(Metropolis Church in Chora = 0.00km for distances in text)

Fira: southern sector and the Museum of PrehistoricThera
Fira/Chora stretches to either side of a main, cobbled alley which follows the summit of the central eastern ridge of the caldera from south to north. To the east are the newer buildings, on the gentler slope; to the west are the older parts of the town, cut into the volcanic deposit on ledges overlooking the caldera below from a height of 230m. The southern end of the settlement is dominated by the church of the Panaghia Ypapantis (the Purifica tion of the Virgin) which is the Metropolis or orthodox cathedral of Santorini, rebuilt after its predecessor was destroyed in the earthquake of 1956. The earthquake wrought widespread damage to most of the buildings in Chora and oia: the attractive churches down the slope to the west—the (originally 15th-century) Aghios Minas to the south, the 17th-century Aghios Ioannis Theologos, settled securely into the cliff directly below, and the 19th century church of Aghia Irini further to the north—all had to be rebuilt at that time. Their succession of steep cupolas against the sweep of the caldera has become one of the most famous images of the island. There are also several examples of older, traditional houses on the panoramic west slope. They are cut back into the soft de posit of tephra which caps the island at this point, their rooms excavated into the cliffside and roofed always with a vaulted ceiling: the volcanic ‘rock’ hardens when cut and exposed, and the form of the vault ensures against col lapse. This was a more practical method of creating living-spaces than sinking foundations into the soft tephra for erecting buildings above ground. Fira is also particularly exposed to winds in the winter, and the troglodyte dwellings are windproof and warm, even if they do not allow easily for fireplaces. External ovens in the small yard in front of the entrance were a frequent feature, and heating in the interior generally had to be effected by braziers.

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

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