The most beautiful island in the Aegean Sea

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Santorini, the most beautiful island of Aegean sea

I really love Santorini. I have this urge to visit it every year as I live just 1.5 hours away using the ferry. However, I’ve been there only 4 times so far, but I’m not planning to stop going.

Santorini is an amazing place that you need to visit at least once in your lifetime only for one reason. The amazing sunset. This unique sunset made the island extremely popular for honeymoons, weddings and exotic escape for lovers.

But Santorini it’s not only about beautiful sunsets. Actually, by visiting Santorini, you are going for vacations to an active volcano. A continuously evolving geological phenomenon that shapes and changes the island every day.

There are so many things to do in Santorini and you need to spend some time to really appreciate the island. The tour agents offer numerous interesting activities that include: photography tours, wine tasting tours, hikes at the edgy cliffs, boat cruises and much more. Furthermore, you can enjoy crystal waters with black volcano sand or red pebbled beaches that will blow your mind and make you never want to leave.

The main cities of the island are Fira (or Thira), Oia and Kamari. Each one is unique in its own way. Let’s read about them.


Fira,  the capital of Santorini,  is built on the eyebrow of the caldera, 400 meters above the sea level the capital of Santorini. The white houses built on the edge of the cliff are a spectacular sight when you are looking the city from the sea.


The second most important settlement in Santorini is Oia. Oia is a lovely traditional village located on the North side of the island. It has been declared as a traditional settlement to be preserved by the Greek National Tourism Office. The reason was that the special way the houses have been built. Most of the houses are domed caves carved through the volcanic rocks of caldera cliff. This characteristic provides ideal conditions both for summer and winter.


Kamari was built after a destructive earthquake in 1956. A small arch that was part of a sanctuary dedicated to Poseidon gave the name to Kamari. Kamari beach is the longest beach of Santorini and the most popular among tourists. Because of its size, you will never find it overcrowded. The water is crystal clear, but the beach is not recommended for small children as there are many slippery stones.

A beautiful creation

Around 1610 BC, a complete round island in the middle of the aegean sea was devastated from one of the most massive volcanic eruptions recorded in human history. This eruption created a giant caldera covering an area more than 80 square kilometers. This event led to the fall of the great Minoan civilization while some researchers believe that it was the cause of most of the biblical plagues, strongly connected with the Exodus of Israelites from Egypt. Today, what remains from that round island is the most popular touristic destination in Greece. The island of Santorini gets more than 2 million visitors every year which roughly amounts to the 10% of total tourists visiting Greece.

Name of Santorini

An old cathedral in the village of Perissa, gave the name Santorini, to the island. The passing Frank crusades in the 13th century used to stop for supplies near to the church of Saint Irini. So they started to refer to the island as ‘santa irina’, which contracted later to the name as we know it today, Santorini. Before the great volcano eruption the island was completely round, so Greeks named it Strongili which means ‘the circular’. The beauty of Santorini was recognized from Ancient Greeks when it took its current shape after the eruption, amd they named it Kallisti, which means ‘the most beautiful’.

What to expect from Santorini

During my stay in Santorini, l overheard a middle-aged couple discussing about the island. They were not satisfied with what they had seen so far. “What to see in Santorini? White houses?”. Unfortunately, this misconception is very common among tourists that visiting Santorini. Most of them are visiting from close-by islands like Crete and stay there for a couple of hours. Well, for such a short trip, the only thing you have time to see is the white houses. However, Santorini is much more than this. The amazing sunset, the great wine, the fact that you are on vacations literally on an active volcano, the crystal clear waters, and the colorful beaches, the hot springs, the ride with the donkeys and of course, the sharp cliffs with the white little houses. The truth is that 2 or 3 days in Santorini are enough to get a glimpse of all of these.

Santorini’s Popularity

Since the exponential rise of the tourism in Greece in 1980’s, Santorini took its place as the top touristic destination in Greece, and one of the top in the world. Santorini has been chosen as the best Island in the world for 2015 (TripAdvisor) and has reached the top rankings of several other lists based on travelers choices in popular touristic magazines and websites.

A common misconception

A common question that everyone makes when visiting Thira and Oia, is where are the houses with the blue roof. The truth is that only a few churches have a blue rooftop and most of them are in Oia. The misconception of the blue and white houses is due to the iconic picture from Oia of the three blue domes church with a view to the caldera. The pictures of this church have become the brand of Santorini. The same church photographed from different angles is used on almost all brochures or websites advertising Greece and Santorini.


people live permanently on the island



tourists visit Santorini every year

steps from Fira to the old port of santorini


metric tones of Santorini’s unique soil are exported every year

An active volcano

The round volcanic island in the middle of Santorini’s caldera lagoon is called Nea Kameni. The name means the new burnt island and it happens to be the most newly created land in the Mediterranean sea. The island created in 1570 after a volcanic eruption. In later years a series of volcanic eruptions and seismic activities created the island as we know it now. Today on this island scientists observe steam activity and there are many thermal springs along its coasts

The lagoon of the Caldera

The volcanic eruption in Santorini created a caldera that literally sunk the most part of the island and created a giant lagoon in the middle. A caldera is formed after large volumes of magma erupted. Then the support to the ground is lost and this leads to the collapse of the surface. In Santorini’s case, the caldera is filled with sea water. As the magma from the volcano flows to the surface, it builds up to form cones of material. In the center of this lagoon, two small islands emerged as a result of this volcanic activity. The islands Kameni and Nea Kameni are only the visible cones while there are many other hidden beneath the sea.

Nothing is ever ended in the volcanic parts of the sea

The two most important events that formed Nea Kameni took place during 1707 and 1866. During the events of 1866, foreign governments sent scientists to observe the volcanic activities and it was the first time that photography was used to study such phenomena. Among the people that observed this unique sight of island creation was Jules Verne. Later Verne referred to Santorini in his famous book ‘20.000 leagues under the sea’. While you are in Santorini and watching the Nea Kameni island remember the words of Captain Nemo: ‘Nothing is ever ended in the volcanic parts of the sea’. Probably the next time you will be back to Santorini, Nea Kameni will not be the same.

Enceladus and Santorini

It’s 9th July of 1956 and the time is 05:11. An earthquake of 7.5 degrees on the Richter scale leaves Santorini in a devastating state. 12 minutes later an aftershock of 6.9 Richter terrorize the locals. 35% of the houses are collapsed and 45% suffer severe damages. A tsunami of 25 meters hits the nearby islands and breaks many boats in ports all over Aegean sea including Crete. 53 fatalities and 100 injured added in the final sum of the disaster that nature brought upon Santorini to show its power over people. That was the largest earthquake in Europe in the 20th century.

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