Santorini, named by the Venetians in the 13th century, is a volcanic island in the Aegean Sea. Small in size, just 28 square miles, and home to only around 13,600 Greek citizens, it is known for its black volcanic sandy beaches and high-end style. Full of historic sites, empty beaches and clear, blue waters, it should be near the top of any Greek wish-list.
Santorini may well have conquered a corner of your imagination before you’ve even set eyes on it. With multicolored cliffs soaring over 300m from a sea-drowned caldera, it rests in the middle of the indigo Aegean, looking like a giant slab of layered cake. The island spoons the vast crater left by one of the biggest volcanic eruptions in history. Smaller islands curl around the fragmented western edge of the caldera, but it is the main island of Thira that will take your breath away with its snowdrift of white Cycladic houses lining the cliff tops and, in places, spilling like ice cornices down the terraced rock. When the sun sets, the reflection on the buildings and the glow of the orange and red in the cliffs can be truly spectacular.
Santorini draws crowds during the whole time of the year, yet it wears its tourism well, and its offerings make it worth the visit. The island’s intrigue reaches deep into the past, with the fabulous Minoan site of Akrotiri and the picturesque traditional hilltop village of Oia. It also glides effortlessly into the future with accomplished artists, world-class wineries, a unique microbrewery, and some of the Cyclades most exceptional accommodation and dining experiences. The multicolored beaches are merely the icing on the cake.
The Island of Santorini – Thera
- Santorini is the southernmost island of Cyclades and is located between Ios and Anafi.
- It is 128 nautical miles away from the port of Piraeus and 63 nautical miles away from Crete.
- Its size is 76 square km, and the length of its shores is 69 km. The perimeter is approximately 36 nautical miles.
- Thera, Therassia, Aspronisi and the volcanoes (Palaia Kameni and Nea Kameni where the crater of the volcano exists) forming the cluster of islands which is called Santorini.
- It is included, together with Methana, Nisiros, and Milos, in the most active of volcanoes in Greece.
- Three main islands form a”ring” around the Caldera, the bay which was created when the central part of ancient Strongyli sank to the seabed. Its dimensions are 8×5 km, and its depth is as deep as 370 m.
- The enormous crater formed by the volcanic eruption of around 1600 BC, adds to its distinct atmosphere: settlements are built on the edge of the crater’s inner walls and not on the sea level, as in other islands. Also, Santorini is one of the few places worldwide where architectural complexes of underground rock-hewn houses still survive in the volcanic soil.
- The Caldera and the whole cluster of the Santorini islands have been characterized as an area of outstanding natural beauty.
- The name Thera is given after the legendary settler Theras of Sparta, who settled on the island and founded the homonymous town in Mesa Vouno approximately the 10th century B.C.
- The name Santorini was given in 1153 by the Venetians and is referred to Arab geographer Edrisi. It is a pronunciation of both words Santa and Irene (Saint Irene), taken after either from the name of the church in the valley of Therassia or from the name of the early Christian basilica in Perissa, which is not preserved.
- The main island, Thera, has a shape of a half moon and is located in the easternmost position of the cluster. The west side consists of the walls of the Caldera which preserve the picture of its geological history and illustrate the different phases of the volcanic activity.
- There are thirteen villages in Thera and three villages in Therassia.
- The capital of the island is Fira. The name derived from the corruption of the word Thera, which is the official one.