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Greek Island of Santorini (Cyclades) Page 1 | 2
Click Map for the Guide to Santorini


the calderaFrom here one can walk to Ia (Oia) along the path on the cliff edge, with views of cultivated terraces along the slopes. Despite the barren impression of Thira given by those dry cliffs over the caldera, the same volcanic action that produced them also provided fertile volcanic soil, which yields tomatoes, grapes, wheat and pistachios, the cherry tomatoes known for their flavor, the bigger tomatoes often used for tomato paste.

Woven cane is used to protect the grapevines from the wind, and there are some very old rootstocks, from which some fine white wine is produced (some of the best in the Cyclades). There is also a rare wine made from sun dried grapes; another has a jasmine scent.

The well known Boutari family (among Greece's main vintners) opened a winery and restaurant in 1988 at Megalohori, on the coast road to Akrotiri; on the road to Kamari is the wine tasting room of Koutsoyanopoulos.

Most consider the village of Ia (Oia) the island's most beautiful and definately the most expensive. Once a major fishing port, it had 9000 inhabitants in 1900; the present population is about 500. It also suffered earthquake damage in the 1950s, receiving international restoration prizes for the tasteful work done afterward, which conformed to the local architectural character. The ruined Venetain fort on the cliff edge at Ia is a favorite place for many to watch the sunsets (though tourist buses arriving for this purpose have rather ruined the spontaneity). There's a pleasant youth hostel in Ia, with courtyard and breakfast included in the price (even a bar). A Naval Museum is housed in an old mansion. Good value for meals is to be found in the newer part of town.

fiar at nightThe two small harbors below require the descent of 200 steps; both have fish tavernas. Ammoudi is the fishermans' harbor; Armeni is where the excursion boats dock, and there are some houses there. Rooms can be found in the nearby village of Finikia.

The tiny beach of Baxedhes is just north of Ia, and is a quiet place with some good tavernas and reasonable prices. Thirasia islet, with less than daily ferries to it, has 250 inhabitants, who plants tomatoes and beans. Korfos, the little harbor has some tavernas on the beach; there are some rooms in pretty Manolas village up a stepped path. Sights (and sites) on Santorini include the 9th century BC ancient Thira (its ruins, however, Hellenistic and Roman) on the Mesa Vouno headland to which one can walk on a cobbled path from Kamari; the high village of Pyrgos with its neoclassical houses and Venetian castle; large domed churches in Messaria; but especially Akrotiri, at the southwest tip, buried under the hard volcanic tepra that preserved it when the 1600 BC volcano exploded, with no human skeletons found, though its main 20th century Greek excavator killed from a fall while working.

Anafi, the small island about 1 ½ hours by ferry to the east of Thira, has long been a place where people go for secluded beaches, with many camping out on them, though more people show up these days in peak season than before. The island's small Hora has a Venetian castle, some tavernas, a couple of bars, a few rooms , post office and shop. A couple of monasteries on the island make for nice walking destinations, with festivals at both, one at Paskha (Greek Easter), the other on the 7th and 8th of September.