SANTORINI, GREECE

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

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The last Greek Island on the tour on the Epic, which includes Corfu and Mykonos, is perhaps the most outstandingly exquisite island in the whole country. Some go as far as to say, it's up there in the top 5 of all the islands of the world.

I tend to agree.

The crescent shaped island, also known as the 'Pompeii of the Aegean', Santorini or Thira, is the most precious gem of the Aegean Sea.

It is actually a group of islands, consisting of the aforementioned Thira, Aspronissi, Thirrassi, Palea and Nea Kameni in the Southernmost part of the Cyclades.

Most interestingly, the whole island is built on an active volcano, and perhaps the only island in the world whose crater is in the middle of the sea.

The place is archeologically fascinating in that the surrounding islands are the product of huge eruptions, which occur every 200,000 years, having destroyed the thriving local prehistoric civilizations, evidence of which was found in excavations in nearby Akrotin. The whole glorious Island is actually an immense geological and volcanic natural museum, where a wide range of geological-structures can be seen.

Putting the scientific stuff aside for a moment, Santorini is considered the Crown Jewel of the Aegean, the most sought after spot in Greece for romance, history and exquisite beauty.

Fira, the capitol, sits on the picturesque perch, high above the Caldera, the enormous 'pot' created by an earthquake 3,600 years ago, in which the solid material and gases from the volcano caused the collapse of the centre, thus creating an 8x4 kilometre 'canyon' with a depth of 400 meters below sea level. I must apologize for returning to science, an inevitable thing, since it has caused all of this breath stopping beauty. Located high on the edge of the cliff, which looks like a painting by the greatest of artists, there sits amazing, whitewashed cliff top towns, castles to take one's breath away, overlooking the sparkling Aegean Sea. Smaller villages surrounded by vineyards, slaked by the rich soil of this volcanic island, some peaceful, some more cosmopolitan.  Most of the settlements are perched on 'Caldera's eyebrow', the balcony that offers perfect views of the now peaceful volcano.

Santorini is said to have the most beautiful sunset in the world and couples come here to wed from all over the globe.

Then there is the volcanic beach: so different and unique. Its Seaside treasures have white, black and red sand or volcanic pebbles, sculpture-like stunning rock formations and a lunar landscape. The buildings close to the shore are whitewashed, some with blue capped roofs, to match the azure Aegean Sea.





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