SANTORINI



redline

Santorini - The volcanic caldera - general

The layout
The panoramic parapet just opposite the church of the Metropolis in Chora is a good vantage point for comprehending the nature of the volcanic caldera of Santorini. The caldera is the physical incarnation of the island’s history. It extends below and to the west, covering an area of around eighty five square kilometres, surrounded by a broken, roughly elliptical rim. You are standing on its eastern edge at a height of c. 250m above sea level; it sweeps slowly round in two arms to north and south, and its fragmented western rim is formed by the island of Therasi­a across the water to the west and the small, steep rock of Aspronisi, visible just to the south of due west in the middle of the breach between the southern tip of Therasi­a and the western end of Santorini. These landmarks describe the contour of the vast crater which is now filled by the sea, whose surface hides water-depths of as much as 400m. In the centre of the area, two (relatively new) land masses of up-thrust magma have appeared— the islets of Palaia and nea Kameni—which from this angle appear as one low, deserted island of black rock. This whole desolate and beautiful scene is the remnant of what was probably the largest volcanic explosion in human history. The island was in all probability once a mountainous, roughly circular land mass, similar in shape and size to Ios : but violent volcanic activity over many millennia prior to the final eruption in Minoan times had already given rise to a collapse of the central cone, allowing the sea to pour in through a massive breach to the west and creating a central, water-filled caldera. The final eruption, in historic times in the middle of the second millennium BC ejected almost sixty cubic kilometres of incandescent pumice and ash into the atmosphere, and left the outlines and the island-form that we see today.
   The depth of the water immediately below the cliffs is so great that it does not permit boats to anchor: they have to tie-up to floating buoys instead, which are chained to the floor of the sea at a depth of nearly 200m. The floor of the caldera lies generally between 200m and 400m be low sea level, reaching its deepest points to the north and east of Aspronisi, and directly west and below the crest at Imerovi­gli where the dry land rises in a cliff to 320m: this represents a total drop between clifftop and seabed of over 700m.
   The black and barren islands of the Ka[i]meni (meaning burnt) in the centre of the caldera are the result of the slow and continuing up-thrust of solidified magma. They first appeared in the 2nd century bc, and have grown in circumference, subsided, partially disappeared, re-appeared, split and joined in a constant ballet of movement over the centuries. They represent the focus and dome of the active volcano today, and are currently growing in height and size by a slow process of extrusion from below.


Santorini Island is part of the Cyclades Island Group, Greece.


access

Santorini Island, Greece.

By air: Santorini is wellconnected with four daily flights to Athens with both Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines, and three to Thessaloniki with Aegean. Aegean also operates a once-weekly direct flight to and from Milan and Rome, from July to September. The airport takes large aircraft, and is four and a half kilometres from Chora.
By boat: At Santorini the (new) ferry port (Athiniós) is seven and a half kilometres from Chora. There are generally two or three daily boat connections to Piraeus, taking nine hours by car-ferry and five hours by high-speed vessel; most stop at Paros and/or Naxos en route.
There are links to Anaphi, Folegandros, Sikinos and Ios , and with Crete, five or six times weekly (these drop to twice-weekly in the winter).
There are direct links to Milos twice-weekly throughout the year.
Boats for Therasia leave from the port of Oia at Amoudi (12 km from Chora), daily at 8 am and midday, to Riva. A connecting local bus to Potamos and Manolas (Chora) – 10 mins. Sometimes the boat route includes Korfos harbour, directly below Manolas, in addition to Riva

Santorini Travel Guide

eating

Santorini Island, Greece.

