Archipel Mansion Santorini is located to the northern highest point of Fira, the capital of the island, in the most unspoiled part of the old town, known as Fraggomahalas.
Santorini is the most southerly island of the Cyclades, lying between Ios and Anafi.
It covers an area of 96 square kilometres, and measures 18km from the northern to southern tip. Its width varies from 1,3 km at the narrowest point to 6 km at the widest.
The permanent population of 13.000 people lives in 14 villages.
It is situated 130 nautical miles from Piraeus in the north and 70 nautical miles from Crete in the South.
The west coast of Santorini ends in a steep precipice – known as a Caldera, which is 300 to 400 meters deep and up to 300 meters high. The cliffs surrounding Caldera range in height from 150 – 300 meters
Horizontal parallel bands of red, black and white rock and Lava were formed during repeated eruptions in the last 150.000 years. The top layers – white – pumice-stone show the volcanic activities of the last 3.000 years. Five islands belong to Santorini: Aspronisi, Thirassia, Palea and Nea Kameni and Thira.
By Airplane From Athens International Airport, Eleftherios Venizelos, it is an approximate 45 minute flight to the island of Santorini (JTR). In addition there are various international charter flights, which usually start in April through to October. www.santoriniairportguide.com www.aia.gr/traveler
By Ferryboat Take the ferry from Piraeus past Paros and Naxos to the port of Athinios on Santorini. There is also a daily connection between Heraklion (Crete) and Santorini during the high season. During the summer high speed Catamarans operate from the Port of Piraeus. The trip from Pireaus to Santorini takes 4.5hrs with a high speed ferry.
The center of the city, where are located the central bus station and the taxi station, and most clubs and commercial shops, lies in a ten minutes walk by foot through the paved pedestrian streets.
A - must do - walk is towards Firostefani, following the “fridi”, the paved pathway that stretches along the top of the caldera, with a really special and an ever exciting sunset spot. Before arriving to the “plateia” of Firostefani, you are passing by the Catholic church of Panagia from the yard of which you may stare at the ever changing view of the Santorini archipelago.
The property can be easily reached by car, being on the top of the caldera bay. The cable car, leading to the old port, is located at a walking distance of five minutes. Public parking area, free of charge, is available near the property.
Akrotiri, in the south, a roughly 3,500 year old Minoan town preserved in volcanic ash like Pompeii, is one of Santorini's "must-sees". The excavation site is covered by a roofing system, which makes it something that you can happily visit no matter what time of year. The ruins are extremely well preserved. Streets, buildings, stairs and even second floors of buildings are still visible. Visitors can view Minoan pottery and frescoes, and with a little imagination, feel what it would have been like to live in ancient Greece. Ancient Thira, the Classical city of the island is on Mesa Vouno, 396 m. above sea level. It was founded in the 9th century B.C. by Dorian colonists whose leader was Theras, and continued to be inhabited until the early Byzantine period. The preserved ruins belong to the Hellenistic and Roman phases of the city. The residential area and the larger part of the cemeteries were excavated by German archaeologists between 1895 and 1902. The cemeteries on the NE and NW slopes of Sellada were excavated by N. Zapheiropoulos in the years 1961-1982.
Fira plays host to the Museum of Prehistoric Thira that contains some of the artifacts, which were found in the ruins of Akrotiri. We suggest first visiting the site at Akrotini, where the items came from and then the museum in Fira to understand what the items are. The museum is filled with pots, pottery and other household items, but the highlight is the frescoes of the blue monkeys -- a mystery since historians say there is no evidence that there were ever monkeys on Santorini.
Also in Fira, near the cable car station, is the Archaeological Museum that contains artifacts from various eras. Most of the exhibits are dated from the Classic and Roman period from the ancient town of Thira and its cemeteries.
The beaches in the northeast, from Monolithos to Vlyhada, are the most organized. Those in the north, around Oia, are less crowded. Starting from Akrotiri and the Red Beach, the string of unique beaches which fringe the Caldera become progressively more deserted.
Don’t forget your sunscreen!
