing these and other customs of a tradition that is very much alive, in order to get a complete picture of this peculiar volcanic place and its inhabitants.
Fira is the capital of the island, built on the edge of the Caldera between sea and sky. The western part of Fira, facing the Caldera, still maintains its unique colour and beauty despite a great deal of tourist exploitation and a number of clubs, bars and shops. This part of the town is paved and you can walk around it through the narrow cobbled streets. The best time for a peaceful wander around Fira is in the afternoon, when the hustle and bustle has died down. Then you can enjoy every single pretty corner of the village, from Kato Fira where the church of Saint Minas is, to the Orthodox Metropolis of Ipapanti, the Museum of Prehistoric Thera and the Belloneio Cultural Centre, or , from northern Fira, where the catholic neighborhood and the Metropolis of St. John the Baptist are located, up to Megaron Gyzi. The main cobbled street in northern Fira unwinds along the edge of the Caldera, passing through Firostefani and Imerovigli, and ends up at the northern end of the island, in Oia. The cable car departs from northern Fira as well, to transport you to the bay of Fira ( the old harbour) , where you can take a boat tour to the volcano and Thirasia. For your return from the bay to the city centre of Fira, you have three means of transport to choose from: the cable car or a donkey ride or an ascent by foot up the snake-like steps, for the most venturous of you.
In Fira, you will find banks, post office, police dpt, health care centre, pharmacies, night clubs, super markets, patisseries, shops as well as hotels, rooms to rent, pensions, taverns, snack bars and restaurants that suit all tastes and budgets. Make sure you stop off at the Belloneio Cultural Centre, where painting and photography exhibitions as well as interesting lectures and conferences are often held. Megaro Gyzi is also a cultural centre with a long history, housing extremely interesting exhibitions and music concerts throughout the summer and sometimes beyond.
As you go north the main road, you will find Firostefani only 1,5 km away from Fira. The view is equally magnificent as it is in Fira but with a quieter atmosphere. It is the perfect choice for those who want to be alone to the lively and cosmopolitan life of the capital, but no in it. Firostefani is only a ten minutes walk distance from Fira. However, there are also places where you can eat or have a drink, most of which have view to Caldera. Walking up the way that passes in front of the cable car you will see a neoclassic building with vivid red coulour. It is Petros M. Nomikos Conference Centre, which hosts the majority of the international scientific conferences that take place in Santorini as well as many cultural events. There you will also find an exhibition with life-size reproductions of wall paintings found in Akrotiri s ancient settlement. You will be surprised by the Center and the view will be an unforgettable memory for you, so we suggest visiting the Centre late in the afternoon to see another sunset from the top of Firostefani
Imerovigli or the so called balcony of Santorini is the next stop in Caldera s eyebrow after Firostefani and before Oia. The largest part of Imerovigli had been destroyed by the earthquake of 1956 and its residents either built houses outside the Caldera or moved in Athens. Imerovigli is 3 km away from Fira and its intense tourism development began in early nineties when it started to be the ideal place for couples of all ages. There are numerous lodgings with traditional architecture and view to the endless blue as well as swimming pools in the edge of the cliff. Imerovigli does not offer night life and there are only few places that you can eat and go shopping but you don t have to worry about it. Fira is only five minutes away by car. The magnificent view combined with the tranquility that Imerovigli has managed to keep, creates an absolute romantic atmosphere. It is worth visiting the church of Panagia Maltese with the old wooden temple and the monastery of Agios Nikolaos. As the sun sets, the neighboring islands of Ios, Sikinos and Folegandros are being revealed, making Imerovigli s sunset as captivating as the one in Oia.
As you pass through Fira s lower road towards the North, you will come to Kontochori where you can visit the Folklore Museum of Emmanuel Lignos and experience the Santorini of yesterday coming to life. Enjoy a wander around the Museum s impressive interior admiring the owner s hobbyhorse . The second floor houses paintings and various exhibits having as focal point the island of Santorini.
