Santorini is conceivably the most well known island in Greece . Santorini thought by many scholars to be the site of the sunken city of Atlantis . Settled by the Dorians in the 8th century was called Thira, renamed Santorini in tribute to St. Irene, by the Venetians in the 13th century. Santorini, in spite of mass tourism retains much of its charisma.
Fira is the capital of the island, stands on the rim of the old volcano overlooking the caldera. The town is spectacular with its houses and churches, destroyed by an earthquake in 1956 the town has been rebuilt into the cliffs of the volcano. Many of the town’s restaurants and hotels built on the rim of the volcano offer magnificent views over the caldera and the small islands in the bay. To reach Fira you can take the cable car from the port of Skala Fira , which is 270m below Fira, or you can ride up on the backs of donkeys, up the 580 steps that connect the towns, if you feel sorry for the donkeys you can also walk up. Fira is a maze of streets with shops selling everything from souvenirs to jewellery.
The Museum of Prehistoric of Thira houses many of the magnificent finds from the excavation site at Akrotiri. The star exhibit is the gold ibex figurine dating from the 17th century BC. Also on display are breathtaking wall paintings from the site. Entrance tickets bough at tis museum allow you entry into the Archaeological museum and the sites of Akrotiri and Thira .
The Archaeological Museum also has on displays from Akrotiri and the excavations of ancient Thira . Also on display are artefacts from the Hellenistic and Roman periods.
The Megaron Gyzi Museum has a display of photographs of the island before the earthquake plus other items from that time.
The church of Agiou Mina is the symbol of Santorini, with its blue dome and white bell tower. The church of Agios Stylianos , on the edge of the cliff is worth a visit, as is the Orthodox Cathedral, with its impressive bell towers.
Akrotiri this ancient site once a Minion settlement, is one of the most important sites in Greece . In 1967, excavations revealed this former city magnificently preserved, despite lying under volcanic ash for 3,500 years. A roof covers the site and elevated walkways enable you to enjoy this amazing site. The site contains many houses still with exquisite frescoes on their walls. Some of the frescoes are in the Archaeological Museum in the town, while some of them are on display in the National Museum in Athens . Superb storage jars that used for storage still lie in the houses and stores when the inhabitants fled. No human or animal remains were found on the site, indicating that the residents had time to escape from the impending eruption of the volcano. A breathtaking site that reflects a civilised society long forgotten in the mists of time must be on the visitor’s agenda.
Ancient Thira situated on the rocky headland on the southeast coast, excavated in the 1860s has remains of temples built in the 4th and 3rd centuries BC. In addition, remains from the Hellenistic and Roman periods are to be seen. Vases from the 7th century are on display in the Museum in Fira. A sanctuary from the 3rd century BC features relief’s of a Dolphin, Lion, Eagle and a phallus symbolizing the Gods Zeus, Apollo, Poseidon and Priapus. The Temple of Celebrations , is adorned with graffiti from 800 BC praising the competitors and dancers, who danced naked at the festivals here in honour of Apollo.
Oia this small village once devastated in the 1956 earthquake, and later rebuilt, is quieter than Fira, offers the visitors wonderful sunsets, and many visitors come here to relax and eat in one of the many restaurants.
The island has good beaches, Red beach near Akrotiri is breathtaking with a backdrop of high cliffs. The beaches at Perissa, Agios Georgios, and Vlihada among others are very popular. The small island of Thirasia once part of the main island is an attractive alternative for those seeking to escape Fira for a short break.