Perivolos is situated on the south shore of the island. It is a beach of fine black pebble, with clear water that suddenly becomes very deep. Perivolos is the liveliest beach on the island and boast some excellent fish taverns. Perissa is the neighbouring beach of Perivolos, and has developed in the style of a beach resort. It was one of the first beaches to be developed on the island. It’s is host to organized activities such as diving, parasailing and jet skies can be hired. Kamari is a popular beach and frequented by people from all over the world. Many shops and restaurants line the traffic free beach front. Vlyhada has a wild beauty with its fantastically shaped white pumis boulders, which have been sculpted into works of art by the wind. If you are after a quiet beach – this is the place to go. A small snack bar serves lovely fresh juices and light meals.
Ammoudi is a picturesque cove in Oia. Traditional fishing boats remind you of simpler times. This is a place to come to eat fresh seafood. As the area is small try and make it early in the morning or late afternoon as the beaches are small and become crowded during the middle of the day. Red Beach with its trademark vertical red cliffs is a much photographer beach. Large rocks lie scattered like candy on the coast. You can get there on foot from the parking area or by boat from Akrotiri, Perissa or Kamari. White Beach is reached by boat from Akrotiri or the Red Beach. Fine black sand, pumice stone and grey-white pebbles in the shadow of the tall white rocks give the beach its name. The most impressive of these gigantic rocks is to be seen from the boat. It is a small beach with crystal clear water and a few sun loungers and umbrellas.
Fira is the capital of Santorini. It can be found on the west coast of the island, on the Caldera cliffs opposite the volcano. Modern day Fira is the cultural and commercial center of the island. There is much about Fira worth looking at. Apart from the museums, galleries and cultural events, it has the island’s largest shopping center. Fira heads the nightlife section – many bars and cafes are actually on the Caldera, whilst other, as well as the large clubs, are tucked into the quant cobbled streets weaving through the town. The whole of Fira is connected by a footpath at the cliffs edge that starts just above the Archaeological museum and finishes up on the hill at the Nomikos Centre. The volcano can be seen from every point, as can the mesmerizing sunsets. Sunset time in Santorini seems to be the only hour of the day when everything and everyone stops moving. Ormos (Old Port) is at the bottom of the Caldera cliffs in Fira. The little harbour has taverns and small shops. To reach the Old Port you can walk down 600 stone steps, hop on a mule or take the Cable Car which leaves from the top part of Fira. The large cruise liners drop anchor at Ormos and the passengers are ferried to shore in small boats managed by the Boatmen’s Union. One can spot small fishing boats, the kaikia as well as several pleasure boats, which depart daily for excursions to the Hot Springs at Palia Kameni. Perhaps the only way to grasp the essence of Santorini is to experience the island from the sea point of view. Imerovigli The name of this village belongs to the days of the pirates and the literal translation is “To Guard by Day”. Its position at the highest and most central part of the Caldera give it visual command of the whole area. Imerovigli has views of the volcano with breathtaking sunsets and tranquillity. There is a main square which leads up to the Caldera and the traditional hillside cave settlements. The largest part of the village was destroyed in the 1956 earthquake. Imerovigli has since been restored and is home to some of the most beautiful hotels and homes on the island. Oia is a traditional settlement in the north of Santorini. The village is approximately 150 meters above sea level. Oia was severely damaged in the 1956 earthquake and much work has been involved to implement its restoration. The beauty of Oia is unsurpassed. In fact, it is almost impossible to describe in words. Sugar cubed houses tier the hillside, interspersed by splashes of rich okra, deep fuchsia, cobalt blue, oyster pink and earthy red. Smooth winding paths interconnect, interrupted now and then by a small church, and at every corner there is something new to discover. Oia is one of the most photographed places in Greece. It has inspired artists, poets and every visitor who visits Santorini. Ammoudi port can be reached by car – you have to circle around the bottom road of Oia village – or by walking down 235 steps, or by catching a ride on the back of a mule. At the bottom lies a small postcard perfect harbour, complete with brightly painted traditional fishing boats and lively waterfront taverns. A footpath past the taverns takes you around the base of the mountain to an excellent diving area. Armeni port is smaller than Ammoudi. In bygone days it used to be a base for wine trading. To get there you can catch a boat from Ammoudi, or walk (!) down 291 steps to the quiet harbour below. Mule rides are also available. There is a tavern to have a light meal. Pyrgos – For a pure slice of traditional Santorini, they don’t come any better than Pyrgos. If you want to go somewhere for the real Greek deal, Pyrgos is it! Sitting at the highest point in the middle of the island, the views are fantastic. This gorgeous whitewashed village is beautifully unspoilt and arguably one of the prettiest places on the island. The village swirls around the remains of the Venetian Castle – Castelli – to a charming jumble of winding lanes and churches with distinctive blue domes – which by the way are car free.
