SANTORINI – AN ISLAND MIRACLE
All Greek islands are wonderful. Some are remarkable, and some are simply spectacular. Then you have ‘the miracle’ that is Santorini. Actually, it is not technically an island – it’s a mini archipelago, the remains of an ancient island called Thera which was a major trading nexus of the eastern Mediterranean until 3,600 years ago when the volcano in which the civilisation sat exploded.
One of the most powerful volcanic explosions in recorded history, the consequences were disastrous and felt around the entire Mediterranean sea and for miles into the mainland. Known alternatively as the Theran eruption or the Minoan eruption, the tsunami that it created almost certainly devasted the Minoan empire, the dominant force of the period.
Fast forward 36 centuries and this marvel of nature has become one of the most visited destinations in the world, with an estimated 2 million tourists coming here ever year. The name, Santorini, is a contraction of ‘Saint Irene’ who had a cathedral here named after her. The beaches are wonderful, some red, some black depending on the geology nearby. The black beaches tend to have warmer waters due to the sand’s absorption of the sun’s rays.
Sunset is a major draw and a natural focus of photography with many spectacular viewpoints. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the many places of natural beauty make Santorini a popular place for wedding proposals for those with a sense of romance.
So, at one level this is an island paradise of lovely vistas and fantastic Greek hospitality. At another level it is brim-full of ancient culture and history – no where more so than at Akrotiri. The Eastern Mediterranean’s answer to Pompeii (and many would say more spectacular), Akrotiri was the major trading hub on the island, a rich and populous town. Like Pompeii, when the volcano exploded, it was buried metres deep in ash and tufa.
Excavations here started in xxxx and have been ongoing ever since, every season something new is discovered. It predates Pompeii by xxxx years and is one of the ‘must see’ visits on any culture vulture’s global list, ancient history frozen in time. There is easily a day’s worth of things to see here, then adjourn to a taverna in Oia for a long cold drink and half close your eyes and look back through the mists of time as the sun goes down.
Make a point of trying the famous local wines. The volcanic soils here give the wine a special minerality and are starting to become renowned for their quality. Don’t miss the chance to take a vineyard tour.
Once the sun goes down Santorini turns on the lights and becomes a good time place for all things traditionally Greek – music, dancing, al fresco dining and nightcaps at waterfront bars as the moon glitters across the waters of the Aegean. The best thing is that tomorrow night you can do it all over again.
SANTORINI ISLAND TOURS
We have a great programme of organised island tours to ensure you get to see all the unmissable sites this amazing island has to offer.