Hotels

Oia

Imerovigli

Fira

Firostefani

Villages

The island which is always featured in the top landscapes of the world

The Kallisti history of human

Nobody can stay calm against of Santorini. The poets who have the skill to see behind the huge curtain of cliffs, like George Seferis, write:

We found ourselves naked
on the pumice stone
watching the rising islands
watching the red islands
sink into their sleep,
into our sleep.
(“Santorini”, Gymnopaidia)

All the mysteries of Santorini emerge from its colors. The intensity comes from the dark colors of Caldera, the beaches and islands, while the calmness comes from the sweet colors of the wall paintings of Akrotiri. This calmness exists in the hinterland of Caldera, where the petite summer fades away the tension between the alleys of the villages, such as Pyrgos, Vothonas, Finikia, the vines in Akrotiri, Emporio, Messaria, Vourvoulos, and at the beaches – Perivolos, Monolithos, Coloumbos, Baxedes – which have bottoms of black pebbles that shine under the sun that stands above everything and is glorified at the edge of Oia during the time that it dives into the sea ritually, as a kind of rite for the crowd watching and applauding him.
This stone crescent in the last of Cyclades”, wrote Marios Ploritis who had blood ties with the island, “as if it summarizes the history of human, from its primitive footsteps to the creation of the first organized settlements, from the crossing of the ancient and newer cultures until their fall from today’s “fake” settlements.

A different approach from the south
The murals of ancient Thira derive their subjects from the real and imaginary world of the East: exotic landscapes, monkeys, antelopes, lions, wild cats, the griffin. But on its pottery are painted the influences and exchanges with Crete. Then, this road coming from the south was crowded because of the trade in the Eastern Mediterranean. Now it is empty and lonely. Only “Preveli” of ANEK Lines (tel. 210 4197.400) travels to the most desolated part of the Aegean, the Carpathian and the Cretan Sea, reaching Santorini via the small Anafi, from Heraklion of Crete and the Dedecanese, Rhodes, Halki, Karpathos, and Kasos. This travel is a special experience. Through the bleakness, in the light of the sun or the moon, comes into sight Kalamos, the highest rock in the Mediterranean, after Gibraltar. And then, in the port of Anafi you are standing on the boat’s deck, surrounded by mountains and the white crown of Chora on the ridge. And this is the best prelude to Santorini’s landscape, which will follow...

A Santorini-an “village
The perfect starting point for exploring Santorini behind the Caldera, is located on the east coast, in the vicinity of Vouvoula, around 4 km from Fira, around the church of Saint Artemios with the unique for the island blue dome. There, Artemis Bellonias has created an accommodation perfectly matched with his view about the authentic side of Santorini. The feast house, the rooms of the priest’s pilgrims, the stable, all caved or not, have become accommodation, restaurant, buffet, cultural events facilities. It’s like a small village, completely white with pool and tennis court, all rigged against the sun rising from the sea. The traditional accommodations “Agios Artemios” (tel. 6944969869, aghiosartemios.gr) belong to the Guest inn (guestinn.com) network.

Wine: The land’s “blood”
The main body of Santorini, the hinterland, is traversed by the roads of wine. In Vothonas, we browse the kanava (winery) of Roula Bellonia and turn a few decades back, when villages were full of tiny wineries, near the houses, as it happens in the great vineyards of Europe, Burgundy and Rhone. This was the ending of a history and a tradition of around 3000 years, as that’s when the roads of wine came in Santorini. Perhaps it’s the oldest and most historical vineyard of Europe. If you overlook the urban sprawl and focus with your field of vision on vineyards only, the image you will see will be the same as 1000 years before.
All these are revealed to us by a real winemaker, Paris Sigalas, in his accessible winery on the road to Finikia. “We can say that it’s a vineyard of world heritage”, says and adds: “This is the demand of all of us winemakers, to become protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site”. Thus the vineyard will somehow guarantee the high level of tourism in Santorini, as in Tuscany and Alsace. If it doesn’t become protected, the island will degrade into lower-quality tourism and then “it will be a complete destruction of our dream”, says Paris Sigalas.
As for the wine itself, Paris Sigalas characterizes it really great, and that it has its own identity and expresses the land of production. They are recognized again internationally, as it happened again very long ago. Indeed, as he says, especially in USA the wine of Santorini is the most recognized Greek wine. Thus, the island has already begun to represent an enological destination, but first a “quality mark” of wine should be set in all of its components, such as restaurants.

Akrotiri - wall painting with the flowers
At the incredible museum of Prehistoric Thira in Fira is displayed the wall painting with the flowers, where professor Spiros Marinatos identified “Pagkration”, the sea crinoid, that was located in the house of females in Akrotiri. This is one of the most imposing wall paintings that are displayed in the museum, between multitudes of memorabilia from the prosperity of the town of 17th century BC, and was maintained almost intact, covered by volcanic ash. Other wall paintings are those of the Females and the Blue Monkeys, while wall paintings from Akrotiri, like the young fishermen or the swallows, are displayed in the Archaeological Museum of Athens.

The visitor will unsderstand nothing from Santorini and the Aegean, if he doesn’t browse the Museum of Prehistorical Thira and goes out of Fira on the road to Akrotiri village and the archaeological site. The digger of Akrotiri, Professor Christos Ntoumas, concludes: “For many of the achievements of the human brain that were later systemized by the pre-socratic philosophers of Ionia their origination should be searched to the early seamen, the islanders”.

