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Fira/Chora: northern sector
A short climb from the centre, following the main pedestrian street, brings you to the (old) Archaeological Museum (open daily 8.30–3, except Mon), close to the cable car terminal. Although there are some prehistoric finds on show, the collection principally exhibits objects of the historic periods from around the island.
The museum looks onto a small square to its north. To the left, the path passes the terminus of the cable car which descends to the old port; the journey takes three minutes. It was built in 1979 by the (Austrian) Doppelmayr company, and was the gift of the Greek shipping magnate and benefactor, Evangelos Nomikos. By continuing past the terminus and climbing up the path which follows the edge of the rim, you come to a large red, neoclassical mansion on a projecting corner, which houses the Petros Nomikos Centre, the creation of another member of the same family. The handsome building dating from the end of the 19th century, was damaged in 1956 and then restored thirty years later according to its original appearance. The complex of tunnels in the rock behind which were cellars for wine-storage, now houses the permanent exhibition of ‘Theran Wall-paintings in Photographic Reproduction’ (open daily 10–9), covering all the paintings so far discovered at Akrotiri, most of whose originals are in Athens. The path continues beyond the building to Firostefani (literally, the ‘crown of Fira’), the attractive and panoramic northern extremity of Chora.
Continuing instead straight ahead (north) from the square in front of the (old) Archaeology Museum, you come to the Venetian, Catholic quarter of Chora. The 18th-century Ghisi Mansion (or Megaro Gyzi), one block to the north, has a fine, vaulted courtyard. It houses a Historical Museum (open daily May–Oct 10.30–1 & 5–8; Sun 10.30–4.30) exhibiting prints and engravings of Santorini from the 17th to the 19th century, and an interesting collection of photographs of the island’s buildings before and after the 1956 earthquake. There is a small collection of paintings and archive material from the Catholic Bishopric. Immediately to the west is the roman Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (1823), now restored to pristine condition after the damage wrought by the earthquake of 1956: its ornate bell-tower is a fine piece of Italianate, Cycladic architecture. Close by are the Dominican Convent of the rosary and the Catholic Bishop’s residence.
Santorini Island is part of the Cyclades Island Group, Greece.