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Pyrgos and Profitis Elias
A newly-built road leads directly south from Chora, along the ridge of the pumice quarries towards Megalochori. As it begins to climb, the silhouette of Pyrgos can be seen to the southeast against the slopes of Mount Prophitis Elias; at 3.5km, a road leads east to the village. It is built in the classic manner of the Cycladic fortified settlement in which a ring of houses, whose outer-facing walls join to form the outer defensive enceinte, surrounds a central hilltop fortress: at Pyrgos, several almost concentric rings of streets ascend the hill in the space between, creating an interesting and attractive ensemble. The four surviving castles on the island, at oia, Skaros, Akrotiri, and Pyrgos, appear to have been created as a planned, interconnected unity, designed to survey and defend both the approaches to the island as well as its cultivable terrain; all are constructed in the same rough volcanic rock bound in pozzolana mortar. Pyrgos is the largest of them all and constituted the principal residence of the rulers and the island’s capital after the abandonment of Skaros. The church of the Koimisis (the Dormition) on the western slope of the town, may originally predate the Venetian arrival in 1207, suggesting that there was a Byzantine settlement here before: there are Byzantine and ancient
spolia incorporated in its exterior walls. At the summit, is the 17th-century church of the Eisodiatis Theotokou (the Presentation of the Virgin). Just below, one of the island’s largest neoclassical mansions has been restored; it has the characteristic, high attic and mezzaluna above the door to maximise a cooling, natural ventilation. The restored church of Aghia Triada houses a small Icon Collection (open daily 10–4, Orthodox Easter–Oct). The icons date from the 16th to 19th centuries and include works by the Skordilis workshop on Milos. There are also other ecclesiastical items on display which were salvaged from churches in the aftermath of the 1956 earthquake.
Below the summit of the mountain (567m), reached by following through Pyrgos and continuing to the south, is the Monastery of Prophitis Elias (9km), founded in 1711 and extensively restored after 1956. The monastery was home to an important ‘hidden school’ in the first half of the 19th century, keeping alive the teaching of Greek language and traditional religious and secular culture during the last years of Turkish occupation. The beauty of the panoramic position has been compromised by the quantity of telecommunications hardware at the summit of the mountain.
Santorini Island is part of the Cyclades Island Group, 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
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
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
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