Santorini
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Fira in Santorini Fira in Santorini Fira in Santorini Fira in Santorini Fira in Santorini
Fira in Santorini Fira in Santorini Fira in Santorini Fira in Santorini Fira in Santorini
THE VILLAGES OF THE ISLAND OF SANTORINI OR THIRA IN THE CYCLADES IN GREECE

- The village of Fira on Santorini - The center of the activities is the capital Fira which is positioned high on the edge of the caldera rim. Stairs lead down the crater wall, 587 steps, to the old port of Skala Fira. You can walk or you can go by donkey, but there is also a cable car. Skala Fira is a place where the cruise boats moor. Allthough Fira can be seen as a tourist centre it still has enough charm left to pay it a visit. Even if it was just for taking a drink on a terrace and enjoying the views. It is a photegenetic and picturesque place and there are views from Fira to the neighbouring island of Anafi. The big attraction in Fira is the view over the caldera and the vulcano. There are telescopes on some of the places so you can take a better look. Along the edge of the caldera and in the many small and narrow streets behind it you find all kinds of small bars, tavernas and shops. It's worthwhile to take a real good look the village because there is much to see and if you wonder around a bit longer here you will find more and more cozy and quaint shopping streets that are paved with cobblestones, where many interesting small shops, ice cream parlors and restaurants. In Fira you can also find most travel agencies where you can buy a ferry ticket to the next destination if you have that planned.

Fira in Santorini Fira in Santorini Fira in Santorini Fira in Santorini Fira in Santorini

Like in many of the villages on Santorini there are many churches with domes and there are characteristic cave houses: dwellings that are cut into the rocks. The most famous and most photographed church is the 18th century Agios Minas church with its blue dome and white clock tower. There are also two Archeological Museums in Fira. In the old museum there are mainly finds to be seen that date from the post Minoan times and in the new museum next to the bus station there are Minoan frecoos on display that have been found in Santorini. There is also a town museum. The best time to exlore Fira is in the mornings when it is not so hot and so busy yet and the sunrise gives the buildings a beautiful glow. In the cause of the day the village will fill up with tourists that are armed with cameras ready to take their pictures and not until the end of the afternoon the peace will more or less return. In the evening the village comes to life again and the bars and the clubs in Fira fill up.

- The village of Imerovigli on Santorini - Next to Fira (2 kilometer) on a higher point almost like an extention of the capital is the traditional and more quiet village of Imerovigli. It was once built on a higher point in order to detect the pirates that roamed the area. Much of Imerovigli was destroyed in the 1956 earthquake and rebuilt afterwards. In front of Imerovigli lies a very large rock with the name of Scaros, on which there was once a castle. During the earthquake the castle disapeared completely. In Imerovigli there are several (most of them luxury) hotels and tavernas to choose from and from the village there are beautiful views over the sunset.

Firostefani in Santorini Firostefani in Santorini Firostefani in Santorini Firostefani in Santorini Firostefani in Santorini
Firostefani in Santorini Firostefani in Santorini Firostefani in Santorini Firostefani in Santorini Firostefani in Santorini

- The village of Firostefani on Santorini - Between Imerovigli and Fira lies the village of Firostefani. The villages are more or less interconnected and glued to eachother. Firostefani is situated a little bit higher than Fira and there are good views over the sea and the sunset. In Firostefani there are enough choices for accommodations and there are restaurants and bars in the village. Between Firostefani and Imerovigli lies the monastery of Agios Nikolaos.

Oia in Santorini Oia in Santorini Oia in Santorini Oia in Santorini Oia in Santorini
Oia in Santorini Oia in Santorini Oia in Santorini Oia in Santorini Oia in Santorini

- The village of Oia on Santorini - Oia is the most important settlement hanging on the the caldera cliff on the north side of the island. Oia is without any question the most picturesque village on the whole island of Santorini and it is famous for having the most beautiful sunsets in Greece. Oia is a little bit less crowded and a little bit nicer than in Fira and also a little prettier. It can get busy during the daytime when the tourist busses arrive filled with people that want to see this little village. The heart of Oia is without traffic, so you can enjoy your caldera views without the noise of cars. There are many nice small shops, art galleries, mini-markets, plenty of restaurants and a couple of bakeries. Around sunset time all the people in the village gather on one side of the village on the old castle walls and the higher paths to watch the sun set over the windmills, the churches and the islands that in the sea lie next to Santorini. After this it will get more quiet when a lot of the visitors go to their bus and back to their hotel elsewhere on the island.

Oia in Santorini Oia in Santorini Oia in Santorini Oia in Santorini Oia in Santorini
Oia in Santorini Oia in Santorini Oia in Santorini Oia in Santorini Oia in Santorini

Like most of the villages in Santorini Oia was heavily damaged during an earthquake in 1956 but it has been rebuilt in a high quality. Down at the caldera cliff is the tiny port of the village with its fish tavernas. This port is called Amoudi and here you have nice views up to the mountain with Oia on top.