From Fira the road leads to the edge of Caldera. At the height of the mines and the association’s winery, before the spectacular descent to Athinios port, the view towards Caldera, Nea Kameni, Palia Kameni and the parked cruise ships is fantastic. After that is Megalochori (5km from Fira) and 2 km later the right turn leads to Akrotiri village (3 km). At the village’s end, the road to the left goes down to the archaeological site (2 km) and eventually leads to the sea, from where one can go to the famous Red Beach. A whole town of two or even three story buildings and small squares is spread under the new bioclimatic shelter. Just visualize that fact that 12 acres and about 35-40 buildings are disclosed, from which only 5 of them are fully investigated. The town is indeed much bigger, but on its minimal part that the archaeological digging tools have touched, perhaps the 1/300 of its total area, thousands of decorated vases and hundreds of meters of exceptional art wall paintings were found.

Cultures convergence point
Alekos Fasianos wrote that people who lived in those unreal wall paintings should have been happy. He also said that prehistoric artists practiced social painting, because they preferred to visualize the everyday life rather than painting imaginary gods. The painter presented at this year’s summer projects of him in the new art gallery “Crater” in Oia, along with Giorgos Stathopoulos and Apostolos Chantzaras. “Crater” added quality to the already existing, rich, colorful and artistic scenery on the island.
Painter Christopher Asimis and sculptor Eleni Kolaiti work on the island since a long time. Their art works are traveling into the bright light of the new exhibition space created by them just outside Fira, above the main road to Athinios. Their son, Katonas Asimis, also displays his works there. Christopher Asimis, who has also painted the cathedral of Fira, comments about the landscape of Santorini from an artist’s point of view: “The island was created from a geological wonder and is many things together, magnificent and three-dimensional. But the most fascinating thing for an artist is the light. This is what masterfully describes the things, with simplicity and purity. This makes colorfulness not a necessary thing”.
In Kasteli of Akrotiri village have been established musician and instrument maker John Pantazis from Grevena, and historian Artzi Kakisi from New York. The sound of wind instruments produced and played by John can be heard from the Venetian tower of the 13th century. Nobody can imagine the kind of music that is produced by the goat horn or the Bourou, nor the double flute of god Pan, if he doesn’t watch his show first, at the noon or the afternoon. Visitors can also watch the exhibition of the traditional bagpipe - a honor to the traditional musicians and manufacturers of the Aegean - and enjoy a traditional treat on the balkony of the tower, overlooking Caldera and the ancient vineyard. Old canavas - wine presses of grapes and the aging cellars of wine - are very atmospheric places for exhibitions and other artistic events. In such canava, in Exo Gonia, Antonis Argiros has set up an entire cultural center, named Art Space, which runs alongside the modern winery and distillery. From the organic vineyard he picks the grapes, whose variety is named Chiliochrono (one-thousander) Assyrtiko, which many are placing it within the top ten varieties in the world, the Aidani, Athiri, Mayrotragano and the other varieties, and with the vertical vinification at controlled fermentation temperature, results to the “Nychteri”, the “Holy August” and “Holy August barrel”, but also the holy wine of sun-dried “Vinsanto” grapes, five and eleven years old.

Culinary Intersection
Akrotiri was an intersection of different cultures. There were found ostrich eggs from Syria, amphorae from Canaan and stone utensils from the region of Palestine and Egypt. Santorini continues to receive culinary influences which indeed come by following the same ancient lanes, from Crete and Cyprus.
“Between us” (Metaxy Mas), in Exo Gonia there is a nice place overlooking Anafi where someone can enjoy the intercourse of international, Cretan and Santorinian dishes: Cretan salad, pomegranate salad, kantaifi with four cheeses and blueberry sauce, feta pastry with honey and sesame seeds, fava with caper leaves, fillet with vinsanto sauce and mushrooms, lamb with yoghurt sauce, white Santorinian eggplants with tomato sauce, basil and feta, and seafood pasta. At the table, except raki, are also white aidani and the award-winning Santorini 2011 of Hadjidakis, a winemaker based in the near Pyrgos and born in Crete, and whose wines are placed on many people’s top list.
In Oia, at “Kyprida”, Ellada from Cyprus and Zan-Louk from Paris are serving louzes and sausages from Ellada’s origin village, Peledri of Troodous, as also as Cypriot meze moukentra (lentils), hummus, crushed olives, tahini and tzatziki, ravioli, mugs, koupepia, sheftalia, afelia (pork marinated in wine with pourkouri), tava (lamb with cumin, potatoes and zucchini).
Under Oia, Amoudi is very nice scenery in the recess of Caldera, at sea level. There, the tables are served against the sunset. At the edge of the small waterfront is located “Dimitris”, one of the tastiest places of Santorini, with its impressive showcase full of fresh local fish and lobsters. Thus, the pasta with lobster brought from Joy is just fantastic, as also as the mullet and balades, together with the Santorinian salad (curds, cherry tomatoes, “katsouni” cucumber, and caper leaves), the tomato balls, the eggplant salad, the roast cuttlefish and octopus, and fava. The seafood “party” continues at the great beach of Perivolos, at “Dixtia” of Michael Troullakis, with amazing fishpie and fishballs, bekri meze with seafood, smoked white eggplant, fresh fish, salads and a host of other goodies from sea and land.