SANTORINI- GREECE

Arguably Greece’s most beautiful island, Santorini is a mix of towering cliffs, inky waters and whitewashed villages. Perfect for a post-summer break. By R. Caligaris

Santorini, also known as Thera, is widely considered to be Greece’s most spectacular island. Thousands of tourists come every year to gape at the caldera of this volcano, a vestige of what was probably the world’s largest volcanic eruption ever.

This eruption which occurred sometime around 1450 B.C., caused the middle of the volcano to sink, leaving a caldera of high cliffs, one of the world’s most dramatic geographic spectacles. There is a theory, one that has fired the imagination of writers, artists and mystics since ancient times that postulates that the island was part of the lost continent of Atlantis. 

This eruption which occurred sometime around 1450 B.C., caused the middle of the volcano to sink, leaving a caldera of high cliffs, one of the world’s most dramatic geographic spectacles. There is a theory, one that has fired the imagination of writers, artists and mystics since ancient times that postulates that the island was part of the lost continent of Atlantis. 

Santorini is no secret and draws crowds for most of the year, yet it wears its tourism well and its offerings make it worth the bustle. The island’s intrigue reaches deep into the past, with the fascinating Minoan site of Akrotiri and the gorgeous traditional hilltop village of Oia. It also glides effortlessly into the future with accomplished artists, excellent wineries, a unique brewery, and some of the Cyclades finest dining experiences. The sandy, multicolored beaches are simply the icing on the cake.

Santorini is no secret and draws crowds for most of the year, yet it wears its tourism well and its offerings make it worth the bustle. The island’s intrigue reaches deep into the past, with the fascinating Minoan site of Akrotiri and the gorgeous traditional hilltop village of Oia. It also glides effortlessly into the future with accomplished artists, excellent wineries, a unique brewery, and some of the Cyclades finest dining experiences. The sandy, multicolored beaches are simply the icing on the cake.

ANCIENT THIRA

First settled by the Dorians in the 9th century B.C., Ancient Thira consists of Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine ruins and is an atmospheric and rewarding site to visit. The ruins include temples, houses with mosaics, an agora (market), a theatre and a gymnasium. There are splendid views from the site. From March to October, Ancient Thira Tours runs a bus every hour from 9am until 2pm, except on Monday, from Kamari to the site. If driving, take the surfaced but narrow, winding road from Kamari for just over one mile.

First settled by the Dorians in the 9th century B.C., Ancient Thira consists of Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine ruins and is an atmospheric and rewarding site to visit. The ruins include temples, houses with mosaics, an agora (market), a theatre and a gymnasium. There are splendid views from the site. From March to October, Ancient Thira Tours runs a bus every hour from 9am until 2pm, except on Monday, from Kamari to the site. If driving, take the surfaced but narrow, winding road from Kamari for just over one mile.

MUSEUM OF PREHISTORIC THIRA
The name may conjure up the idea of cavemen, but nothing could be farther from the truth. This modern museum is filled with amazing Bronze Age objects from the buried town of Akrotiri and other places on the island of Santorini. Both the Cycladic Island culture and the ancient Minoans are represented here.
 

OIA CASTLE
Just like the rest of the Cycladic islands, Oia attracted the interest of the Venetians, who expertised in naval activities, as a fertile place for trading business. They conquered Santorini and built five castles on it; the Castle of Skaros (Imerovigli) where the Latin Giacomo Barozzi settled with his family and other nobles, the Castle of Pyrgos, the Castle of Emboreion and Saint Nikolas Castle. Nowadays, just a few piecesof this fortification can be seen in Oia, as most of it was destroyed due to the earthquake (1956).

NEA KAMENI ISLAND
Nea Kameni Island, in the middle of the flooded caldera, is one of the most violent volcanoes on the planet; it is also, of course, one of the contested sites for the lost city of Atlantis. The eruption that destroyed most of Santorini 3,600 years ago produced tsunamis that reached as
far as Turkey and probably wiped out maritime Minoan civilization.

OIA
Santorini’s star - its most attractive village, Oia, is the ultimate Greek Island village - all white houses and domed churches tumbling over the lip of the caldera. The town must be one of the most magnificent hotel settings on Earth, with its converted peasant houses on the very edge of the crater and spectacular sunsets that draw coach parties from across the island.

MOUSSAKA
Moussaka is a casserole made by layering eggplant with a spiced meat filling, then topping it off with a creamy béchamel sauce that is baked to golden perfection. It is perhaps the most widely recognized of all Greek dishes and was made famous by the legendary Greek chef, Nicholas Tselementes.

KEFTEDES
Keftedes are Greek meatballs made with herbs and onions. The Greek word keftes, derived the Turkish word kofte meaning meatball. Keftedes may be one of the best Greek appetizers around. They are little round meatballs served with sauces like Tzatziki and not what you might be used to seeing with meatballs and pasta. One of the things that really stand out about Keftedes is that since is made of meat and spices,you really get to taste all the ingredients used.

BOUGATSA
It is said to originate in Serres, in the Macedonia region of northern Greece and is especially popular in the northern Greek port of Thessaloniki. Bougatsa is, arguably, one of Greece’s greatest gifts to the culinary world. Layers of buttered filo encase a sweet semolina custard, which is baked into a golden flaky pie. Dusted with icing, sugar and cinnamon, it’s the perfect accompanimentto, well, just about anything. svm

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