The precious gem of the Aegean!
Santorini, or Thira, one of the most photographed islands in the world, is located in the south of the Cyclades cluster, south of the island of Ios. It has an area of 76 sq km, a length of 18 km and a width of 12 km.
The highest peak, Prophet Elias, in the eastern part, is at a height of 586 m. The terrain is flat and volcanic in the greatest part. The island has been born from volcanic activity. From a smaller island, which originally existed, a larger island was created, named in old days Strongyli (Round). The active volcano, which exists, is known internationally as the Volcano of Santorini. The coastline has a length of 69 km. The shores are low in the northeast and east, and steep in the west. The island is crescent shaped, filled with the small islands Therassia and Aspronissi. Therassia is inhabited and has an area of 9 sq km, a length of 6 km and a width of 3 km. In the middle of the west coast it is formed the caldera, a huge basin created by a big explosion that sank a section of land. In the caldera are the islets of Nea Kammeni and Palaea Kammeni, crafted from lava.
Santorini is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, with magnificent landscapes, monuments, traditional settlements, infrastructure and famous wines. The capital, Fira, is built on the west coast at a height of 300 m – 580 steps above the harbor Ghialos. Near are the whitewashed villages of Imerovigli and Oia, and all around the island, traditional settlements as Vothonas, Messaria, Phinikia, Megalochori, Pyrgos, Emporio and others. Near the peak of Prophet Elias are the ruins of Thira, the capital of the ancient and medieval times, and at the southwest edge the city of Akrotiri, Minoan colony that came to light preserved under a thick layer of volcanic ash.
There are many popular beaches, such as Perissa, Kamari and Vlychada – with black volcanic sand – the volcanic Red Beach in Akrotiri, the sandy beaches in Monolithos and the beaches at Kouloumbo, Baxedes and Amoudi of Oia.
The island of Strongyli – or Kallisti (Very Beautiful), as it was called by the Phoenicians – was inhabited since prehistoric times. During the Bronze Age, was, like the other Cyclades, under the sovereignty of Minoan Crete, but the great eruption in 1500 BC brought the destruction.
In 1100 BC, Dorians came from Laconia led by Thiras, who gave his name to the island and the city, which was built at the southeast edge, on a steep plateau. In the late 7th century BC, Thira founded a colony in Cyrene, in North Africa.
In the Hellenistic era, the island was a great naval base of the Ptolemy of Egypt. During the Roman era it belonged to the province of Asia and during the Byzantine era to the theme (province) of the Aegean. During the Venetian rule, after 1207, it was under the Duchy of Naxos, knowing various rulers. At that time, it was named Santorini, after the Latin name of Aghia Irini – Santa Irene. In 1537, it was conquered by the Turks. On May 5, 1821 the Greek revolution was declared in the island.
The last centuries were a time of great development of shipping and trade of local products, among which stood out the excellent wine (vinsanto). Imposing mansions of captains were built in Fira and Oia and the folk architecture of the island was created, as the houses were built with clay and porcelain (aspa).