I was fortunate enough to spend a few months on the island of Santorini this year and had the opportunity to really explore the island's history, its unique villages, the myths, and legends that include the energy of the island, therapeutic services, and what makes it a truly special destination.
Santorini's ancient history is a significant part of its modern identity, attracting visitors from around the world who come to explore its archaeological sites, experience its breathtaking vistas, and immerse themselves in the rich cultural heritage of this captivating island.
Santorini is also known by its ancient Greek name, Thira, and is not only an island of natural beauty but also a place steeped in history. Its distinctive crescent shape is the result of a cataclysmic volcanic eruption that occurred around 3,600 years ago. The explosion created a submerged caldera, now surrounded by towering cliffs that reveal the island's geological past. The island has witnessed various civilizations, including the Minoans, Phoenicians, Dorians, Alexander the Great and the Ptolemaic Empire, Romans, and Byzantine Empire, each leaving its mark on Santorini's culture and architecture. However, the most notable historical event is the eruption of the volcano in the 17th century BC, which led to the decline of the Minoan civilization on Crete and left Santorini with its unique topography. Santorini is also known as the legend of the myth of the lost Atlantis.
How to get to Santorini
Santorini is easily accessible by air and sea. The island has an international airport, Santorini Airport (Thira Airport), which receives flights from Athens and major European cities during the tourist season. Additionally, there are frequent ferry services connecting Santorini to Athens' ports, including Piraeus and Rafina, as well as to other Cycladic islands.
What makes Santorini so special?
The Caldera View:
Santorini's unique caldera, created by the volcanic eruption, offers some of the most stunning views in the world. Nestled on top of the geological formation of ash, and mineral-rich soil are the villages of Oia, Fira, Firostefani, and Immerovigli. The traditional Cycladic buildings are perched on top of the imposing cliffs and the terrain is a blend of volcanic mineral-rich colors, that from a distance offer an awe-inspiring view, coupled. with the sight of the sun setting over the caldera, promises a mesmerizing experience.
Romantic Ambiance- the Ultimate Wedding Destination:
With charming villages, breathtaking sunsets, and luxurious resorts, Santorini is often considered one of the world's most romantic destinations, making it a popular choice for weddings, honeymooners, and couples.
The island's rich history and archaeological sites, such as Akrotiri, provide a captivating journey into the past that includes the Minoan civilization that was also on the neighboring island of Crete. Remnants of this civilization have been found at the archeological site of Akrotiri dating as far back as the bronze age, where one can see a glimpse of how life was before the volcanic eruption that decimated life on the island.
Santorini is known for several products and specialties that reflect the island's unique culture, geography, and climate. Due to its rich soil drenched with volcanic minerals, Santorini offers an abundance of local products which include rich flavors from fava beans, capers, the renowned Santorini tomatoes, and wine.
Santorini offers a delightful culinary experience, featuring fresh seafood, local wines, and traditional Greek dishes served in seaside tavernas and fine-dining restaurants. An amazing dining experience for foodies, don’t miss the traditional dishes and wine tasting with appetizers at one of the many vineyards wine-tasting restaurants.
The island's volcanic history has given rise to distinct beaches with black, red, and white sands, each offering a unique coastal experience with breathtaking terrain surrounding the blue sea capturing the eye with its rich colors.
The traditional villages each include quaint picturesque alleyways, traditional homes, and architecture inspired by the cultures that occupied the island throughout history including the Venetian Empire which built 5 fortresses in strategic areas of the island that developed the villages we see today. The villages all offer town squares surrounded by bakeries, cafés, restaurants, and shops and include Oia, Fira, Pyrgos, Akrotiri, the beach towns of Perissa and Kamari, Mesaria, and Megalochori.
Megaloxori village is worth noting because it has kept its traditional character throughout, with two beautiful bell tower churches, stone alleyways, traditional cafes, and taverns.
The village is known as the vineyard village and the name
“Megalochori” translates to Big Village, however, it does not refer to the size of the village but the intellectual minds of the village that lived there throughout the ages. The village has a cultural aspect and has been promoting art and music until today.
One can learn pottery making at one of the local pottery shops or learn about mythology and the Apollonian Lyre at the Cultural Center Symposium. The owners Argy and her husband musician, Yianni Pantazis, offer classes daily and teach making ancient Greek instruments, curate art exhibits, and music concerts. Megalochori offers an array of experiences, but most of all an example of the real Santorini.
Energy & Healing Island:
One thing I discovered during my stay in Santorini was that the island seemed to have a unique “energy” and vibe, some found it soothing and others “unnerving”, known by the locals as the soul of the island- the volcano that lies dormant under the island. One other thing that stood out to me was that there were many alternative therapies that are offered by many hotels and practitioners who visited and stayed on the island. One can enjoy spas and sound baths, massages, and wellness centers, which include the first BioregenerativeClinic in Greece, the impressive Zoe Clinic in Oia. Zoe Clinics boasts innovative therapeutic treatments for deep cellular and aesthetic regeneration for the maintenance of health and anti-aging inside and out. Clients flock from all around the world to take advantage of detox and regeneration while enjoying the impeccable beauty and vacation on the island.
Things to do:
Archeological sites and museums, Lost Atlantis interactive experience, Wine Tours, horseback riding, pottery making, swimming, extreme sports, hiking, archeological tours, bicycle tours, village festivals, art exhibits, music festivals, Spas, Therapeutic treatments, and just sitting back and taking in the breathtaking view and legendary sunset.
There you have it, Santorini's captivating blend of natural beauty, history, and culture makes it a must-visit destination for travelers seeking a taste of paradise in the heart of the Aegean Sea. Whether you're drawn to its stunning sunsets, archaeological wonders, romantic ambiance, or therapeutic treatments, Santorini is sure to leave an indelible mark on your heart and soul, bringing you back throughout time to restore and energize you.