Spectacular Santorini

First time I saw the caldera was a summer night  in 1972. 
More than 12 hours after sailing from Piraeus,the old passenger ship arrived at the small Athinio harbor of Santorini. It was too dark to see anything. I remember hanging for dear life at the back of an open truck negotiating the steep winding one lane road to the top.
The next morning I saw the black and red cliffs of  Santorini ,queen of Cyclades and most spectacular of the islands of the Aegean Sea.
And I was thunderstruck!

Kameni as seen from the top of the Caldera cliffs.

Santorini,some 40 years ago was not yet developed as it is nowadays. We spend a wonderful summer in a small house near the beach in Kamari,with petrol lamps at night and a donkey who loved to spend his afternoons in the living room (can't argue with a donkey...)
Rumor had it among the villagers,that an archaeologist from Athens was excavating for some years at a site called Akrotiri-Cape-where he hoped to find a very ancient city covered by volcanic ash.

The black sanded beach in Kamari,at the outer rim of the island where all the nice beaches are.

Santorini is the crater of a powerful underwater volcano which erupted 3.600 years ago. The island was originally round with a volcano in the middle.When it erupted, sea water rushed into the crater and created the caldera. 
The explosion was one of the three strongest in human history, creating a tsunami and an ash cloud that devastated Eastern Mediterranean. 
Today -right in the middle of the caldera -the volcano,still alive, has created a small lava island-Kameni- which is slowly becoming larger.

Detail of one of the frescoes of Akrotiri. A celebration . Boats sail among dolphins,a large city and a river or canal can be seen. At the top stags run chased by a panther.

The plus magic of Santorini is that-the late- Professor Marinatos did find his city!!!!
Α very large, splendid and highly civilized complex of two and three storied houses,paved streets,a complete sewerage and drainage system and a twin water supply network-one for hot and one for cold water!!(we are talking about 3000-1614 BC :0  the hot water,so say the experts,might have come from geothermic hot springs ).
It was a wealthy and sophisticated society of farmers, fishermen, merchants, artists,potters and weavers, who loved to travel and trade and decorated their homes with stunning frescoes. The cultural influence of the wealthy and powerful Minoan Crete,ruler of Eastern Med at the time, is evident. 

Only the southern part ,that is only 3% of Akrotiri has so far been excavated.
It will take decades to complete the study.
For years the exact date of the eruption was debated.A few years ago a Danish University's carbon isotope analysis of a petrified olive tree found in the excavations, pinpointed the date at 1613 or 1614 BC.
It was late Spring /early Summer -in the ash they found olive tree pollen-and the inhabitants must have been forewarned either by a smaller eruption or an earthquake,or both.
Unlike Pompeii, so far no human or animal remains were found, no items of any value were left , except one small golden figurine of a wild goat. It seems the people took to their ships and fled, but we will never know if they escaped the tsunami too.

Like Minoan Cretans,the artists in Akrotiri had a passion with marine life and all kinds of animals.
It's been a widely spread theory among archaeologists ,that the lost civilization of Santorini had inspired Plato to tell the story of Atlantis. Atlantis too-some say- was an exceptionally advanced society, a round island state ,with a canal. Like ancient Santorini it was destroyed and sunk beneath the sea etc etc...but we will never know for sure if good old Santorini is the mythical place after all.

One of the most intriguing frescoes:Blue monkeys climbing on rocks.

Sadly,the special cover,build in 2004 to protect the excavations collapsed under heavy rains. But,I found out that the new cover is   already in place and in a year or so the site will open again for visitors!!

Now,this is a pool after my own heart ;]
Santorini is now easy to reach by fast ferries and plane, fully developed and dedicated to tourists. It's full of 5+ star hotels and spas or modest low budget rooms to let, uber romantic restaurants,bars and clubs of all kinds, beaches and sea sports and crowds of people having fun.
Best of times May,June,September,when you can have the place to yourself...well,almost.
It is the most beautiful and awesome of Greek islands...but I'm more intrigued by what lies beneath hundreds of meters of lava...what more will we learn about the people who lived and loved in this small piece of land since 3.000 BC...*sigh*  I wish I had studied archaeology. I should be down there digging!!!


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  2. Δεν υπάρχει μέρος στην Ελλάδα που να μην έχει τη δική του χάρη, το δικό του χαρακτήρα, τη δική του ενέργεια, τη μοναδική του ομορφιά και αίγλη... Α ρε, πού ζούμε και πώς τα κάναμε έτσι;;; Καλημέρες από Σίφνο, με πολύ ήλιο, ζέστη και το καλοκαίρι να έρχεται! Επιτέλους!!!

  3. Lucky you to have been in Pompeii! I love Italy,but have only been to Rome,Venice and Milan.One day we will visit Naples and Pompeii!!
    While in Rome,I couldn't get myself to enter the Colisseum. It was so negatively charged by so many people's and animals's deaths,it freaked me. But we took some nice pictures from the outside ;]
    When I mentioned earlier that you inspire me ,I was right.I will post soon about Delphi.The place is soooo ancient and sooo interesting.And the sheer power of it is unbelievable!!

  4. Φορτωμένη ιστορία τούτη η γωνιά,βαρυ φορτίο για κακομαθημένους σαν κι εμάς.Θα την βρούμε την άκρη,όμως.Φιλάκια πολλά.

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  6. Fascinating blog, and great photos. Another place I would like to visit...one day :p x

  7. Thanks! Santorini will be there,waiting for you :]] xx