Santorini is a fairy tale island in Greece
A trip to the Greek island of Santorini is not without reason compared to a journey into a fairy tale. It’s a fairy-tale-like archipelago of five small islands, rightly called the “Pearl of Greece”.
Every year, tens of thousands of tourists from around the world come to admire the sparkling white, like a toy houses, chaotically scattered on the rocks, the rounded blue domes of churches, which in Santorini there are more than 350. The most beautiful of them is Ayio Mina, located on the cliffs of the island of Fira. The beautiful melody of its domes in the morning and evening echoes from different corners of the island.
The main colors of Santorini are: blue – the color that symbolizes the sky, white – a symbol of purity, faith and justice, and ochre (yellow-brown) – a symbol of the inexhaustible power of nature and the unrivaled power of the volcano.
History and legends of Santorini
According to legend, Santorini was once part of a great civilization – the continent of Atlantis, which went under water in times immemorial and was described by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. According to the official data, this mysterious chain of islands was formed thanks to a powerful volcanic eruption that took place in the 17th century B.C. and completely changed the island’s appearance. As a result of this catastrophe, tons of ash covered the sky. The eruption generated the largest tsunami of up to 200 meters high that wiped out nearly half of the island of Crete and caused the death of the Minoan civilization. Santorini inherited from this natural disaster beaches of colored sand: black, white, red and gold.
It took many centuries before the island was reborn again. Its new development began on the island of Fira. It is now the capital of Santorini and one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Since the late 20th century, Santorini has been gaining popularity and developing tourism, opening new resorts.
The main resorts of Santorini
There are several well-known resorts in Santorini, each of them in its own way beautiful and attracts many visitors. The capital of the archipelago is a snow-white city of Fira (Thira), sprawled on a cliff, more than 250 meters above sea level. The acquaintance begins at the seaport, from which a special staircase, consisting of 800 steps, ascends to the city. You can do it by cable car or more ancient way – on a donkey, which is considered a traditional mode of transport here.
The city of Fira is an unforgettable spectacle: the blue domes of small churches, fairy-tale-beautiful against the blue sky, illuminated by the sun, houses and buildings presented in white and blue colors, intricately built on the slope of a cliff. All this presents a truly mesmerizing spectacle.
A few kilometers from Fira is the most romantic resort, Iya, with its tiny white-washed houses and windmills. Newlyweds and lovers from all over the world come here. There is no traffic in the city, so nothing disturbs the peace and quiet of the guests. Romantic lovers come to Iju to admire the sunsets of incredible beauty, each of which is transformed into a unique nature show. At the end of the 20th century, the BBC filmed the sunset here, a symbol of the passing millennium.
Another famous resort on the island of Santorini, which attracts many tourists year after year, is Imerovigli, which has a permanent population of just under 500 people. This place is perfect for lovers of peace and solitude. In this small village there are the ruins of the ancient Venetian castle Skaros and a large number of churches built in the typical Greek style.
In recent years, the resort town of Kamari is becoming more and more popular with beach lovers. This cozy town is known for its natural beauty and warm Aegean Sea. Its sandy and pebbly beach, stretching for more than 5 kilometers with black volcanic sand, was awarded the Blue Flag. Tourists are given all possibilities for active leisure (diving, catamarans, water skiing, parachute), which can be combined with an unhurried beach holiday by the sea. Kamari is also famous for its beautiful sunsets.
Holidays and entertainment in Santorini
The island widely celebrates the great Orthodox holidays of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Transfiguration of the Lord. Each of the island’s many churches has its own patron saint, whose day is always celebrated with solemn church services and merry parties.
During the summer a jazz festival takes place on Santorini. Of great interest to tourists is the wine festival, which falls in the last days of August or September.
In late August, Santorini celebrates the Volcano Festival, which commemorates the largest volcanic eruption that took place more than three and a half thousand years ago. A number of cultural events – concerts and theatrical performances – are held during this period. The celebration culminates in a reenactment of a powerful volcanic eruption with various light effects and fireworks, which takes place on one of the volcanic islands – Nea Kameni.
The island of Santorin – the former Atlantis?
Where was the legendary Atlantis located? “In the Atlantic Ocean, of course,” many of our readers will probably answer this question. – That’s why it’s called Atlantis. Well, the fact that no traces of Atlantis were found in the Atlantic Ocean is not surprising: the ocean is big. And very deep”.
Or maybe no traces of Atlantis were found in the ocean because it never existed there?
What do we know about Atlantis?
The only reliable historical mention of Atlantis is considered to be Plato’s Dialogues. In the Dialogues Timaeus and Critias, Plato relays the story of Solon, an Athenian sage, to whom the Egyptian priests told of a mighty civilization “beyond the Pillars of Hercules,” which emerged in times immemorial, much earlier than the Egyptian and Greek.
The Greeks called the “Pillars of Hercules” Gibraltar, and the mysterious state was named Atlantis in honor of the son of Poseidon, god of the sea, and the earthly woman Cleito, Atlante. Plato describes in detail the nature and geography of the island, the names of its mountains, rivers, cities, wharves and temples, vegetation, fauna, and, of course, the polity under the kings who trace their lineage back to Poseidon.
As for the specific location of the island, Plato limits himself to a single vague indication, on the basis of which Atlantis was sought “beyond the Pillars of Hercules,” that is, not in the Mediterranean Sea, but in the Atlantic Ocean. Of course, the name of the ocean also played a role.
In the Dialogues there are no specific indications about the time of Atlantis’ destruction. It is said only that “when the time came for unprecedented earthquakes and floods, in one terrible day. Atlantis disappeared, sinking into the abyss.” It is still unknown which powerful earthquake or flood, not so rare at the time and which gave rise to many legends, the Egyptian priests may have linked to the fall of Atlantis.