Megalochori’s history can be traced back to the 17th century. Home to historical mansions, traditional houses and known as the heart of the wine lands. The village has a rich history of merchants and wealthy land barons exporting Vinsanto to Odessa in Russia.
The square is the heart and soul of the Megalochori, a gathering place for the locals to play a game of cards or ‘tavli’ – backgammon. Spiralling out in all directions is a maze of winding cobbled streets and pathways just waiting to be discovered. Akrotiri - In Medieval times, Akrotiri was one of the 5 fortified settlements on the island. It is a village of great interest on the south west coast of Santorini. Apart from having some of the finest island views which reach as far as Oia, magnificent sunsets, wonderful fish taverns, quiet undeveloped beaches and tiny churches, it is also home to the Akrotiri Excavations and the a Castle in the centre of the village.
A drive to the light house is also worth while, which offers a different perspective on the island. Perissa is a seaside village on the south east coast of Santorini with several kilometers of black sand beaches. Towering over the beach on the north side is the mountain of Mesa Vouno, the site of Ancient Thira. Perissa connects with Perivolos, and the collective area is the longest stretch of beach on the island. Both beaches are organized with beach bars, sun loungers, umbrellas, restaurants and taverns.
At the base of Mesa Vouno, one can find the ruins of the Basillica of Agia Irini. The building dates back to the 5th century, while evidence of a second construction period during the 2nd half of the 6th century was discovered in 1992. The completion of the excavation of the site will take several more years. Kamari is a cosmopolitan beach resort on the south east side of the island, which has recently been awarded the Blue Flag Award. The long stretch of beach lies under the impressive mountain of Mesa Vouno. The water is deep, clear & blue, the sand black and there are lifeguards on duty. A stone paved promenade for strolling that runs parallel to the beach stretches across the bay. Kamari offers a wealth of café’s, bars, restaurants, shops as well as a lively nightlife. Thirassia is the unspoilt island, which once formed part of Santorini. From the moment that you dock at Riva, you feel as if the clock has been turned back 30 years. The first village you will come across on your journey is Potamos, the smaller of the island’s two villages. Tinted bell towers and brightly coloured houses add to the picturesque setting. Manolas is the main village and the larger of the two. Walking down its narrow lanes, the smell of home-cooked meals and washing hanging on the lines takes you right back to the 1950’s on the islands!
The villages seem deserted, which adds to the appeal to explore further. The people of Thirassia live in a wholly different world than the people ‘from across’. No much seems to have changed since the days when most worked for the Nomikos’ ships, and people closed shutters across the windows the moment they spotted ‘a foreigner’! During the winter months the island is inhabited by about 200 locals. The permanent residents are mainly subsistence farmers and fishermen. There is hardly any tourism on the island and the few rooms that are available are usually used by relatives of local people visiting from the main land.
For the moment the tourist boats dock in the old harbour at Korfos. There are a few taverns to enjoy a light meal. The only way up from the old harbour to the main town is by foot or donkey. The DVD in the villa “A Small Crime” was filmed on Thirasia. Worth Watching!
The vineyards of Santorini are thought to be the oldest in the world still under continuous cultivation, however actual age of the vines is under debate. The vines are grown in the “koulara” method, meaning they are woven into continuous circles to form a basket for protection from the strong winds and summer sun. After many years of such training, the nutrients must pass through several meters of vine to finally reach the grapes, which greatly affects the yields of these old vines. Eventually the yields become so low, that the basket is cut completely off at the root of the plant near the surface of the soil.
This is generally done when the baskets approach 75 years of age. A new plant eventually sprouts from a dormant eye on the old rootstock and a new basket will be formed that produces a harvest within 2-3 years. It is known that this procedure has been performed at least four or five times over these last centuries, making some of the original rootstock there hundreds of years old.