There is an outdoor summer cinema nearby. Walk around the narrow streets and admire the popular architecture and the churches such as Panagia of Langadi. There are lots of fig trees, prickly pears and pistachio trees in the area- you will miss out if you don t try their fruits, especially the prickly pears but be aware of the prickly thorns! The area also offers lots of rooms for rent and a few hotels and it is a preferred spot amongst tourists as it is peaceful, has a lovely view of the eastern side of the island and the main square of Fira is no more than then minutes walk away.
The village of Vourvoulos is located app. 4 km away from Fira on the road towards the island s northern beaches. The residents are occupied with the cultivation of the land as well as with other activities as there are now only few who have remained true farmers.
The lower road of Fira direction to the South leads after 2 km to Karterados. This is a settlement built by a stream, having in the middle its main square with a traditional old mill and a monument in the memorial of those who died during the 2ds World War. Leave your car here and prepare yourselves for a short tour of the traditional village starting at the steps of Galaios as the locals call them, found on your left as the road bends. You will be surprised by what there is to see Traditional old buildings mined inside the volcanic rock, captain houses and pretty cobbled streets that you can hardly make out from the main road as they have been constructed along the streambed. There aren t many sights to see, but it s worth visiting the church of the Assumption and joining in its festival, which takes place forty days after Easter. If you are on the island on the 15th of August , join the festival of the church Panagia Kokkini (Saint Mary of the Red) which was given this name as it was built with red wine instead of water. The area offers bakeries, coffee shops, tavernas, hotels, rooms for rent, supermarkets and shops, many of which are open year round.
Messaria is located at cross point of Santorini and in short distance ( about 4 km) from Fira, Athinios, the northern beaches and the north-eastern part of the island. The new part of the village is quite lively with many shops, whilst a walk through the traditional settlement will take you back in time to a period when Messaria was the centre of the island s industrial development. There you will see the remains of the impressive facilities of the Markezinis knitting factory as well as the Saliveros and Markezinis mansions, dome-shaped houses built into the volcanic rock, picturesque cobbled streets, many churches and the restored Argyros mansion, which is evidence of the glory of its time. The most interesting churches are those of Agios Dimitrios and Agia Irini, with their celebration fairs on the 26th of October and 5th of May respectively. Messaria is lively and its shops stay open all year long as the number of permanent residents exceeds 700.
The cosmopolitan Kamari is 10 km away from Fira and it is a constantly developing beach resort that concentrates the preferences all of those who want a vacation gateway near the sea and not from the Caldera s side. There is always life as it accommodates the majority of the charter passengers that are inundating the island from May to September. We have to mention that Kamari is of great historical importance, as in Mesa Vouno, ruins of the ancient Thera were discovered, a city that was the only urban centre of the island until the expansion of Christianity.
Kamari s beach is well organized and it stretches in many kms. It has blue flag, smooth black sand , children playground, sea sports, diving and a lifeguard. Near the rock you will see the arch, once the Customs, where the most adventurous will try to dive. Not far away, you will see ascetics residences, natural caves inside the rock or small buildings that ascetics used for their retirement from the late of 17th century.
Hotels, travel agencies, cafes, beach bars, buzzing night life and numerous choices for food all these make Kamari s image. The nights, when the red full moon is rising from the dark waters, are ideal for a night walk in the coastal pedestrian zone. Enjoy the spectacle making a stop to get something to eat or to have a drink but if you want something different, the summer cinema will offer you an alternative way to entertain yourselves and of course a beautiful atmosphere.
But if you prefer to go shopping, a walk in the shopping stores will persuade you that you are not going to miss anything. In the central square you will see Panagia Mirtidiotissa with its celebration fair on the 24th of September. There, during the summer, the local Municipality organizes interesting musical and cultural events and people come from all over the island, so make sure to have your eyes open. Next to the bus station there is a bank and a cash dispenser. Kamari is habituated all year round as the permanent residents are more than 1400 people and in the shopping mall a cinema runs during the winter. In the main road to Kamari it is worth making a stop to the winery of Koutsogionnapoulos where you can also find the wine museum.
