Santorini, also called Thira, or Fira, lies south of the central Cyclades group of Greek islands. It is considered one of the top holiday hotspots in the Cyclades. Born in a centuries old massive volcanic eruption, the fumes still rise offshore. (see where exaxctly is santorini located)
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Santorini caters for the well heeled holidaymaker, with many luxury hotels and swish bars. Cruise ships also ferry in visitors by the thousand to gasp at the island's romantic sunset skies and to turn on to Santorini's vibrant club scene.
Santorini has its own airport, so it's easy to get flights, and shuttle buses run to all the main resorts. Santorini has plenty of quality hotels and, although the island attracts independent travellers, finding budget accommodation can be a problem.
Santorini holidays are in huge demand and local prices do reflect the fact. Expect to burn a sizeable hole in your wallet to secure the best views from the Santorini's clifftop tavernas and bars.
The capital town of Fira perches precariously on top of vertical cliffs. The view over the caldera and the romantic pull of those sunsets make this a favourite spot for honeymoon couples.
Most holiday hotels are located in the main Santorini resorts of Fira and Imerovigli, both of which are an ideal choice for those looking for a lively buzz; a quieter time awaits those visitors who edge a little further north along the caldera rim.
Santorini is a water-filled active volcano. The only inhabited one in the world.
One of the greatest eruptions ever known to man occurred here around 1650 B.C.
After Vesuvio, Santorini is the most studied volcano in the world.
The latest volcanic event occurred in 1950.
Take the time to visit the volcanic islands of Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni.
There are great guided boat tours each day in summer.
Walk on the firm lava beds, watch steam ven
Santorini - natural wonder of the world
The Santorini nature is not only pleasing to the eye but also fascinating to study because it does not remain constant.
The mesmerizing and dramatic Santorini nature that we encounter today is the result of several geological events, many of them fairly recent.
Even as late as in the last century additions have been made to the Santorini landscape.
Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes have taken place here over thousands of years, making Santorini one of the most legendary geological sites in the world.
In fact, after Vesuvio, Santorini is the most studied volcano in the world.
If you have even the slightest bit of interest in natural history, Santorini is nothing but a goldmine!
The great explosion in the sea
The most spectacular volcanic eruption took place around 1650 B.C., and is today recognized as one of the greatest explosions ever known to mankind.
In a single event, 61 cubic kilometres of magma and rock was blasted into the atmosphere. White ashes fell back from the sky and covered Santorini in up to 60 m thick layers.
Only one eruption in human history is known to have been larger. In 1815, the Indonesian volcano Tambora exploded and released some 100 cubic kilometres of magma.
Evidence of the gigantic Santorini eruption has been found practically all around the Aegean sea.
The explosion created a shockwave on the water (a tsunami) that is believed to have totally devastated settlements on northern Crete, some 110 km away.
The event, often referred to as the Minoan eruption, has been suggested to be the beginning of the end of the Minoan civilization.
The people living on Santorini at the time seem to have had quite enough time to leave before the volcano exploded, as no human remains and very few valuables have been discovered from this period.
Is Santorini the lost city of Atlantis?
You are probably familiar with the legend of Atlantis. It tells the story of a culturally advanced island society that suddenly and mercilessly disappears into the sea leaving nothing and nobody behind above surface level.
The legend has been widely featured in all forms of modern media, including music, movies, video games and tv series.
What you may not know is that it was the greek writer and philosopher Plato that in 360 B.C. first wrote about the catastrophic fate of Atlantis.
How much of his tale that was based on fact or fiction is an ongoing matter of debate, but most Atlantis scholars will make the case that the myth grew from a factual event.
Assuming it did happen, the most interesting question then becomes: where did it happen?
Modern research may have put Santorini at the top of the Atlantis candidate list.
Since the late 19th century a massive uncovering of archaeological and geological evidence has taken place on Santorini.
The findings have enabled scholars to make important links between Plato's description of Atlantis and the great Minoan eruption.
Later eruptions - creating new islands
Many smaller eruptions have taken place after the great Minoan eruption.
These have led to further changes in the ever changing Santorini nature through the creation of the two small islands in the center of the caldera.
Palea Kameni (Old Kameni) was formed in the year 46. Later eruptions in 726, 1457 and 1508 further increased the island's mass to the size that we see today.
In 1573, the first trace of what was to become Nea Kameni appeared. Since then many volcanic events, the latest one being in 1950, has shaped Nea Kameni into its current form.
The image on your right shows Nea Kameni in front of Palea Kameni. Behind them lies the tiny island of Aspronisi.
That the volcano is still active is very evident on both Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni with their continuous release of hot water and sulphur vapors.
Nea Kameni has seven small fuming craters and Palea Kameni one crater.
Get up close to Santorini nature - visit the volcanic islands
For all the awe that the sight of the volcanic islands inspires from shore, there is nothing quite like actually being there.
Feel the natural magic as you step onto the firm lava of Nea and Palea Kameni and sense the sulphur in the air.
Watch up close how the smoke puffs from between the rocks and then take a swim in the warm volcanic springs.
You can easily visit the volcanic islands. In summer, guided tours are arranged daily.
Learn more about Santorini nature and natural history
Check out the Thera Foundation for articles on Santorini nature and natural history.
Also worth checking out is this nice trip report on Santorini nature.