Santorini, a name given by the Venetians in the 13th century, is a Greek island located in the Aegean Sea. Just 28 square miles and home to only around 13,600 Greek citizens, the island 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.
Archaeological Museum of Thera
The Archaeological Museum of Thera is home to a number of finds from sites such as Akrotini and other Cyclades Islands. The building was erected in 1960 in order to replace the 1902 museum which was destroyed during an earthquake. A number of historic periods are covered, up until the late Roman era. Exhibitions within the museum include the history and geology of Thera as well as treasures from as far back as the Neolithic era. Some noted artifacts include a clay oven and bathing tub and the clay daedalic figure, which dates back to the 7th century and is extremely well preserved.
Tomatoes are one of Santorini’s most traditional and well-known products. Located in Vlychada, the Tomato Industrial Museum provides visitors with an interesting way to learn of the culture and traditions of Santorini’s citizens through everything from recordings to written notes. Once a tomato factory owned by D.Nomikos, the museum now exhibits pieces such as machinery dating back to 1890, work tools, the narratives of factory workers and work manuscripts. Exhibits also aim to teach people about Santorini’s history and its people and the museum is home to an art shop which sells jewelry and artwork adorned with Greek design.
One of the most prominent excavation sites within the Aegean Islands, Akrotini has been an active excavation site since 1967. Civilisations from the 4th millennium BC up until the 17th century BC have been discovered here. Some of the most important buildings are ‘Xeste 4’ – a three storey building which is the largest find up until this point – as well as the ‘House of Ladies’ which is named after the fresco of the ladies and Papyrus which was used as an interior design. Many finds from this site are exhibited in the Archeological Museum of Thera.
Mnemossyne Gallery, in Oia is home to a collection of contemporary art books, photographs and jewelry. The pieces exhibited are the work of local artists and designers, making this quite a unique and personal experience of the island. Many of the designs are quite unusual, reflecting the unique aesthetic of the island and of Greek art past and present. If you want to make a little piece of the island home with you, these make a some are available for sale as a unique gift or souvenir.
Santorini is famous for its beautiful sunsets and the village of Oia is the most popular spot. The village praised for its beauty and charm and can be enjoyed at any point of the day; however the sunset is its most enchanting feature. It is actually said that it is one of the most beautiful sunsets on earth. It can only be seen from the tip of the island which means the number of visitors waiting to see this wonderful sight can sometimes make it a little hectic.
Santorini is the most recognized, active volcanic structure in the South Aegean Sea. The volcano has provided evidence of up to 12 large eruptions over the past 200,000 years. The last major eruption occurred in around 1650BC and was one of the largest within the past 10,000 years. There have been a number of smaller occurrences over the years with the most recent explosion occurring in 1950. There are a number of operators in the main towns offering tours for those wishing to explore the active craters. The tour includes a boat excursion to the site followed by a 20-30 minute walk each way to the sulfuric craters at the top.
Located 10 kilometres from Fira, the Island’s capital, this is one of Santorini’s most popular beach resorts with the area undergoing development works after an earthquake in 1956. Awarded with a Blue Flag certification, this beach provides a range of facilities such as showers, sunbeds and umbrellas. One of the main features of this site however, is its volcanic black sand. The beach is also situated under the impressive Mountain of Mesa Vouno. Although a great place to relax, Kamari Beach offers a wide variety of activities with everything from speed boats to scuba diving, and even a little history – in 2002 a sanctuary dedicated to the legendary Achilles was discovered. .
The Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral, also known as the Church of Ypapantis is one of Santorini’s landmarks. It is dedicated to John the Baptist. The original church was built in 1827, however had to be re-built after it was destroyed during the 1956 earthquake. The design of the Cathedral is quite breath-taking with its arches, domes and beautiful steeple. The church also houses a number of wonderful frescos created by local artist Christoforos Assimis. However, the surroundings of the cathedral are equally worth a look. Situated on the top of a cliff towards the bottom of the town, the church offers a wonderful view. Mass in the church convent is regularly attended by the Catholic nuns and visitors are free to join if they so wish.
Between the villages of Imerovigli and Firostefani lies the Agios Nikolaos Monastery. It was the second monastery to have been built in Santorini and was dedicated to the saints Agios Panteleimon, Zoodoxos Pighi and Agios Nikolaos. It was founded in 1651 by the Gizi family who originally lived inside the Castle of Skaros and were one of few Orthodox families. However, it was moved to its present location in 1815 with construction for the new monastery ending in 1820. Today the monastery is home to an ecclesiastical museum and a folk law museum. Precious Byzantine icons are exhibited here including most importantly the icon of Agios Nikolaos as well as the wooden iconostasis of the katholikon.
Built in 1888, Argyros Mansion was home to George Argyros, a wealthy and famous wine manufacturer. The mansion is currently under the ownership Manolis Argyros who is the fourth generation of the family. The mansion is well-known for its beautiful neo-classical style architecture which includes Bavarian design as was the fashion during this period. From the living room with its Austrian styled furniture to the dining room whose Venetian dining table could accommodate eighteen people, this house breathes elegance and sophistication. The first floor is home to a museum which houses a number of Greek artifacts for visitors to ponder along with a number of paintings which date back to the 19th century. The house is open to the public and includes guided tours for both individuals and groups.