Exo Gonia- Mesa Gonia
Exo Gonia is a small, peaceful and traditional village lacking tourism infrastructure, built in the rear of Pyrgos and it is 12 km away from Fira. You should visit it and walk throught its cobbled streets. Admire the neoclassic mansions and more than ten abandoned wineries that were full of life before the earthquake.
Most of the permanent residents are farmers. There are few shopping stores in the region in the main road to Kamari , two to three taverns, few lodgings and two hotels in Avis beach that took its name from the old tomato factory A.V.I.S which had recently been demolished. In the central road you will find signs of the riding horse club for an unforgettable experience.
Go to Mesa Gonia 7,5 km from Fira once a great centre of wine production. Follow the signs from the main road to Kamari and turn right. Your first stop is in one of the oldest wineries of the island, Mr. Giannis Roussos winery which operates since 1836. Taste the famous local labels in its traditional beautiful yard under the great shadow of the trees. Not far from Roussos winery , you will find another old winery ( since 1903) which belongs to Mr. Giannis Argiros. Make a tour to the wineries, seize the opportunity and discuss with the wine producer and don t foeget to taste their famous VINSANTO.
Leave your car for a while and walk through the traditional settlement of Mesa Gonia. The deeper you walk, the more controversial the landscape it becomes among scenes of desolation and civilization. Beautiful picturesque churches and few traditional houses are among the ruins that earthquake left behind and cobbled streets full of flowers that give life with their exhilarating fragrance to the ghosts of the past. Let the landscape travel you in times where the island was untouchable from tourist intervention.
The view to the village, the Mesa Vouno and the coast line becomes more beautiful as you go further up, especially during nightfall. Go back to your car and follow the road to the church of Episkopi in Gonia which is quite close to the village. The church was built in the late 11th century by Emperor Alexios A Komninos and is an important Byzantine monument of the island. In its special priedieu, you will see the icon of Panagia Glikofiloussa, one of the three most priceless portable Byzantine icons in the world. Episkopi is one of the few churches with tiles and it offers a magnificent view of the eastern side of the island. The combination of the landscape, the tranquility and the scattered smell of basil in the entire place will definitely bring you peace of mind.
Pyrgos village is situated in the island of Santorini 7.5 km away from Fira built on the top of the hill and has a discreet but dynamic presence on the tourist map. Rumor has it, Pyrgos vineyard to be the most qualitative, so make a stop in Santo Wines winery to taste the local wines and to enjoy the magnificent view to the volcano and the rest of the island. Continue to the village s square and leave your car in the special parking space to stroll through the picturesque cobbled streets of the settlement that was declared preservable monument in 1995.
The ascension may seem a bit tiring to you but the endless view to Fira, Oia and Messaria s valley will bow in your feet and will offer you another unique sunset, if you be there on the proper time. Pyrgos has kept its natural beauty without any alternations. The stroll through its cobbled streets will reveal you some interesting marks of local architecture and remains of neoclassical mansions.
It is a typical fortress settlement of the Cyclades, a relic of Venetians times and on its top stands the castle ( Kasteli) that ruined from an earthquake almost a half century ago. Until then, app. 70 families were staying inside its walls. You should visit the Icons and Relics Collection that houses hagiographies, wooden sculptures, embroideries and other items for ecclesiastic use dated mostly of the 17th and 18th century. In the village you will find more than 40 churches among them the well known Theotokaki of Koimiseos built in the 10th century and Panagia Eisodia or Panagia of Kasteli which is the biggest of all. It was built in the early 16th century and has a magnificent wooden temple but it is open for public only in holiday periods.
You will find Megalochori going to the beaches of Perissa, Perivolos, Vlychada and the Red Beach in the south of the island, nine km away from Fira. It is a very beautiful village that still remains pure from tourist activities. Leave your car and walk through it. Admire the cobbled streets, the full of flowers yards, the tidy houses and above all the fine campaniles of the churches that gently pop up in the landscape.
