With its instantly recognisable stone-washed villages and mountainous volcanic landscape, the island of Santorini has become somewhat synonymous with Greece. Its aesthetically pleasing Cycladic architecture looks like it comes straight out of a film, where, in fact, many have been shot. Encapsulating the essence of Mediterranean life, the exponential popularity of Santorini has cemented the island as one of the top holiday destinations of Europe.
There are many great things about Santorini, but it is fair to say when thinking of the island, the first thing that comes to mind is the villages. The village of Imerovigli, nicknamed ‘Santorini’s Balcony’, is arguably the most iconic. The simplicity of its white walls, blue-domed churches and narrowly paved paths create a vivid experience when exploring it. The heavy use of white and blue in the buildings ostensibly symbolises the waves of the ocean and the crystal blue sky, but with the more practical aim of reducing the sun absorption of its South facing buildings. The buildings themselves predominantly lie on the cliff of Caldera, and were originally built on a height with the more war-orientated purpose of spotting invaders coming across the Aegean Sea. Many empires, from the Romans to the Ottomans, have attempted to claim the land over its history, some successfully and some not. With the threat of times gone by seemingly past, the locals and tourists can relax and admire the glorious views across the oceans, where some of the most picturesque sunsets can be found anywhere in the world.
Located on the South of Santorini is the 4000 year old archaeological site of the ancient city of Akrotiri, which until the 17th century B.C. was home to an advanced civilisation believed to be the Minoans, before a huge volcanic eruption wiped out its inhabitants, covering them and the city in ash. It has been theorised by many that the city was the inspiration behind Plato and his lost city of Atlantis, but only until 1967, when, by chance, during an archaeological excavation, the remains of Akrotiri were rediscovered. Whether or not Akrotiri is the answer to this long debated mystery of Atlantis, it takes nothing away from the spectacular nature of the remains, arguably on par with the more renowned site of Pompeii in Italy, complete with expertly curated guided tours.
Along with the island’s rich history, Santorini has evolved to cater to its visitors. Many high end bars and restaurants have sprung up in recent times, particularly in the capital of Fira. Making use of its natural resources, such as fish and olives, the rich assortment of fresh food is not to be taken lightly. Nor is the focus on its wine, which the locals take great pride in, and the island has frequently considered to have the best in Greece. The island boasts over 40 varieties of grapes, and has had an explosion in vineyards, where the grapes are delicately farmed using obscure handpicked methods that have been adapted to make use of the volcanic grounds and dry climate, culminating in a unique and purely endemic Santorini taste.