Santorini, Part of the Cycladic Circle of Greek Islands

    Church in Oia, Santorini - Thomas Verdicchio

Church in Oia, Santorini – Thomas Verdicchio

Santorini, ancient Thera is part of the Cyclades, a stunning group of Greek islands. It is in the south Aegean Sea and is famous for its volcanic crater.

Santorini’s Explosive History

Herodotus, ca. 484 to 425 B.C. called the Greek island of Santorini “Thera” which is still its official name. This island paradise has had an explosive history, and was home to what Tony Oswin calls the most “violent volcanic eruption in the last 10,000 years ” in his The A to Z Guide to Santorini.

There have been many eruptions. According to the Viennese author, Hochstatter, a science writer who was active in the 19th century, the explosive eruption in 1866 was “one of the 16 most famous geological events ever.” The most recent volcanic activity was in 1950.

Stepping Stone in a Cluster of Greek Islands

Many tourists visiting Santorini marvel at the history of volcanic activity on the island, visit the crater or caldera, smell the sulphur coming out of steaming vents and enjoy the wonderful island wines at restaurants rimming the crater. They also like to swim, dive and snorkel. No one, however, really knows when the horrific eruption took place, the one that destroyed the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete, which is south of Santorini. Some historians say that this major eruption was as early as 1650 B.C., while others think it may have been a century or so later. Visitors like to take a boat tour to get up close to the volcanic remains of that event and to see the volcanic islets that the disastrous explosion formed. Some visitors also ferry to other Cycladic islands, all part of the Greek archipelago to be found south of Attica in the Aegean Sea.

Speedy Ferries Take Visitors to Islands Near Santorini

Favorite islands to visit in the Cycladic group include Paros, Melos, Andros and Naxos. Originally the term “Cyclades” was used to mean just the islands forming a circle or cluster around the sacred island of Delos, supposedly the birthplace of the gods Apollo and Artemis. Delos was of great importance in antiquity and Santorini was part of the original group. Now the Cycladic island group has been enlarged and includes other “stepping stone” islands, such as Amorgos. All are fun to visit for a day or two and easy to get to by hoppng on a Blue Star ferry.

Santorini Noted for Wine

This island has a variety of grape called “Assyrtiko” that proved to be resistant to the deadly Phylloxera that wiped out so many of Europe’s vines. The islanders make baskets of the grape leaves, twin them around the grapes to protect the fruit from wind and so the vines grow close to the ground. It is not unusual for islanders (and visitors) to take an empty plastic bottle to a vintner and have a full-up for around three euros. Almost everyone loves this refreshing, dry white wine, slightly acid from the local grape.

A good place to stay if you want to spend a few days on Santorini and like to be on the beach is the Hotel Tamarix in Kamari. This lovely hotel is at beach level, whereas the capital of Fira and the town of Oia are higher up.

For information about visiting Santorini and other Cycladic islands go to and ask about the Apollo tour.

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