Geological history of Santorini began several million years ago. In the 3rd B.C. millennium it was inhabited by the Kares. Development of the island was stopped due to the outbreak of the volcano in 1500 B.C., when the central and west part of the island was sunk forming the kaldera. Following other outbreaks they were created the islets Thirassia and Old Kameni. In 1573 the islet Mikri Kameni was created that later on it was integrated to Nea Kameni, while there were other outbreaks too in the years that followed. In 1956 they were big earthquakes in the island.
Santorini is an island of gorgeous, fascinating beauty. Its history is connected with cosmogonies and biblic upheavals. It is extended in an area of 96 sq.km. and it is in a distance of 130 n.m. (about 8 hours) from Piraeus.
The entire island is a huge mass of the lava of the volcano. The dark blue of the sea with the brown-red and the black of the land cause an awe to the visitor.
Particularly imposing is the landscape in the western part of the island, where huge steep cliffs decorated at their top with white houses are softly sunk in the water.
The coasts of the island are steep in the western side of the island, whereas in the eastern one they are transformed into pebble or sandy beaches.
The capital Hora or Fira is a narrow long city impressing with the white arched houses appearing from the narrow streets. White terraces, courtyards and infinite staircases that are continuously lowering since the houses are situated below them thrusted in the earth.
From the harbour Athinios you can go to Fira by bus.
Hora has two cathedrals, the monastery of Dominican Nuns, the catholic monastey of Panaghia of Rodario as well as the mansion Ghyzi one of the oldest of Fira (17th century) used as cultural center where also in summer many festivities take place. St. Stylianos is a beautiful chapel in the edge of a precipice.
In Hora there is an Archaeological and Popular Art Museum, while the Museum of Prehistoric Thira includes fossils of plants and archaeological objects.
From Fira Bay you can visit by boat Nea Kameni to see the crater of the volcano.
Messaria, a village built in a region full of vineyards, with several neo-classical houses, is in a distance of 4 km. from Fira, while 9 km. eastwards it is Monolithos a by the sea village.
From Firostefani the view to the kaldera is different from the view offered by Fira. In the road leading from Firostefani to Imerovigli you will meet the monastery of St. Nicholas the oldest of the island with significant heirlooms and icons.
Imerovigli or Merovigli as it is called due to the amazing view to the Aegean sea, is a preservable village that is in a distance of 2 km. from Firostefani the far neighbouring end of Fira. Near Imerovigli there is the venetian castle Skaros offering fantastic view to Aegean sea. Worthwhile it is the church of St. George climbed up in a rock.
Oia, the cosmopolitan summer resort of the island is in a distance of 11 km. from Fira and is of gorgeous beauty. Small houses carved in a precipice, mansions in neoclassical style with courtyards, narrow stone-paved streets compose the picture of Oia. The balcony to the caldera is the square of the village from where the sunset is unforgetable. From Oia you can visit the traditional village Finikia and by boat you can go to the facing islet Thirassia.
In a distance of 2 km. from Fira it is situated the village Karterados, built in a ravine, with houses of interesting architecture and the church of Analipsi (Ascension).
15 km. south-east of Fira there is the village Perissa by the sea, famous for its dark coloured sea and the black fine sandy beach. In the one end of the beach is standing high up the stony mountain Messa Vouno. In the seaside it is the Monastery of Perissa with a church of the 19th century.
In the by the sea village Kamari, 10 km. from Fira you will see the chapel of Episkopi set up in the 11th century being an orthodox cathedral. From Kamari the road leads to the archaeological site of ancient Thira with ruins of the ancient city established in the 8th B.C. century.
In the most remote place of the island, 15 km. from Fira it is the village Akrotiri with significant archaeological findings. The professor Marinatos has discovered prehistoric settlement inhabited in 3000 B.C. approximately, has had great flourishing during the Middlecycladic Period, it was destroyed by the tremendous outbreak of the 15th B.C. century and it was buried there for centuries under the ashes of the volcano.