Santorini travel, Santorini travel, Santorini travel, Santorini travel

 

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Santorini travel, Santorini travel, Santorini travel, Santorini travel

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The legend of Lost Atlantis

 

Plato refers to an ancient civilisation that vanished due to a sudden natural disaster. The legend has puzzled many generations of historians who variously locate Atlantis in the Antilles, America, some island west of Gibraltar, Malta, or just in Plato's imagination. During recent years Greece has been considered as the most likely location of Atlantis and according to several experts Santorini is the mythical island.

We know that Thira had been inhabited before 2000 BC and that the advanced Minoan civilization existed in Crete & Thira before the disastrous eruption. That civilization suddenly disappeared about 1600 BC, a fact that was interpreted as the result of an invasion by tribes from the Greek mainland. But the Thira eruption -that took place during the same era- led Marinatos among others to believe that the great explosion not only destroyed Thira but also created a huge tsunami, which vanished the Minoan society of Crete.

In fact, Santorini is the largest active caldera (sea crater) in the world, 5 times larger than Krakatoa between Sumatra & Java in Indonesia. The Thira eruption is estimated to have been 5 times more powerful than the one of Krakatoa that is described by J.V.Luce in "The End of Atlantis":

"Between just two days, 26-27 of August 1883, 23 square kilometers of Krakatoa disappeared after a series of explosions. The largest of all, at 10 am of the second day, was heard from Alice Springs in central Australia to Martinique in the Caribbean and from Ceylon to north Malaysia. The pressure waves created in the atmosphere travelled 3.5 times around the Earth, and heavy damages were caused to buildings up to 160 km away. The explosions created tsunamis, the biggest being 17 m high at a distance of 88 km from Krakatoa. The waves destroyed about 300 towns and villages on the neighbouring coasts of Java & Sumatra, causing the death by drowning of a large part of the coastal population, around 36,000 souls in all."

Based on the Krakatoa disaster, it is quite reasonable to believe that the Thira eruption devastated the north coast of Crete -located just 90 km away- through waves perhaps 60-100 m high travelling with a speed of 160 km/h. The volcanic ash might had covered the entire island in layers 10-75 cm thick, enough to minimise the fertility of the soil for 2-15 years.

The volcano has been active on several occasions since the great disaster. The eruption of 236 BC separated Thirassia from the NW edge of Thira, whilst Old Kammeni (Old Burned) appeared in 196 BC. The southern coast of Santorini was submerged in 1570 AD; three years later Small Kammeni was created and between 1711-12 New Kammeni emerged from the sea. In 1866 a series of eruptions lasting two years caused the islet of Aphotessa to appear and then disappear. The eruption of 1925-26 that connected Small & New Kammeni caused little damage, but the powerful earthquake of 1956 destroyed many buildings and created tidal waves up to 17 meters high.

Climatic conditions are typical for the Cyclades region, with long sunshine duration & little rainfall. Humidity is relatively high (in fact, it is the main water source for vegetation). Temperature fluctuations are rather limited throughout the year and snow is a rare event. Winds usually come from the North quite strongly (especially the meltemi in August), but sometimes the south ones are nasty too [see Santorini climatic data here].

Transport

 

Santorini has 3 ports (Athinios, Fira, Oia) with sea connections to Piraeus, other Cyclades islands & Crete. There are direct flights to Athens, Rhodes, Mykonos & abroad (chartered) from the long runaway of Monolithos [see tips on travelling from Athens here]. Buses & taxis on the extensive asphalt road network serve local transport, while large & small boats connect several points within Caldera. Additional local transport means include animals (donkeys & mules), a cable car (in Fira), and of course a growing number of cars & motorcycles.

 

The economy

 

Santorini is well known for its strong and tasty wines which are the major local products, the most interesting being the white nikteri (from grapes picked before dawn), the sweet red vissanto ('vino santo') and the powerful tsikoudia (strong grape schnapps, identical to grappa). The local agriculture yields a limited amount of vegetables, small and tasty. A few tomato processing old factories still exist, idle but charming examples of past industrial architecture. 
An important sector is the mining of Theran soil (pumice), used by building industries in Greece and abroad. Shipping has always had a great historical, financial and political importance, with many local seamen and shipping tycoons. The surrounding waters are very good for fishing, but usually the demand for fresh fish exceeds the supply. The newest sector with vast & fast growth is tourism, involving a large part of the permanent and seasonal population.

Tourism

 

The spectacular & unique landscape, the distinctive vernacular architecture and the long runaway have caused a rapid increase of mass tourism during the recent years, with all the related side effects (“collateral damage”?) on the environment & the attitude of the locals. Settlements like Kamari & Perissa are quite busy in summer, continuously growing thanks to the hordes of visitors. The port of Fira is a routine stop for every East Mediterranean cruise. There are quite a few sandy shores easily accessible by car; Kamari & Perissa beaches are crowded in summer, though there are spots with better sand & fewer people at short distance. The sea in Caldera is deep (down to 400 meters at a spot west of Merovigli) and clean, but accessible only at a few points -and by few people. Nudism is rather tolerated, especially in some less crowded spots like Koloumbos. Special attractions include the excavation site in Akrotiri, the islets of New & Old Kammeni (with black lava rocks and sulphur water warm all year), and local religious events (like in Riva on the 5th of May).

 

 

Text from Mr.  Thanos N. Stasinopoulos From his web page on Santorini,

 

 
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 Santorini Top destinations

  Kamari Fira

Perivolos

Pyrgos
  Karterados Oia Village Akrotiri Imerovigli
  Perissa Monolithos Ammoudi Firostefani
       

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