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Santorini island - Greece

Santorini is situated at the Southern part of the Cyclades, South to Ios and Sikinos, South-East to Folegandros, West to Anafi and North to Crete, at a distance of 130 nautical miles from Piraeus and 70 nautical miles from Crete; along with Anafi, it is the closest to Crete island of the Cyclades complex. Its extent is 96 square klm, the coast line 69 klm approximately, and it counts circa 11000 permanent residents. Officially it is called Thera, but Santorini is the comnon name used worldwide.
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Santorini is unique both for its shape and its landscape. The whole island is a volcano, still active today and its actual shape is the result of volcanic eruptions in various periods. The most important of them seems to have taken place in 1500 b.C., when, all the western part of the island disappeared under the water which covered all the space left after the violent eruption, forming the walls of the "caldera", the remains of the old crater of the volcano, a steep rock of volcanic material, 150 to 300 m. high.

At the opposite side, to the west, two smaller islands, Thirassia and Aspronissi (or Aspro), form a circle with the main island, giving an impression of the shape of the island before the eruption. Virtually, we can reconstruct a rather round island, as its very ancient greek name - Strongyli (meaning "round") - connotates. The caldera covers a space of 32 square klm approximately and has a depth of 300 to 600 m. Nearly at the middle of this circle, two small islands made of volcanic material, appeared in more recent periods, Palaia Kammeni and Nea Kammeni, give evidence that the volcano even today, is not totally dormant. The island owes to the caldera its fame and originality. The view the visitor sees when reaching Santorini by boat is breathtaking.

A steep cliff, of various colours, ranging from purple to vivid red and from various tones of grey to pale yellow, without any vegetation, stands like threatening, discouraging anyone wishing to explore it. The rest of the island, hidden behind, is totally invisible. However, just at the feet of the cliff and at the very edge of its top, arise little white houses, small churches with blue domes, narrow paths and steps leading to the top.
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And, if you give a better look, you might distinguish the small doors of houses dag in the volcanic rock, a genious solution for dwellings, and an example of how man can take profit even of the most inhospitable environment.
The rest of the island is partly mountainous, but there are also flat areas, mainly at the eastern part. The volcanic soil is very fertile and Santorini used to produce high quality vegetables and wines with special taste.

Santorini has a very long history. It has been active since prehistoric times as it has been found from archaeological excavations. In the 2nd millenium b.C. a fascinating, wealthy civilisation flourished on the island, brutally interrupted by the volcano eruption which destroyed everything on the island. It seems that people had abandonned the island well ahead, warned by the strong earthquakes that anticipated the eruption.

Thick layers of ashes, dust and volcanic material covered all the island and all evidence of this high civilisation disappeared.

Excavations conducted since the 60's and still continuing, have brought to light a settlement with luxurious houses with beautiful frescoes on their walls, a system of water supply and drainage. Due to the ash, the whole environment was left intact for centuries ; even the shape of wooden artefacts has been preserved and it has been possible to reconstruct furniture by making plaster casts. In fact, it is really the "Greek Pompei", as it is usually said. Many people, some scholars among them, also believe that this prehistoric settlement is the legendary Atlantis, mentioned in ancient texts for its wealth and the peaceful character of its civilisation.

But it is not only archaeological interest that Santorini offers to its visitors. The volcano attracts the attention and curiosity of many people; at the Kammeni (meaning "burnt"), part of the crater, it is evident that the volcano is still active, as sulphur and vapours emerge from the hot, dry soil.
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The island is full of original and scenic beaches. Deep clear blue water at the western part of the island, where the caldera, smoother beaches with black or red sand and polished black stones and pumice stones at the eastern part, most of them with full touristic facilities, offer a wide range of alternatives for swimming, sunbathing and sea sports.

Santorini is one of the most romantic places in the world. The sunset from Oia or Imerovigli is a spectacle not to miss. The sun sets directly to the sea bathing the whole landscape in colours ranging from blue and purple to red and yellow. The caldera looks like burning, evoking the real eruptions of the past.

And, as the dark falls on the island, the view from the caldera is still fascinating; and if there is full moon, the moon stream on the water looks like a road leading to unknown, interesting itineraries. Being so, it is not strange that many couples choose Santorini for their honey-moon, or even for their wedding ceremony.

The island has 17 villages, both on the sea and in the interior.

All of them have a particular character and almost all flourish today because of tourism.
Satorini is easily reached from Pireaus or Rafina by conventional or high speed ships or by flying dolphins. There is at least one ship per day in winter and more than two in summer.

There is good connection with the islands of the line, Paros, Naxos, Ios all year round, as well as with Thessaloniki, while in summer it is also connected with Myconos, the islands of Northern Aegean, the Dodecanese and Crete. The port is at Athinios bay, 9 klm South of Fira, the capital of the island.

From the International airport of Athens El.Venizelos there are usually one or two flights to Santorini all year round, while in summer there are also charter flights.

The Santorini airport is at the eastern part of the island, close to Monolithos, 8 klm far from Fira.
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