Santorini: an island of rare beauty, a place that for centuries lives in a sea of light in the middle of the Archipelago, Santorini the One. When you sail in the bay formed by the caldera, you are totally overwhelmed and filled with awe, looking at the most admired creation of nature, a creation that is breathtaking and filled with dazzling light. Santorini is the southernmost island of Cyclades and is located between Ios and Anafi.
Thera, Therassia, Aspronisi and the volcanoes (Palaia Kameni and Nea Kameni where the crater of the volcano exists) form the cluster of islands of Santorini. The volcano of Santorini is one of the active volcanoes of Greece, as long with Methana, Nisiros and Milos. The great crater was formed by the volcanic eruption around 1600 BC and creates a unique atmosphere: houses were built on the edge of the Caldera, not on the sea level, as in other islands. In addition, Santorini is one of the few places worldwide where architectural complexes of underground cave houses still survive inside the volcanic soil.
The Caldera and the whole cluster of the Santorini islands have been characterized as an area of outstanding natural beauty. The main island, Thera, has a shape of a half moon and is located in the easternmost position of the cluster. At the west side of the island one can see its geological history and the different phases of the volcanic activity. There are 14 villages in Thera and 3 villages in Therassia. The capital of the island is Fira.
Santorini emerges from the depths of the sea and is called “Stroggili” (round in Greek) because of her shape. In the 3rd millennium BC a city with a commercial port develops at Akrotiri. Following a period of social and economic flourishing, earthquakes and a big volcanic eruption (ca 1600 BC) totally destroys and buries the city.
In the late 13th c. BC Santorini is re-inhabited by the Phoenicians and later on by the Lacedaemonians (8th c. BC) who gave her the name “Thera”. The Ptolemies in the Hellenistic Times use Thera as their headquarters during war, whereas during the Byzantine Times, Alexios Komninos founds the Church of Panagia Episkopi (11th c AC) which is still standing at Mesa Gonia. After the Crusades, Thera gets intergraded in the Duchy of the Aegean Sea. The Venetians gave her the name “Santorini”, deriving from “Santa Irini”, the Church of Saint Irene. During the Turkish Occupation (1579-1821) Santorini becomes a commercial port, connecting to the ports of the Eastern Mediterranean. The integration of Santorini to the newly established Greek State (1830) signals a new period of commercial prosperity. The World Wars of the 20th century and the destructive earthquake of 1956 leads Santorini to decline and depopulation. At the end of the 1970s the growth of tourism brings the island back to life and to the top of the biggest travel destinations of the world. Santorini welcomes every year more than 1.500.000 tourists from all over the world.
Santorini is perhaps one of the best known volcanoes in the Mediterranean Sea and has been the site of numerous large scale eruptions during the last 360.000 years. The Minoan eruption of Santorini volcano in the late Bronze Age, ca 1.600 BC, is one of the largest volcanic eruptions in the history of humanity. This provoked the interest of geologists, historians and archaeologists mainly due to the impact of the region, precipitated the flourishing Bronze Age civilization of Akrotiri and forced the Minoan civilization in a rapid decline. Santorini is still an active volcano. This volcano is the past, the present and the future of the island. The unique beauty of Santorini is based on its geological history and the flora and the local products are unique because of this special volcanic soil.
Experience once in a life time activities on an island that never sleeps… Trekking: The unique volcanic landscape of Santorini offers an opportunity to be close to nature by following one of the many hiking trails on the island. There are 18 marked routes and each route has its own characteristic, whether it is the traditional architecture, or the vineyards of Santorini or just the grand blue of the Aegean Sea.
Diving: Diving into a volcanic sea bottom is always thrilling. There are magnificent spots for diving, such as the cape of Trypiti at Therasia, the shipwreck in Taxiarchis at Palia Kameni or the cave at Mesa Pigadia.
Watersports: The Aegean Sea is ideal for all kind of watersports! Jet ski, parasailing, wakeboard, water ski, wave runner or even sea kayak are some of the sports one can experience. Other sports: Horse riding on the beach, cycling through the island or climbing are also sports activities that can be found on the island.
