Photography by Scott McGlashan with editing Jose Morales
Σαντορίνη, Greece – Santorini, an island of beauty created by mother nature’s sinister past, formed due to a colossal volcanic eruption, which is said to have been the largest in history. Santorini’s remarkable landscape and charming atmosphere are only some of the reasons why tourists flock to this small, but distinctively formed island.
As you sail towards this mesmerizing island on the crisp blue Aegean Sea, you cannot help but notice the eloquent whitewashed buildings clinging precariously to its stunning cliffside. At first glance, they almost emulate peaked snow mountains only to be broken up by the iconic blue domes.
Fira is Santorini’s capital and truly is a hub of activity, while still retaining its traditional rustic Greek charm. Mazes of narrow streets lined with sugar cube houses are embellished with striking flowers. Doors and windows are painted in a prominent blue, proudly representing the colors of the Greek flag. Under its commanding cliffs and 220 meters below Fira, is the famous Old Port, also known as Fira Skala. Daily visitors from cruise ships visit the island. Although being a controversial issue, it is from here that tourists take the traditional donkey ride up the famous 587 steps up to Fira. You are also able to take a cable-car up the cliff for the same price.
Due to its geographical location and landscape, Santorini is famous for its sunsets. Each evening, as you sit in one of the many restaurants and bars, you are treated to the most spectacular show on earth. For a remarkable outlook point, ensure to watch the sunset from the Caldera Edge: Fira, Oia, or Imerovigli. Watch in wonder as the sun melts into the horizon with cascading hues of orange and pink, painting the sky as you have never seen before.
Many treasures are waiting to be found on this magnificent island. Head to the North, where you will find the most famous and exclusive village of Oia. While walking Oia’s narrow picturesque path that clings to the edge of the cliff, you are treated to an array of restaurants, bars, and shops. The trail cuts off in many directions, cascading down the cliff and weaving past boutique hotels and charming houses. It is here where you are able to see the iconic and vibrant blue church domes that are world-famous. Like Fira, Oia is blessed with a quaint port named Ammoudi and which can be reached by a set of 300 steps leading down. Here, the crystal-clear water laps against the harbor wall, and an array of traditional Greek tavernas take advantage of this beautiful location. Enjoy a multitude of fresh and delicious traditional seafood dishes, as you once again take in the beautiful sunset and view of the volcano.
In the South of the island, situated at the foot of the Profitis Ilias Mountain, you will find the largest village in Santorini, Emporio. This charming village has unique and narrow streets lined with traditional houses and streets scented by eucalyptus trees peppering the air. It is a much more peaceful area where you can escape the larger towns, yet it still has a great selection of traditional tavernas where you can enjoy delicious homemade meals and local wine.
Santorini is renowned for its production of wine, with one of the most impressive wineries situated in the traditional village of Pyrgos. Santo Wines is one of the most prominent wine manufacturers on the island and has been producing wine since 1947. The island’s fertile volcanic soil and the unique way in which the grapevines grow contribute to the outstanding wines which have gained numerous awards. What makes this winery extra special is its breath-taking location. Here, you can taste various wines while admiring the awe-inspiring caldera view.
Santorini is rumored to be the location of the lost city of Atlantis and is filled with an abundance of history. On the island’s southern shore is the ancient buried city of Akrotiri. The city was destroyed by the infamous volcanic eruption in around 1500 BC. The volcano sent ash clouds up to twenty miles high, burying the city under a 200-foot-deep layer of debris. Now unearthed, you can wander the walkways of numerous excavation sites, where remnants of the people that populated this once-bustling city have been found.
From Santorini, there are several daily tours to awe-inspiring volcanic islands. Traditional boats sail through the azure waters and arrive at the jagged black coasts of Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni. Once there, you will feel like you are on another planet, the earth blackened and scorched with hardly any sign of life. As you wander towards the ancient crater, you can feel the heat building beneath your feet and experience the sulphuric plumes of smoke that escape from cracks in the earth.
If you wish to relax, Santorini offers a welcoming rest bite at a few of its beach resorts. The renowned Perissa Beach is found at the base of Mesa Vouno Mountain in the southeast. With its crystal-clear waters and black volcanic sands, this tranquil beach-resort is also filled with local restaurants and bars. The famous Red Beach is also a must-see when visiting Santorini. With its looming, deep-red cliffs and rich red sands, this beach offers a unique setting away from the traditional beach resort vibe.
Santorini is an island that is both captivating and extraordinary. Even today, with its influx of tourists, it still manages to harness a charm and beauty that can be seen nowhere else in the world. Its landscape may have been born from a menacing past, but is this unique attribute that gives it its undeniable beauty. Its glorious climate and the warmth from its people make this island a truly one-of-a-kind destination. – GM
GUILD MAGAZINE - THE TRAVEL ISSUE