Santorini, Greece: An Unique Island
Of all the Islands in Greece, could Santorini be the most beautiful of them all? According to Us News, and Travel + Leisure Magazine, Santorini is one of the top island destinations, not just in Greece, but all around the world.
Coveted for its deep history and unmatched beauty, Santorini just might be the most beautiful island in the world. Today, 15,550 people call Santorini home, sharing 28 square miles of scenic mainland.
Thinking about where your next travel destination might be? Let’s just say I’m already packing my bags. After looking at these photos, you will likely be ready to join me.
The homes in Santorini use traditional architecture, which includes low-roofs and cube shaped houses made using local stone colored by whitewashed or limewashed volcanic ash.
The geological appearance of Santorini today was formed 3-4 million years ago from a series of shield volcanoes, causing the caldera to collapse and form. The eruptions destroyed the singular island known as Thera at the time, along with its Minoan residents.
Due to so much volcanic activity, Santorini has a unique geography. It is surrounded by peaking cliffs, and much of the lava deposits can be identified in the cliff soil and beach sand.
Historical excavations on the island reveal detailed history about the Minoan people that once lived here. So far only part of their remains have been dug up, including multi-level buildings, squares, and streets. Walls as tall as 8 meters have also been uncovered, everything entombed by the volcanic lava as it rushed through the area.
This volcano happened during what is known as the Bronze Age civilization. Prior to the volcano, it is believed that people occupied the island between 3000 and 2000 BC. This group of people were clearly civilized and rather wealthy, considering some of the oldest known water pipes have been discovered in the area. Also, some of their detailed artwork has been excavated, such as the painted wall below.
For many years after the huge volcano, Santoirini remained desolate and unoccupied, but with such unmistakable beauty, it wasn’t long before people claimed their stake. By the end of the Bronze Age, Phoenicians moved to the island for around 8 generations. Next, in the 9th Century BC, the Dorians moved in. Since then, the faces on the island have continued to grow and change.
In the thirteenth century the island was re-named Santorini by the Latin Empire, in reference to Saint Irene. Before this, the island was often referred to as Kalliste, which means “the most beautiful one.”
Santorini is one of the only European locations, along with Anafi, that has a warm, desert climate. From April to October the weather is warm and dry, while from November to March, it gets a little colder and the rain comes.
Looking at the island from up in the air, Oia is located at the left tip, Fira is situated near the middle, and all of the beach towns are scattered along the far side of the island.
After a major earthquake in 1956, many of the island buildings up north were destroyed, causing villagers to flee to Piraeus or Athens. The homes with the most damage were built on the ridge overlooking the caldera, here the soil was very unstable and could not hold up under the force of the earthquake.
The tourist boom has helped the economically in Santorini, and has also brought back some of the population. Although one of the most beautiful places to live, you can’t count Santorini as one of the safest with earthquakes and volcanoes lurking around every unknown decade.
Still, to see this exquisite place with your own eyes is unlike anything else, and to wake up with a view like this, perhaps the risks are well worth it!
Photo Credits: Hotel Hellas, Wiki, travelthewholeworld, Oia, Grace Santorini