Santorini Attractions

Although many visitors now come to Santorin by air, the approach by sea, entering the crater from the northwest, is an experience which should not be missed. After passing the gentle green slopes on the outside of the island the boat enters the huge central basin, almost totally enclosed by sheer rock walls.

Oia, Greece

At the northern tip of the main island of Santorin (Santorini), clinging to the rim of the crater, is Ía (Oia), a trim little town of whitewashed houses that until WWII was the island's economic and commercial center. Steep paths zigzag up the wall of the crater to the town from Ammoúdi Bay, to the west, and the little harbor of Áyios Nikólaos, to the south. The basin is closed off by the island of Thirasía (on the right) and the southwestern tip of Thíra, visible in the distance beyond the Kaiméni islands.


Firá / Thíra is the principle tourist town on Santorini, with white homes and terraces, and blue domed churches perched on the hillside looking out over the sea.

Ancient Théra

Ancient TheraAncient Thera
Ancient Théra, once the capital of the island, shows the original Hellenistic layout. Visitors can see the remains of temples and other structures.

Akrotiri, Greece

Near the village of Akrotíri, 12 km/7.5 mi southwest of Firá, the Greek archeologist Spyridon Marinatos brought to light between 1967 and his death in 1974 considerable areas of a large town destroyed in the great eruption. The buildings date from the 16th century B.C. and show evidence of the earthquake damage which preceded the final catastrophe (e.g. displaced walls which were held in place by the pumice sand deposited by the erupting volcano). Combined with the fact that some of the buildings were of two or three storys, this created great problems of excavation and conservation. Indeed, Marinatos himself was killed during the excavation work and is buried in a building opposite the spot where the accident occurred.
Entering the site (which is roofed over for protection from the weather) on the south side, we pass between houses which have been preserved to first- and second-floor level. Going north along Odós Telkhinon, we come to a triangular space, on the far side of which is the West House. This contained many frescoes (at present in the National Archeological Museum in Athens), including a representation of a naval expedition and a well-preserved painting of a naked youth carrying bunches of fish. In the northernmost house are a number of jars for the storage of food. Returning south, we pass a house with a staircase leading up to the first floor, with steps broken by an earth tremor, and a large complex with a small room (No. 2) in which the "Spring Fresco" was found.
On the principal buildings in this second Pompeii, which is 1,600 years older than the Italian Pompeii and will keep archeologists busy for years to come, are plans and explanations for the benefit of visitors.
On the way back from Akrotíri to Firá a detour can be made (turning right at a junction 2 km/1.25 mi from Akrotíri) to the chapel of Áyios Stéfanos, set amid trees on the site of an ancient temple, and beyond this to the little seaside resort of Períssa (bathing beach).
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