Looking in the Mediterranean Sea?
In the Atlantic Ocean many explorers have searched for Atlantis for many years, and all to no avail. Some of them, including our compatriots, came to a conclusion that there simply is no Atlantis in the Atlantic Ocean. Back in 1854, Russian Minister of Public Education A.S. Norov, in his book “Studies on Atlantis,” gave a rather curious argument in favor of the fact that Atlantis should be sought in the Mediterranean Sea.
Norov refers to Pliny the Elder and some Arabic chronicles, stating that once Cyprus was one with Syria, and became an island after a strong earthquake and immersion of much of the land. The scientist questions the modern “interpretations” of Plato’s texts, in which the story of Atlantis is transmitted “through the third hands”, i.e. through Solon from the Egyptian priests.
The Egyptian priests, Norov believes, referred to the Mediterranean Sea as the Atlantic Sea – because to the west of Egypt, in Berberia, are the Atlas Mountains. Besides, Solon uses the word “Pelagos” rather than “Oceanos” in his narrative, which means that he is talking about the sea.
Plato is my friend, but the truth is dearer.
But what about Plato’s specific reference to “on the other side of the Pillars of Hercules”? Norov answers this question as well. It was the Greeks, Solon and Plato, who understood the Pillars of Hercules as Gibraltar, while the Egyptians could call so almost any significant strait. In the opinion of the Russian scientist, it could well be the Bosphorus.
Subsequently, the Atlanteans found more and more new arguments in favor of the “Mediterranean” theory – including a careful re-reading of Plato.
The fact that the army of the Praathenians, the ancestors of Plato’s Greeks, perished with the Atlanteans, testified that Atlantis was not so far from Greece. In addition, many of the Mediterranean islands correspond almost exactly to the descriptions of nature, mineralogy, and religious cults given by Plato.
In 1897, A.N. Karnorzhitsky (again, our compatriot!), in his article “Atlantis”, identified its location “between Asia Minor, Syria, Libya and Hellas”. And three years later, the Englishman Arthur Evans discovered traces of the ancient pre-Hellenic civilization (the legendary labyrinth of King Minos) on the island of Crete. This was a turning point in the history of the search for Mediterranean Atlantis.
Was it Crete?
As it turned out, Crete “fit” perfectly under all parameters. The cliffs rising from the sea, the color of stones, hot springs and other traces of postvolcanic activity, and finally, the Thauromache (the cult of the sacred bull) of the ancient Cretans corresponded exactly to Plato’s descriptions.
And, most importantly, the story of the tragic destruction of the entire Cretan-Minoan civilization, washed away 3,600 years ago by a huge wave from a volcanic earthquake that occurred on one of the Cyclades Islands.
“Yes, Atlantis was in the Eastern Mediterranean; it is Crete and the surrounding islands during the heyday of the dynasty of King Minos,” the American C.T. Frost stated categorically in 1909.
Jacques-Yves Cousteau: “Atlantis is Santorini.
More than 100 years have passed since then. The search for the Mediterranean Atlantis is underway on the island of Crete itself, as well as thoroughly combing the nearby seabed. Books have been written and films made about this search, including the BBC documentary drama “Atlantis: End of the World, Birth of a Legend” and the film “The Odyssey of Jacques Cousteau. In Search of Atlantis.”
Alas, no serious and definitive archaeological evidence of the existence of Atlantis (or at least of its identity with the Creto-Minoan civilization”) has ever been found.
In the early 80s of the last century, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, desperate to find this same evidence off the northern coast of Crete, went to the main “culprit” of the events of 3600 years ago, the volcanic island of Santorin.
It was here, on the southernmost island of the Cyclades range, where Cousteau hoped to find traces of the sunken Atlantis. In addition to the fact that Santorin, in fact, is the towering debris of an exploded volcano over the water, it is so beautiful and unusual that you just really want to believe in it.
The dark pearl of the Aegean Sea
The dark gray, almost black cone of the mountain is topped by a small but gorgeous white and blue wreath of houses and churches, clinging to the slopes densely like a honeycomb. A dark gray hue, the color of old volcanic ash, is the main color here. There are beaches at the foot of the mountains, but the sand on them is also dark gray, covering the skin with a thin, not immediately washed off.
There are very few horizontal surfaces on Santorini. So few that the runway of the local airport runs right next to the beach, and planes take off and land literally over the heads of vacationers.
The shell of solidified lava covers a thin layer of highly mineralized soil, thanks to which the island grows unusual plants – very large white eggplant, for example, or daisies the size of a tea saucer.
In spring and fall, Santorini experiences sunsets of unprecedented beauty, in all shades of purple, orange and scarlet, and sometimes, on some obscure meteorological whim, in bright green.
Looking from the mountain into the crystal-blue, clear mirror of the inner lake, breathing in the dry and slightly bitter air from the volcanic impurities, it is easy to imagine how recently, just four thousand years ago, instead of volcanic peaks there was a flat, perfectly lined octagonal surface, on which two-meter tall golden-haired and tanned descendants of Poseidon proudly strutted.
It seems, look under the layer of ash, dive deeper from the rock of Poseidon – and here they are, the plates of the bridge of the legendary City of a Hundred Golden Gate, with mysterious writings and images of unknown sea monsters.
Jacques-Yves Cousteau did not find Atlantis off the coast of Santorin. He was over seventy at the time, and perhaps simply lacked the strength and time. But in any case, he did not abandon his idea and bequeathed the search to his students and followers.
So the mysterious and beautiful Santorini is waiting not only for tourists oohing and ahhing with delight, but also for the new generation of atlantologists.