Santorini At a glance

by Thira tours

Santorini At a glance

Santorini At a glance


  • Santorini is the southernmost island of Cyclades and is located between Ios and Anafi.
  • It is 128 nautical miles away from the port of Piraeus and 63 nautical miles away from Crete.
  • Its size is 76 square km and the length of its shores is 69 km. The perimeter is approximately 36 nautical miles.
  • Thera, TherassiaAspronisi and the volcanoes (Palaia Kameni and Nea Kameni where the crater of the volcano exists) form the cluster of islands which is called Santorini.
  • It is included, together with Methana, Nisiros and Milos, in the most active of volcanoes in Greece.
  • The three main islands form a”ring” around the Caldera, the bay which was created when the central part of ancient Strongyli sank to the seabed. Its dimensions are 8×5 km and its depth is as low as 370 m.
  • The great crater formed by the volcanic eruption of around 1600 BC, adds to its distinct atmosphere: settlements are built on the edge of the crater’s inner walls and not on the sea level, as in other islands. In addition, Santorini is one of the few places worldwide where architectural complexes of underground rock-hewn houses still survive inside the volcanic soil.
  • The Caldera and the whole cluster of the Santorini islands have been characterized as an area of outstanding natural beauty.
  • The name Thera is taken after the legendary settler Theras of Sparta, who settled in the island and founded the homonymous town in Mesa Vouno approximately the 10th century B.C.
  • The name Santorini was given in 1153 by the Venetians and is referred to Arab geographer Edrisi. It is a pronunciation of both words Santa and Irene (Saint Irene), taken after either from the name of the church in the valley of Therassia, or from the name of the early Christian basilica in Perissa, which is not preserved.
  • The main island, Thera, has a shape of a half moon and is located in the easternmost position of the cluster. The west side consists of the walls of the Caldera which preserve the picture of its geological history and illustrate the different phases of the volcanic activity.
  • There are 13 villages in Thera and 3 villages in Therassia.
  • The capital of the island is Fira. The name derived from corruption of the word Thera, which is the official one.

INFO

Since 1980, thousands of couples from all over the world have chosen Oia and other Santorini villages for their wedding, or honeymoon trip. It is estimated that more than 500 ceremonies take place each year. Orthodox weddings usually take place in churches overlooking the Caldera, such as the Fira Orthodox Cathedral, Aghios Minas, the Anastasi (Resurrection) church in Imerovigli, Aghios Georgios (Saint George) and Panagia Platsani (Virgin Mary) in Oia; Catholics choose the Fira Cathedral.

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  1. admin says:

    The castle of Skaros
    When people lay eyes on the Imerovigli Skaros they may think it’s just another natural volcanic “sculpture”. However, those familiar with the island’s history know that up there, on this small piece of land, once stood an inviolable castle, with the public and private buildings of the island’s medieval capital.

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    Skaros is the most important attraction in Imerovigli, an impressive rock seen also from Fira. The fortified settlement was presented for the first time in 1421 by the traveller and map maker Boundelmonti. Travellers of the 17th century report that its natural position rendered it impregnable to attacs. The only accurate surviving image of the Imerovigli Skaros is a pencil sketch belonging to Thomas Hope, housed at the Benaki Museum, Athens.
    On top of the conic rock, one can see the fortified hub of the settlement, which was connected to the rest of the island via a movable wooden bridge. It was densely populated and had a labyrinth like path system.
    As it appears on Skaros there were two castles. The older one, called Epano Kastro (Upper Castle, or Roka) was a fortified citadel on the top of the rock. The more recent one was called Kato Kastro (lower castle), but it suffered from the falling fragments of the rock above.
    The older castle was built by Venetian Jacopo Barozzi, to whom Santorini was handed over in 1207. He and his noblemen used it as headquarters and residence. Space economy was what counted most in organising the settlement. The villagers exploited the very limited space to the utmost. Structures were packed tight, built in direct contact to one another. The basic building material was stone, which also served defence purposes.
    Kato Kastro was built in the 17th century and people made use of the building materials from the castle of Roka to erect their houses. In 1642, part of the castle was set aside to build the bishop’s residence. It was inhabited by Westerners, Catholics and, later on, Orthodox. There were the administration building, the residences of noblemen, the cathedral, churches, and monasteries. The Gyzi family founded here the monastery of Aghios Nikolaos (Saint Nicholas).
    People started to abandon Skaros in the early 17th century; by the end of the 18th century the transfer was completed. They moved to Fira whice became the new capital of the island. Among the reasons why Skaros was deserted were the hard conditions of living and transport, the destruction from falling rocks and the fact that the danger of pirate raids had ceased.
    Today only few ruins of the medieval settlement are still visible on the rock.

    INFO

    According to travellers of the 17th century in the middle of the Skaros rock there were 200 houses, deserted at the time and slowly crumbling down. The gates closed in cases of danger. Since it was situated very high it took half an hour to reach its walls.
    Skaros castle never fell during Venetian rule. It was severely damaged by the 1650 eruption of the underwater volcano of Culumbos.

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