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SANTORINI

Santorini – the island of fables, the land forged by the gods, the challenge to the senses…

As myth holds, Santorini was made from a fistful of dust that fell on the sea. Nested in the heart of the Aegean Sea, the island of Santorini is legendary for its wild and unreserved beauty. We, the people behind Mill Houses Studios & Suites, await all of you, throughout the year for a travel experience that is bound to stay engraved in your memories forever.

 

A few historical facts of Santorini

Santorini was formed by a series of volcanic eruptions which affected the whole Aegean, all the way south to Crete. Originally, the island was named Kallisti (the beautiful one) and Stroggyli (the round one). Many people inhabited the island, starting from the Pre-Hellenes, then the Phoenicians and the Dorians, who named the island Thira, after their King Thiras. During the 16th century BC, the Minoans settled on the island, which became an important center of the Minoan civilization.

 

Around 1550 - 1500 B.C. a violent volcanic explosion caused the submergence of the central part of Santorini, creating a huge basin of 83 square miles, called the Caldera. During the Persian Wars, the island sided with the Athenian Alliance. Later Santorini came under the rule of Sparta. In the Byzantine Era and under the rule of Constantinople, Santorini adopted the Christian faith and appointed its own bishop and organized its Christian church. In 1204 AD, after the Fall of Constantinople, the Venetians took over the island and it was during this time that the island was named Santorini, after Saint Irene (in Italian “Santa Irene”). In 1207, Santorini was handed over to the Duke of Naxos and although it was taken by the Greeks for a short while, it remained under Venetian Rule until 1579, when the island came under Ottoman Rule. It had relative autonomy during this period, to the point that Santorini had an elected delegate who represented the Santorinians before the Turkish Authorities. The island finally gained its independence in 1821 and joined the Greek Republic in 1830 with the signing of the London Protocol. On July 9th, 1956, at about 05:00 am, a severe volcanic earthquake caused much destruction on Santorini, but the island has managed to re-build and to develop into one of the most popular and well-loved vacation spots in the world.

 

For information about Santorini Villages, click below.

Fira
The capital of Santorini, located at the west of the island, almost at the center of the Caldera coastline, at an altitude of 260 meters from sea level. It is particularly lively and popular to the visitors of Santorini, with traditional, narrow, stone-paved alleyways full of local shops with souvenirs and local products, restaurants, bars and night clubs for those that seek a vivid night life.
 
Fira settlement was formed in the late 18th century, when the island dwellers started moving here from Skaros (in Imerovigli, about 3 km away) in order to have an easier access to the sea level below. Around the beginning of the 19th century, Fira was declared capital of the island, taking the place of Imerovigli which was the previous capital of the island.
 
With a population of about 2.500 inhabitants, Fira is greatly dependent upon tourism for the income that will allow these inhabitants to balance between the traditions of the past and today’s economic reality.
 
Firostefani
Northern and higher than Fira, in between Fira and Imerovigli lies this picturesque, traditional village with magical views. Firostefani is officially a separate village, but it is actually the continuation of Fira towards Imerovigli. At a higher altitude than Fira, it offers an amazing combination of the volcanic scenery along with the unique sunsets of Santorini.
 
It is a quiet village without the hustle and bustle of everyday life in Fira, with a lot of hotels, traditional houses, villas, studios and rooms. It is a popular settlement as it offers a serene setting only 10 minutes away from the center of Fira. There are a couple of excellent restaurants and cafés in the area of Firostefani and the island’s vivid nightlife venues are just 10 – 15 minutes away.
 
Imerovigli
Nested at the highest level of the populated Caldera, right on the cliff, at an altitude of over 300 meters from sea level, Imerovigli is also the highest settlement on Santorini. It has been officially declared as a place of great natural beauty and the magnificent view from Imerovigli is the greatest attraction for the multitudes of visitors of the area. Awe-inspiring pictures of panoramic views that span from Akrotiri in the south to Oia in the north, have travelled all around the globe attributing unparalleled fame to the island.
 
Imerovigli stands as a guard overlooking Skaros, which used to be the capital of the island until the 18th century, when the inhabitants started moving towards Fira for a better and easier access down to sea level. Although in the 19th century Fira becomes the capital, Skaros remained a great touristic site for those that are willing to climb up the hundreds of steps and walk for about 15 minutes from Imerovigli to the monastery of Panayia Theoskepasti with a panoramic view to the Caldera basin
 

Oia
Oia is the most popular destination of all visitors of Santorini; It is a “must” in everyone’s itinerary. Located on the north tip of the island, at an altitude of about 150 meters from sea level, Oia is a favourite destination amongst art lovers and those that seek for something more peaceful and quieter than Fira.
 