Oia in Santorini Oia in Santorini Oia in Santorini Oia in Santorini Oia in Santorini
Oia in Santorini Oia in Santorini Oia in Santorini Oia in Santorini Oia in Santorini

Oia has two beaches that you can reach by stairs. They are small black pebble beaches that are called Amoudi and Armeni. There are beachchairs and umbrellas for rent and compaired to the beaches at the popular beach resorts on the east side of Santorini they are very quiet. On fifteen minutes walking distance from Oia you find the nice sand / pebble beach of Katharos. There are no facilities here but just before you have to descend the path down to the beach there is a taverna where you can get something to drink. Just outside Oia is the village of Finika that is slowly developping into a tourist centre of its own.

Akrotiri in Santorini Akrotiri in Santorini Akrotiri in Santorini Akrotiri in Santorini Akrotiri in Santorini
Akrotiri in Santorini Akrotiri in Santorini Akrotiri in Santorini Akrotiri in Santorini Akrotiri in Santorini

- The village of Akrotiri on Santorini - The village of Akrotiri is situated in the south of the island on a short distance of the special Red Beach and the archeological Minoan site of Akrotiri Town (easily named after the nearby more modern village). Because the town was covered in ashes from the vulcano much has been well preserved. In the "new" Akrotiri there are remains of a Venetian Castle (most of it destroyed by the Turks during their occupation of Santorini) and there are a couple of churches. The Venetian fortress is not very large but it is open, so it pats off to climb in it and enjoy the views that you have from its walls. In and around Akrotiri you will find many hotels and restaurants and there are other facilities like for instance a supermarket. In some parts of the village you also have a wonderful view of the caldera, equal to Fira or Oia.

Akrotiri is less picturesque than for instance Fira or Oia (also because of the large wooden telephone poles in the village, but it does have some pretty streets and it is much more quiet. Allthough you will find most everything that you need in Akrotiri it feels less touristic. Near Akrotiri is also the pebble beach of Akrotiri and in a bay below on the other side of the village is Bella Bay with another beach which overlooks the caldera and the Kameni islets that lie in it.

Kamari Beach Santorini Kamari Beach Santorini Kamari Beach Santorini Kamari Beach Santorini Kamari Beach Santorini
Kamari Beach Santorini Kamari Beach Santorini Kamari Beach Santorini Kamari Beach Santorini Kamari Beach Santorini

- The village of Kamari on Santorini - This village situated on the south east side of the island is a tourist attraction because of its beach but it is also an older village which was strategically positioned on the coast. Although mostly destroyed in the 1956 earthquake and later rebuilt the village has a couple of interesting sights. There are a few old churches amongst which are the Panagia Myrtidiotissa church and the Panaghia Episkopi church that dates from the 11th century. The beach of Kamari is about 2 kilometers long and consists of black lava sand. Along the beach there are many restaurants and bars to choose from and of course there are plenty of accommodations.

Perissa in Santorini Perissa in Santorini Perissa in Santorini Perissa in Santorini Perissa in Santorini
Perissa in Santorini Perissa in Santorini Perissa in Santorini Perissa in Santorini Perissa in Santorini

- The village of Perissa on Santorini - Perissa is a village but mainly a tourist resort south east of the capital Fira. In Perissa there is a nice long black vulcanic sand beach. From the sea on one side of the beach rises an impressive rock / mountain, the Profitis Ilias mountain, which protects the village from the winds. Inside the village is the Agia Irini Church which dates from the 17th century and there are other churches like the Panaghia Katefiani which is built in a rock. The Monastery of Timios Stavros (Holy Cross) is built at the beach and has an impressive church dating from the 19th century.

Most of the buildings in Perissa though are fairly new and built for the tourists. In Perissa there is a large choice for hotels, apartments and studios just like a wide variety in bars, restaurants and tavernas. In the village there is also a camping and there is a medical center. Connections by bus to the capital are frequent. From Perissa there is a path leading to the ruins of ancient Thira. There are the remains of an old Dorian city from the 4th to the 1st century BC which are situated at a height of 300 meters. The walk to ancient Thira takes about one hour. There are sanctuaries, a Doric temple of Dionysos, a forum, a theater and a gymnasium.

In one way or another we thought Perissa was a real cozy village. It is quite touristy but the atmosphere is very relaxed, especially in the evening, and you can have delicious and cheap food. For us to it is a village to return again some day for a short stay.

- The village of Megalochori on Santorini - Megalochori (meaning "big village") is a village in the southwest of Santorini, not far from ancient Thira and at a distance of 10 kilometers from the capital Fira. The village is set on a hill and has lots of narrow streets with Cycladic houses, neoclassical buildings, cave houses and churches. Megalochori is the center of the wine industry of Santorini and it is surrounded by vine yards. On the outskirts of the village you will find one of the best known wine factories of Greece: Boutaris. On the main square of the village you will find a couple of tavernas. There are also a couple of hotels and rooms for rent.