The settlement is built in the shore of a stream and in front of it stretches the valley with the vineyards. It has almost 300 permanent residents most of them farmers working in the cultivation of the plenty vineyards, tomato and barleycorn. In the centre of Megalochori stands Gavalas winery while out of the village you will find the wineries of Boutari and Antoniou. For the most adventurous ones, we suggest a visit to the remote beaches of Caldera, Plaka and Thermi that named after the churches Panagia Plaka and Christ in Thermi. There is no access by car and therefore, we recommend you to wear sports shoes, a hat and have water with you. Admire also the sunset from there with the view of Palea Kameni , Nea Kameni and Thirasia islands.
Access to the paths starts from the local pizza restaurant. Megalochori has mini markets, bakeries and good food in the few taverns.
Following the road to Perivolos and Perissa beaches you will find Emporio. It is the largest village of Santorini with app 3000 permanent residents. It is only 12 km away from Fira and for many years it was the trade center of the island from which probably owes its today s name ( emporio is the Greek word for trade).
According to another assertion, Emporio took its name from the German word Neuborg, which means new tower and it is referring to the Goulas castle.
Emporio is a traditional village with characteristic folk architecture. Goulas and Kasteli are two things that still bring in memory the time of Venice domination. Goulas is the square medieval castle in the village entrance and it was Patmos monastery glebe. In its entrance you will see the typical construction with the pots which were filled with hot oil and were spilt over to the enemies. On the top of the castle is Agios Polikarpos. Kasteli is one of the five typical fortress settlements of the after Byzantine period of the island. Its walls are the external walls of the houses. All buildings communicate from their roofs and Palea Panagia or Panagia Mesani stands in the middle. The church is dated from the 16th century with a campanile of unique architecture and with a priceless wooden temple (1883) with scenes from the Old and the New Testament. Few meters away you will see the church of Metamorphosis of Sotiros dated from the early 19th century and a great celebration fair takes place on August 6th.
Perissa s beach is in the southeastern side of the island, 13 km away from Fira. Near the rock it is the Old Christian Basilica type church of Santa Irini, dated from the 6th century. Perissa is one of the most developed and popular beach resorts of the island along with Perivolos and Kamari. The sea waters are deep and clean while the beach has black sand. The closer to the rock you stand the more families you will meet in the sand. It is a lively settlement during the summer months. It gathers a great number of Greek and foreign tourists, who enjoy the comfort of a well-organized beach with sea sports and wide choices for places to stay, eat and have fun.
There is also a beach camping site with natural shadow. The church of Timios Stavros is situated in Perissa s square and it is the largest church of the island with a great celebration on the 14th of September. In the square you will also find the Mineral and Fossils Museum of the Cultural Association of Thera. If you look in the rock you will see Panagia Katefiani, a small church standing there by itself. Its fair is on the 8th of September.
Perivolos Agios Georgios
Perivolos beach is the natural extension of Perissa. There you will find an organized beach of many kilometers with blue flag, black sand or small pebble and cool deep waters. It has the most popular beach bars, restaurants and fish taverns. Beach bars with loud music, team sports ( volleyball) and sea sports till the sunset, create a party atmosphere all day long. Agios Georgios is the next stop after Perivolos but with a quiter atmosphere. There is still a part that it is not covered with sun umbrellas.
Akrotiri s settlement is in the southwestern and most distant side of the island, 15 km away from Fira. Akrotiri became particular famous for its ancient city when the well know archaeologist Spiros Marinatos discovered it buried under the volcano s ashes. His work is being successfully continued by the Professor Christos Doumas.
Unfortunately, the excavation is not open to the public but you will have the opportunity to visit the Museum of Prehistoric Thera in Fira as well as the life-size reproductions of the wall paintings in Petros M. Nomikos Conference Centre. It is the most recently developed and pure from tourist interventions settlement from those having view to Caldera.
