The island of Santorini (73 sq km, 13,600 inhabitants) is located in the Aegean Sea, in the southernmost part of the Cyclades archipelago. The island is located south of Ios and west of Anafi. The large island of Crete is located just 120 km south of Santorini.
The island is also known by the name of Thera and is composed of two municipalities that of Thera, with Fira the main center of the island, and that of Oía which also includes the small island of Therasia.
AN ANCIENT EXPLODED VOLCANO
The island is what remains of an ancient volcano which exploded 3,600 years ago and which caused the destruction of the Minoan civilization on the nearby island of Crete. The shape of the caldera of the ancient volcano is clearly visible and recognizable from above.
Santorini is composed of the main island of Santorini or Thira, which occupies the eastern part of the arch of the caldera which is now partially submerged. And from the smaller islands of Thirasia, located to the north-west, of Nea Kameni and Palia Kameni, both in the center of the caldera, and from the small rock of Aspronisi.
Today it is possible to observe a large central lagoon, the ancient volcanic caldera, which measures 12 km by 7 km and is almost 400 meters deep, surrounded on three sides by rocky walls up to 300 meters high, on the remaining side there is the small island from Therasia.
The island of Santorini is basically a large cliff overlooking the sea. Its appearance is spectacular, in its rocks the consequences of the huge cataclysm that shocked it over three thousand years ago are clearly visible. The island reaches its highest point, 567 meters above sea level, along the south-eastern coast near the Mesa Vouno cape.
A VERY TOURISTIC ISLAND
Today the island of Santorini lives almost exclusively on tourism. Among the things to visit are obviously the volcanic phenomena that still characterize the island, moreover the caldera of the volcano with its overhanging walls is impressive. Off the Palea Kameni islet, formed in the 16th century, and located in the center of the caldera are hot underwater springs. While in the nearby islet of Nea Kameni it is possible to climb to the 127 meters high volcanic crater, which arose from the sea in the 18th century.
AKROTIRI: THE POMPEII OF SANTORINI
Among the archaeological sites the best known is that of Akrotiri located in the southern end of Santorini. This site is the Pompeii of Santorini, there are the remains of a city that was destroyed by a cataclysm in its heyday. In fact, a destructive volcanic eruption destroyed life and buried the city for over 3,500 years. Archaeological excavations have brought to light buildings with frescoes in excellent condition. The site is surrounded by the ruins of a Venetian castle.
Another archaeological area of great importance is that of Ancient Thera. It is a settlement founded millennia after the catastrophic eruption of Santorini. In fact, archaeological evidence has shown that Ancient Thera was inhabited between the 9th century BC. and 726 AD. There are the remains of the Agora, the theater, a basilica and other ancient structures.
Few are the beaches of Santorini. The villages of Perissa and Kamari, located along the southeastern coast, have some beaches. Other black volcanic sand beaches are found both along the south and north coasts of the island. The sunsets that can be seen from the village of Oia, at the northern end of the island, are unforgettable.
Among the museums of the island, in the town of Fira there are two interesting museums: the Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Prehistoric Thera which preserve objects found in Akrotiri and in Ancient Thera. In the village of Perisa there is instead the Museum of Fossils and Minerals. In the village of Oia there is instead a small Maritime Museum.
HOW TO GET TO SANTORINI
FLIGHTS: The island of Santorini has an international airport which is located 6 km southeast of the capital Thera. The island is connected with several daily flights with the Greek airports of Athens, Thessaloniki, Rhodes, Crete and Mykonos. During the summer period Santorini is directly connected with the main European capitals.
FERRIES: The island has excellent naval connections with Athens, Crete, Rhodes. Almost all the Cycladic islands are connected with Santorini, including Amorgos (1 hour by ferry), Folegandros (30 minutes by fast ship), Milos, Mykonos (2 hours by ferry), Naxos, Paros etc.