Pyrgos in Santorini Pyrgos in Santorini Pyrgos in Santorini Pyrgos in Santorini Pyrgos in Santorini
Pyrgos in Santorini Pyrgos in Santorini Pyrgos in Santorini Pyrgos in Santorini Pyrgos in Santorini

- The village of Pyrgos on Santorini - The village of Pyrgos is situated at a distance of 8 kilometer of Fira on the mountain Profitis Ilias. This used to be the capital of the island of santorini until the early 1800's. The center of the village is a Venetian castle with the traditional village houses built around it. The village has lots of narrow streets, many churches (some of them have beautiful old wall paintings) and there are beautiful views over the island. In Pyrgos there are (luxury) accommodations, tavernas and cafés. Inside the village there is no traffic allowed so you have to leave your car on the outskirts. On the top of the mountain, 4 kilometer south of the village of Pyrgos, stands a famous attraction: the Monastery of Profitis Ilias that dates from the 18th century which houses several religious treasures amongst which are 15th century icons.

Exo Gonia & Messa Gonia in Santorini Exo Gonia & Messa Gonia in Santorini Exo Gonia & Messa Gonia in Santorini Exo Gonia & Messa Gonia in Santorini Exo Gonia & Messa Gonia in Santorini
Exo Gonia & Messa Gonia in Santorini Exo Gonia & Messa Gonia in Santorini Exo Gonia & Messa Gonia in Santorini Exo Gonia & Messa Gonia in Santorini Exo Gonia & Messa Gonia in Santorini

- The villages of Exo Gonia and Messa Gonia on Santorini - These two villages are in the hills / mountains of Santorini, near Pyrgos and Kamari in the southeast of the island. Exo Gonia is famous for its ancient church, the Panagia Episkopi, which has survived many invasions and earthquakes. It is a Byzantine church that dates from the 11th century. It is marked with a sign and can be reached on a rather bad road with boulders from Exo Gonia. Unfortunately the opening hours are somewhat limited (from 10.00 to 12.00 and from 14.00 to 17.00 hours) and so when we visited we saw a closed door. On the road from Kamari to Exo Gonia and Messa Gonia you pass a couple of nice churches on the sides of the road and you will see a lot of fields where grapes are grown that are used for making wine. In the highest village of the two, Messa Gonia, there is a big square with a huge church. Here you can enjoy beautiful views over the island. On top of the mountain you'll see a fort. The two villages have suffered a lot from the major earthquake of 1956 and many of its inhabitants have left their destroyed houses and moved to Kamari.

- The village of Messaria on Santorini - Messaria is a small traditional agricultural village (wine making) at a distance of 4 kilometers southeast of the capital Fira. The village is one of the main traffic cross roads for Santorini, so it can be busy with cars. More up high in the village there are some interesting small churches, pretty houses and mansions. Interesting are the church of Metamorphosis of Sotiros and the church of Agia Irini. Both churches date from 1680 to 1700. In the area of Messaria there are many vine yards and gardens.

Karterados in Santorini Karterados in Santorini Karterados in Santorini Karterados in Santorini Karterados in Santorini
Karterados in Santorini Karterados in Santorini Karterados in Santorini Karterados in Santorini Karterados in Santorini

- The village of Karterados on Santorini - Karterados is a beautiful and quiet traditional village that dates back from the 17th century. There are narrow streets with cycladic houses, fruit trees and cave dwellings. The village is packed with beautiful large churches in all colours and shapes. Karterados is situated a little east of the capital Fira. There is not much traffic in Karterados because a lot of the streets are to narrow for cars. Best is to leave your car on a parking on the edge of the village and continue on foot.

Faros in Santorini Faros in Santorini Faros in Santorini Faros in Santorini Faros in Santorini

- The Faros lighthouse on Santorini - Of course this is not really a village but it is a destination for some of the tourists on the island of Santorini: the Faros lighthouse in the extreme southwest of the island. It is situated on top of a high cliff and there are excellent views.

Myloi in Santorini Myloi in Santorini Myloi in Santorini Myloi in Santorini Myloi in Santorini
Myloi in Santorini Myloi in Santorini Myloi in Santorini Myloi in Santorini Myloi in Santorini

- The village of Myloi on Santorini - Myloi can be found in the southeast of the island of Santorini. It is not so much a village, but more a row of windmills and a couple of churches and a few houses situated on a hill near Perissa and Emporio. Miloy is a place where you go to to enjoy the silence and the views over Santorini and the sea.

Emporio in Santorini Emporio in Santorini Emporio in Santorini Emporio in Santorini Emporio in Santorini
Emporio in Santorini Emporio in Santorini Emporio in Santorini Emporio in Santorini Emporio in Santorini

- The village of Emporio in Santorini - Emporio is the largest village in the plain which lies in the southeast of Santorini, and it has close to 2000 inhabitants. It is not far from Perissa, to which is almost attached. In the village are a few beautiful churches with blue domes and bell towers, and there is an old Turkish fortress in the shape of a square. This fort is called Goulas and it was built as a protection against pirate attacks. Once the treasures of the monastery of Patmos were housed there. There are also remains of a Venetian fortress that once stood in the village. Emporio has many narrow streets and you can see it is a very old village. There are taverns, shops and several accommodations in Emporio. Emporio is near the windmills of Myloi which stand nearby on a hill, and a few miles away is the seaside resort of Perissa.


© Hans Huisman, http://www.angelfire.com/super2/greece/ 2013
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