Many hotels and lodgings have been built during the last years to serve the needs of tourists whose number is constantly growing and seek for tranquility in the still pure side of Caldera. From Akrotiri you can go by foot to the Red Beach or to take the boat to the White Beach. Mesa Pigadia, Kampia and from the Caldera s side , Apothikes and Gialos, are the other beaches where you can swim. There is also a Venetian castle in Akrotiri that was shattered by the big earthquake and it is worth paying a visit. There may not be enough shopping stores and it doesn t offer night life but you will definitely find good food. There are taverns in Akrotiri s port, in the centre of the village and in the road to Faros (lighthouse) which you definitely should visit. From there you will be able to observe the shape of an Indian, up in Mavro Vouno that looks so natural as if it had been carved by a talented sculptor. According to the testimonies of local residents, this shape had been discovered by Spiros Marinatos as they hadn t seen it until then. Either in the morning or in the afternoon the view from the lighthouse to the endless blue and the rest of the island is magnificent and the sunset seems like a dream. In the region you will also find the church of Agia Theodosia in the castle s entrance, Agios Epifanios, Agia Triada and Ipapanti that was reased after the earthquake.
From up on the hill of Oia s Prophet Elias, you gaze falls upon the dark waters of the caldera, passing over the volcano s petrified lava and then returning high up to the while line of houses that sparkle in the clear light. As you descend towards Perivolos, you will have the feeling that you are floating in amongst the steep volcanic rocks and in the vineyards to the north that spread out in Baxedes next to Tholos, the second farming village of Apano Meria . Foinikia is also home to the winery of Paris Sigalas.
The main marble road decorated with grand captain houses, houses built into the volcanic rock where crew members of ships used to live, the steps that lead down to the little harbors of Ammoudi and Armeni, the many churches dedicated to sailors, the canavas and raki makers are evidence of the history of this well kept village during times when the wooden ships of Apano Meria would cross the Mediterranean carrying the intoxicating sweet Vinsanto wine and return with timber, porcelain and silverware for the mansions of captains.
If you fancy a swim, try out the Baxedes and Katharos beaches, or alternatively go for a dip at Ammoudi. Ammoudi is a little harbor in Oia where they used to load ships with wine for export two centuries ago. You can either get there by car or by walking down 235 steps. We assure you that the walk down is not as bad as it sounds and the food served at the very few fish tavernas will definetelly make up for it. Armeni, the second little harbor4 of Oia, is a little further on and was used for similar purposes as Ammoudi. You can get there by launches (personnel transfer crafts) or by walking down the 291 steps from the Skala restaurant. It is extremely peaceful and pretty and there is only one taverna left. Armenaki is in between Ammoudi and Armeni. This is another little harbor where you can go swimming, but it doesn t have any shops. The pathway that takes you there might be rough, but it is completely untouched.
A magnificent captain s mansion dating back to 19th century, restored to its original form, houses the Naval Museum. You will find many things to admire here including old equipment, water-colors, photography and generally everything to do with Santorini s great nautical pas. A little further on the rhythmical tapping of the loom will guide you to the traditional weaving-mill that produces fine hand woven textiles in a wide variety of designs and colors. You can also find traditional products including fava, capers and honey and books on sale at the weaving mill. Traditional Santorini houses built into the volcanic rock are concentrated around the castle of St. Nicholas where visitors gather to follow the enchanting horizon as it paints purple strokes across the sky as the sun falls upon Thirasia. Oia has a district clinic and pharmacy to operate on a daily basis, five cash machines, a post office, a Citizen service centre, and an array of shops for everyone. There are 60 churches in the area many of which have been photographed for post cards. The largest festivals are those of Agios Georgios, Agios Stavros, Agios Spiridonas, Agios Nikolaos, Agios Savas and Panagia of Platsani.
Having overcome the catastrophes caused by economic decline, the earthquake and volcanic eruption, Oia is now bursting with life as a model community offering modern facilities. It has been relieved of overhead electricity and telephone cables that once imprisoned the village and now boasts underground cable, electricity and telephone networks, a complete irrigation and sewage network, a desalting plant for sea water, biological cleaning units, tourist facilities of a high standard and a Conference Centre and outdoor amphitheatre that are under construction. Preserving a special charm of times past, the harmonious and peaceful community of Oia draws you in to discover its secrets.
