Santorini, Greece is one of the Cyclades islands located in the Aegean Sea. In the16th century it was devastated by a volcanic eruption producing a very rugged landscape. It’s two chief towns are Fira and Oia which can be seen overlooking the sea as they cling to cliff sides that sit above an underwater crater known as the caldera. When visiting Santorini on your Christian tour of Greece, you will want to visit Oia Village, its sister town Fira, the Caldera rim and Skala. Here, we will discuss each place’s unique interest for those who plan to visit.
Oia Village and What It Has To Offer
Located on the northwestern tip of Santorini, the coastal town of Oia is lined in charming, whitewashed houses that carve into its rugged cliff side. It is the most famous of all the villages of Santorini; known for its spectacular sunsets and quiet, pedestrian village life. There are several cultural attractions to see when visiting Oia Village. The Maritime Museum, Panagia Platsani, St. Nicolas Castle, Windmills, Captains’ houses and Cave houses are all stops along your tour that you will want to visit while walking through Oia Village.
The Maritime Museum is a naval museum that showcases local seafaring history, a small library, items collected from the maritime life in the area and vestiges of a Venetian fortress. Panagia Platsani, also known as the Cathedral Church of Virgin Mary Platsani, stands within the main square of Oia. It was built after an earthquake in 1956 because the original church that stood there was destroyed. The remaining remnants of St. Nicolas Castle can be found on the tip of Oia at the northern end of the island. Originally built to protect the island in medieval times, it is easily recognizable as crowds of tourists flock to see this famous spot because of its jaw dropping view of the sunset.
Visible from the castle of St. Nicolas are the windmills that once served as a power source for making food. Presently, food is brought in from the mainland so they are no longer in use but they have been restored for attraction purposes that speak of the islands history. Captains’ houses, which are large, exquisite mansions in an array of colors are a historical attraction as famous Santorinian captains once lived there when traveling. These mansions were greatly affected by the 1956 earthquake so only a portion of them were restored but the memory of this part of the islands history is still very familiar with the locals.
The Town of Fira-Sister to Oia
Fira is the capital of Santorini. It offers more than a handful of museums, art galleries, churches and spots like the Old Port and Skaros Rock. If museums are of particular interest to you, the Museum of Prehistoric Thira displays an expansive collection of prehistoric items from the Neolithic to the Cycladic era. Fossils, figurines, jewelry, ceramics and more can be seen as you explore this museums incredible collection. If you need a break from the heat outside, this is the perfect place to come visit. If culture and history are your appeal than the Archaeological Museum of Thera will be high on your list of places to stop in Fira. This museum includes exhibitions dedicated to the Roman, Hellenistic and Geometric era. Here you can learn tons of interesting facts and discover artefacts of times past. The Megaro Gyzi Museum is another popular stop. A 17th century family mansion that was once a center for spiritual development which now houses music events, lectures and evening films.
A walk to Skaros rock provides breathtaking views along its hiking trails. Along with making this trek for the gorgeous sunsets, most people find it well worth the views and incredible pictures they get to take back home. Another well known trek is the 600 step stairway that leads from Fira to the Old Port. Here you will be immersed in tranquil scenery, take in its relaxed atmosphere and grab a bite to eat. You can work off the calories afterwards by ascending the steps once again or choose to take a cable car back to Fira. When in Fira, don’t forget to visit the local art galleries like MATI and Art of the Loom Gallery as well as Firas many churches like Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist and the Metropolitan Orthodox Cathedral. The architecture is just as gorgeous on the inside as it is on the outside.
The Caldera Rim
The Caldera Rim is essentially a hiking trail from Oia to Fira. Two of the main towns that rest upon Santorini. A caldera itself is a crater that is created after a volcanic eruption. Over 3500 years ago one of the largest volcanic eruptions known happened creating this particular caldera, or sunken crater, leaving us with the rim of the ancient volcano we now know as Santorini. The caldera is completely filled up by water and is the only sunken crater in the world. Attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, people come to admire this group of islands and all they have to offer.
Skala- Unique Greek Cuisine
If food and views are what you’re looking for than plan a stop at Skala, a tavern found in Oia that offers some of the best views of the Caldera and differentiates itself amongst other local fare. Its quality wines and stand alone plates are sure to leave you delightfully satisfied along with its picturesque views, charm and service.
The island of Santorini is just one of the many places you can visit on your Christian tour of Greece. Some other things to explore while on the islands are the beaches, cave houses, souvenir shops and more of the local eateries that Santornini has to offer.