Between the twin traps of the expensively pretentious and the indifferently touristic, there are still a few good places to eat on Santorini.
Ta Delphinia the water’s edge in the Bay of Akrotiri is a family run fish-taverna, which largely serves its own catch of fish accompanied by its own local wine (from March to August), and an array of traditional mezés, which include a delicious Santorinian fava and tomatokeftedes. The taverna Aktaion (often known as ‘Roussos’) at the very beginning of Firostefáni (as you arrive by foot from Chora), though small, serves local food, including a good prassopitta – a pie made with mixed greens and leeks.
50m north of it, is the best and most genuine Italian eatery in the Aegean (run by Italians), called Il Cantuccio. For a more highly-wrought cuisine, still based on Greek ingredients, Selene at the southern extremity of Chora offers peace and a beautiful view in addition to some interesting dishes.
Franco’s Bar in Chora merits mention as a historic institution: one of the first bars of the 1970’s on Santorini, it still serves (expensive, but wellprepared) cocktails to the accompaniment of classical music, in front of one of the most dramatic sunsets in Europe.
On Therasia, Taverna Panorama in Manolas, at the top of the steps from the harbour of Korfos, has an excellent view, passable food, but wayward prices.

Santorini Travel Guide

further reading

Santorini Island, Greece.

Ferdinand Fouqué, whose book Santorini et Ses Eruptions was first published in French in 1879, and reissued in an English translation by Alexander McBirney in 1999 by Johns Hopkins university Press, is the first comprehensive study of the island’s geology and volcanic history. J.V. Luce, The End of Atlantis (first published by Thames & Hudson, London, 1969; reprinted by Efstathiadis & Sons, Athens, 1982) is indebted to Fouqué, but follows the theme of Plato’s legend of Atlantis and its relation to Santorini. Nanno Marinatos, in Art & Religion in Thera: Reconstructing a Bronze Age Society (Athens, 1984) lays out a clear and cogent explanation of the paintings from Akrotiri. The Wall Paintings of Thera (Athens, 1992) by Christos Doumas,the current head of excavations at Akrotiri, is also authoritative and clear on the subject – as are all his many excellent articles and writings on Theran matters. For the lat est debate on the dating of the eruption of Thera, see: Acts of the Minoan Eruption Chronology Workshop in Sandjberg, Denmark in november 2007, published by the Danish Institute in Athens in 2009 as Time’s Up! Dating the Minoan Eruption of Santorini.

Santorini Travel Guide

lodging

Santorini Island, Greece.

On Santorini, the Kavalari Hotel (T.22860 22347, fax 22603, www.kavalari.com) is one of the older hotels on the island, centrally placed, with magnificent views, created from traditional Santorinian houses cut into the native lava at the top of the cliff above the caldera. It is simple, friendly, unpretentious, and beautiful: there is no elevator, however, and the rooms are reached down precipitous flights of steps.
For greater ease of access (also near the Metropolitan Church) is the Theoxenia Hotel (T.22860 22740, fax 22950, www.theoxenia.net): panoramic and very pleasant, with a good breakfast served in the rooms. The island’s oldest hotel, the Atlantis (T.22860 22111, fax 22821, www.atlantishotel. gr) is practical, straightforward, welcoming and superbly sited; it is one of Santorini: practical informati on 97 the few hotels open all year round.
The Aressana Hotel (T.22860 22860, fax 23902, www.aressana.gr), opposite the Atlantis, is also comfortably appointed and convenient. On one of the highest points of the cliff, with views directly over the caldera, Anteliz Apartments Hotel (T.22860 28842, fax 28843, www. anteliz.gr) is modern and attractive, with spacious rooms and a pool. For ‘boutique chic’, Homeric Poems (T.22860 24661, fax 24660; www.homericpoems. gr) offers a luxurious and rarified atmosphere.Oia is generally more tranquil than Chora; it also has the most delightful place to stay on the island – Chelidonia Villas (T.22860 71827, fax 71649, www. chelidonia.com),which combines simplicity with good taste, friendliness and a perfect position (T.22860 71827, fax 71649, www. chelidonia.com), which combines simplicity with good taste, friendliness and a perfect position. On Therasia there are rooms to rent at Zacharo, just above Manolas to the south, T.22860 29102.

Santorini Travel Guide

Book your Trip to Greece

ferry

advertisements