Even though Thirasia is located very close to Santorini, it is quite away from the frenzy rhythms of those who live in the opposite side. It is almost as if the eruption of the volcano in 1600 BC was so definitive that the two islands were kept away from each other not only in geological but also in cultural terms.
From the moment you set foot on Thirasia you will understand that you have come to a place that cannot possibly be conquered by tourism. As you walk through the island s villages, Potamos, Agrilia and Manolas, you will come across narrow pathways where genuine islanders walk. The companiles of the churches and the houses are coloured with bright shades of blue, yellow and green, and the landscape is complemented by multi-colored flower beds.
The first inhabited village you will come across on the island is Potamos ( potami in Greek means river) and took this name as it is built by a ravine. Most of the houses are built into the volcanic rock. Among its most well known churches are Panagia the Griatrissa and Agios Dimitrios. Agrilia is the oldest and largest village on Thirasia. It has an extremely picturesque landscape with houses built into the volcanic rock as well as canavas. The village is home to the churches of Panagia of Isodion and Panagia of Lagadiou which has a unique architecture that dates back to 1887. The capital of the island is Manolas, which is suspended above the caldera and has a view of Santorini. The church of Agios Konstantinos dating back to 1874, can also be found here. Kera or Keradiana was an inhabited area about thirty or fourty years ago. Today, the area offers many memories of that times as well as a wonderful view.
The only visitors of the island are relatives of the inhabitants and those who arrive by tourist boat just to make a tour. Thirasia has a community center with a great number of personnel, a well equipped heliport, a central irrigation network, lodgings with a view to Caldera.
WHERE TO GO
The Wine Museum, Kamari Beach tel : 22860 31322
The traditional village Vanishing Santorini tel: 22860 31101
The Icons and Relics Collection of Pyrgos tel: 22860 31812
The Museum of Minerals and Fossils tel: 6977260048
BOUTARI WINERY OF SANTORINI tel: 22860 81011
(wines: Kallisti, Kallisti Reserve, Selladia Boutari Estate, Boutari Assyrtiko, Santorini Boutari VQPRD and Vinsanto Boutari VQPRD)
CANAVA ROUSSOS tel: 22860 31349
(wines: Caldera, Nykteri, Santorini, Rivari, Athiri, Mavrathiro, Nama and vinsanto)
HATZIDAKIS WINERY tel: 22860 32552
( wines: Santorini, Nykteri, Aidani-Assyrtiko, Santorini barrel, Mavrotragano, Vinsanto)
SIGALAS ESTATE tel: 22860 71644
(wines: Santorini, Santorini barrel, Assyrtiko-Athiri, Niabelo red, Mavrotragano, Vinsanto, Mezzo)
ARGYROS ESTATE village of Mesa Gonia tel: 22860 31489
(wines: Argyros Estate, Argyros Estate barrel, Aidani, Canava Argyros, Atlantis white, rose, red, Vinsanto, Mezzo)
GAVALA VINEYARD Megalochori tel: 22860 82552
(wines: Assyrtiko, Athiri, Aidani, Mantilaria, Voudomato, Mavrotragano, Katsano and Gaidouria , Santorini, Katsano, Xenoloo, Vinsanto)
GAIA WINEMAKERS beach Agia Paraskevi tel: 6945 777 814
(wines: Thalassitis, Thalassitis barrel)
KOUTSOGIANNOPOULOS WINERY Kamari beach tel: 22860 31322
(wines: Lava white, Ampelones white, Ampelones barrel, En Lefko, Nykteri, Agali white, Lava red, Koutsogiannopoulos rose, Ampelones red, Agali red, Vinsanto Koutsogiannopoulos, Vinsanto Kamaritis, Mezzo Koutsogiannopoulos
White beach, Red beach, Gialos, Almyra, Vlychada, Perissa, Perivolos, Agios Georgios, Monolithos, Avis, Kamari, Karterados, Baxedes or Paradisos, Koloumbo, Exo Gialos, Kanakari, Caldera.
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