During the earthquake of 1956, some parts of Oia were destroyed and collapsed into the sea and the results from that are still visible nowadays. However, from the buildings that remained standing, the most impressive ones are those built on the volcanic rock, on the side of the cliff.
 
The central alleyway of Oia is full of shops with souvenirs, local artists’ galleries, jewelry stores, restaurants and cafés. Every evening, visitors from all over Santorini gather at the castle ruins on the northern edge of Oia, over Ammoudi bay, to watch the famous sunset of Oia.
 
Ammoudi
Ammoudi is a small harbor on the northern tip of Oia, right across the neighbouring island of Thirassia. It used to be the commercial harbor of Santorini centuries ago and it is amazing to see how everything is built into the sharp, spectacular, red volcanic rock. It is accessible either by driving down or following a set of about 350 steps down from Oia.
 
Ammoudi consists of a few taverns, some fishermen’s boats and a small pebble beach. The small harbor of Ammoudi bay is used daily to access Thirassia island which stands just 10 minutes across or as an intermediate stop for the vessels that cruise the volcanic islands around the caldera. Nowadays, it is a famous and popular destination for sea food lovers. There are also people that like to swim next to the rock of St. Nicholas chapel which is just around Ammoudi bay, however this requires great caution because of the rocks.
 
Kamari
Located at the southeastern part of Santorini, right next to the hill that separates it from the south part of the island, Kamari has a distinct Greek island atmosphere. It is a place that except for the black pebble beach, it does not remind anything from the wild and untamed volcanic scenery that dominates the western part of the island.
 
At a driving distance of about 8 km from Fira, Kamari is a particularly cosmopolitan area, with restaurants, taverns, lounge bars, coffee shops, shops, cinemas and anything else one would expect to find at a place that serves a modern way of life. Despite the fact that the black, smooth pebble beach is an attraction for all the visitors of Santorini and also that Kamari is the place with the largest touristic growth, it remains pleasant and simple.
 
Over Kamari village, on the lower part of the hill that separates the eastern part of the island, lies the important archaeological site of Ancient Thira. It is accessible either by walking or by car following a winding road uphill. Whilst up there, you can have a view of both Kamari and Perissa.
 
Pyrgos
Pyrgos (meaning “tower” in Greek) is one of the oldest settlements on Santorini and also one of the biggest ones. As its name reveals, there is a medieval castle at the top of the village and the architecture of the whole settlement around the castle is one of the finest examples of the way castles were fortified. After walking uphill through the narrow, winding alleyways that lead to the top of the castle, one can enjoy a panoramic view of the whole island.
 
Despite the destruction from the massive earthquake of 1956, Pyrgos still remains one of the biggest villages of Santorini, both in size and in population. It is built on the slope of Prophet Elias hill, 6 km driving distance from Fira and is almost at the same altitude from sea level as Imerovigli. Pyrgos village managed to remain relatively untouched by tourism as it is not allowed to build hotels.
 
Perissa - Perivolos
Driving through Pyrgos, over the hill, along the south slope of Prophet Elias hill, towards the southeastern part of Santorini lies the popular and cosmopolitan village of Perissa and Perivolos. Driving for about 13 km through traditional Cycladic villages, your journey ends when you meet the longest stretch of black sand beach on the island. There is nothing else someone would ask from this place, it has it all: beach taverns and restaurants, beach bars and clubs, water sports, crystal clear waters, organized beach parts with sunbeds and umbrellas, shops, mini-markets and the list goes on…
 
Perissa and Perivolos villages are one next to the other, with Perissa starting right next to the rock below Ancient Thira and Perivolos continuing until the south end of St. Georgios, about 2,5 km away. It is also possible to reach Perissa from Kamari, taking one of the tender boats that take people from Kamari to Perissa and back, sailing on a regular basis around the rock of Ancient Thira that separates these two villages.
 
Akrotiri
Located on the south cape of Santorini (hence the name which means “cape” in Greek) Akrotiri monopolizes the archaeological interest of Santorini. The ruins of the city that was found buried under tons of volcanic ash is still considered to be a proof that the long lost Minoan civilization and the myth of Atlantis is one and the same.
 
The rest of the city, which was initially discovered in 1866 by the French archaeologist Spyridon Marinatos, was later on excavated to reveal a city really well preserved under the volcanic ash. A lot of the wall paintings and the artifacts that were discovered during the excavations in Akrotiri, have been transferred to various museums both on Santorini and mainland Greece.
 
The houses that have been excavated are dated back in the 16th century BC and some are even three floors high! A lot of the interior staircases are still intact and there are findings that tell of a sophisticated sewage system along with ruins of a mill, of a pottery workshop and of storage rooms.
 

To download Santorini Tips in PDF click here

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