Discover the true jewels of Santorini, its villages: Oia: A model of architectural and Cycladic finesse at the northern part of Santorini. Famous for its breathtaking sunset…
Fira: The capital and the commercial center of the island. Laid on the edge of Caldera with a picturesque view. Firostefani and Imerovigli: Northern to Fira – within a walking distance – with the panoramic view of the volcano and the Caldera. Karterados: Just outside Fira, wander around the paved alleys and taste the traditional Santorini “krithalokoulouro” (barley cookie). Vothonas: Built in a ravine of 5 km, totally hidden from the outsiders. Messaria: One of the biggest villages of the island, reminding the wealth and class of the 19th century of Santorini. Pyrgos: The old capital, a Venetian town with mansions and paved alleys of the past. Do not miss the view from the Kasteli. Mechalochori: A small traditional village with high expectations. Akrotiri: A small fish village, with a great history above its shoulders. The ancient city of Akrotiri is the most important archaeological discovery of the Eastern Mediterranean. Mesa Gonia / Exo Gonia: From the top to the bottom of the mountain, two beautiful villages with spectacular view to the sea. Emboreio: The largest village of Santorini used to be the commercial center of the island. The best preserved Kasteli of the island is here. Perissa & Kamari: The most popular black beaches of the island. Full of activities and crystal clean waters.
The soil of Santorini with its distinctive and anhydrous (dry) volcanic nature produces agricultural products that have a unique flavor. From the mouth-watering Santorini tomatoes and the fava beans that have been cultivated for the past four millennia, to the rare white aubergines and tangy wild capers that grow among the dry stone walls, here are the products that are as unique as their land of origin:
Santorini tomatoes – sundried, fresh or paste is the most famous PDO product of Santorini. Always juicy and full of aromas, gives a special add on to the palette. Fava – a special legume from a different variety of fava bean, Lathyrus Clymenum, found only in Santorini. White Aubergine – with a sweet taste, little seeds and the minimum absorption of oil while fried. Caper – buds and leaves of a wild bush, thriving in rocky areas. A necessary ingredient for salads, fava or even as seasoning to different plates. Hloro tyri – fresh goat cheese with a creamy texture, made by locals, usually for domestic use.
There is a broad selection of restaurants on the island, ranging from luxurious to more humble places. Indulge to the culinary history of the island and taste the chefs’ suggestions every single moment of your visit.
The deep blue of the Aegean, the breathtaking sunsets and the picturesque caldera set up the most romantic scene for your wedding.
Let your dream of a fairytale wedding come true in the awe-inspiring scenery of Santorini. Exchange vows in a setting of unique beauty and mark the beginning of a life together within the magic aura of the infinite blue sea, the scarlet painted sky and the wildness of the volcano.
It is estimated that 600 churches were built on the island - most of them after the 1956 earthquake. 50 of these churches are dedicated to Virgin Mary! Most of them are characterized by folk architecture of a unique style. Big white surfaces in the form of cubes, parallels, octagonal prisms, spheres, and cylinders dominate. There are no architectural ornaments, while openings are few and small. However, there are also several large churches built in the end of the 19th century. Typical examples include Panagia (Virgin Mary) of Bellonias in Fira and Aghios Georgios (Saint George) in Oia, before the earthquake.
They are based on Byzantine and Classical Greek architectural standards. The temples are both above and under the ground. They are usually small and simple with no decoration, built with local materials. The simplest architectural type is the Basilica, single aisled, marble roofed or with a dome, two aisled (more rare type with Saint Irene of Perissa built before the 12th century as a typical example). Worth visiting are the monastery of Prophet Εlias near Pyrgos and the monastery of Saint Nicholas in Imerovigli.
Wild beauty on black, red or white sand. Swim in crystal clear waters and enjoy the sun in a beach that is definitely one of a kind…
To access Santorini you can use sea or air transportation.
There are daily ferry trips from the port of Piraeus.
Port Authorities: +30 22860 22239
Santorini Airport: +30 22860 28400
Greek National Tourist Organization Office: +30 22860 27199
Municipality of Thera: +30 22863 60100
Police (Fira): +30 22860 22649
Health Center (Fira): +30 22863 60300