Santorini Island, Cyclades, Greece


The town of Fira, Santorini Island, Greece, clings to the top of the hill in the center of the island; it is reached from the harbor, below, by a cable car, a donkey ride, or climbing 850 stairs


Stunning Santotini Island, Greece, is known by many names – classically Thera/now Thira, “the Wild Island”; Kalliste, “the Fairest One” – terms of endearment for an enchanting, seductive gem that is the southernmost member of the Cyclades group of islands.  Born of a violent eruption thousands of years ago, Santorini’s volcanic origins are very much in evidence today.  Two small islands in the caldera (including Nea Kameni in front of which our ship “anchored”) grew in size as recently as 1950, the time of the most recent eruption.  The island’s dramatic striated cliffs and black sand beaches are further evidence of its volcanic origins.



Our ship was “anchored”* in Athinios Bay between Fira and the young volcanic island of Nea Kameni, Fira, Santorini Island, Greece; * because the caldera water is so deep, ships can’t drop anchor – instead, they use engine power to stay in place


The town of Fira provided tender service to our ship to the harbor, from which we took the cable car (a three minute ride) – when very large ships are in the harbor the lines are long, notwithstanding the cable car system’s capacity of 1,200 people per hour.  Fira is the main town with a tremendous number of shops, cafes, restaurants and hotels, along with the Catholic Cathedral and Greek Orthodox Cathedral and many Greek Orthodox churches (with the Santorini blue domes).



Looking north from Fira to Oia on the northern tip of Santorini Island, Greece


We also visited Oia, a picturesque village known for its quality shopping.  Its white houses, domed churches, and spectacular sunsets are part of its famous charm.  We enjoyed a colorful sunset from the roof terrace of 1800 Restaurant that we enjoyed with friends from the ship.  For two days we went out on a motorized 40-foot catamaran sailboat to explore the caldera, enjoy snorkeling, swimming in the volcanic hot spring that flowed into the bay from Nea Kameni, and good meals aboard.  The sunset on the second cruise was one of the most spectacular we have ever watched.



A picturesque bell tower on a church in the center of Oia, Santorini Island, Greece



In the late afternoon the sea view is partially obscured by the moisture that accumulates, Oia, Santorini Island, Greece



The largest Greek Orthodox Church in Oia, Santorini Island, Greece, with beige (rather than the typical white) walls and a blue dome



A close up of the beige Greek Orthodox Church, Oia, Santorini Island, Greece



The lounge of a small hotel in Oia, Santorini Island, Greece, overlooking the caldera bay



A white painted church with a large (six bells) belfry and blue cupola, Oia, Santorini Island, Greece



A church with a three bell belfry, Oia, Santorini Island, Greece



Only the top of this church was visible from the main shopping street, as it was built into the hillside of Oia, Santorini Island, Greece


This church had much more angular lines than the traditional round/curvy church, Oia, Santorini Island, Greece




Many people head to the tip of Oia, Santorini Island, Greece, well in advance of sunset in order to have their “spot” to celebrate the colorful Santorini sunset


There is a lot of speculation that the major volcanic eruption 3,600 years ago at the height of the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete, nearby, destroyed much of Santorini which is the source of the legend of the lost city of Atlantis.



A Greek flag and belfry photographed just before sunset, Oia, Santorini Island, Greece


7 thoughts on “Santorini Island, Cyclades, Greece

  1. Rich and Robin – I know you are both supporters of the Oakland Museum. Use to see Rich leading tours for groups of his friends. Did you know that Architect Kevin Roche patterned his museum plan after the architecture of Santorini. A terraced affair with the roof of one gallery forming the garden for the gallery above. Since he needed a hillside, the built the garage on Oak Street to become his hillside. You probably knew this, but just want to make sure. ron


    • Thanks for the interesting background on architect Kevin Roche’s design for the OMCA (Oakland Museum of California). I had always heard that there was some inspiration from the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, but didn’t know about the terracing. Note that on Crete — a port after Santorini — the 3,700 year-old Palace of Knossos was also terraced and set on a hillside, with the world’s first “theater” (used more for religious rites than for what we today consider “performance” works) taking advantage of the slope of the site (the steps are the seats). It’s very interesting to see the various sources of inspiration, extending concepts and outright copying in art and architecture!


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