SANTORINI - NEIGHBORHOODS
The capital of Santorini, and the most important of all villages, is located at the west side of the island on the caldera side offering one of the best views of the island. It is 6.5 miles away from the main port, Athinios and about 800 broad, zigzagged steps up from the port. Fira is a typical Cycladic village made of many white painted houses in stepped streets with blue domed churches and sun bathed verandas. Many of its beautiful buildings were constructed back in the times of the Venetian invasion and offer an incredible view of the volcano and the sunset. During summer the central streets are overcrowded with tourists and filled with all kind of shops, restaurants, cafes, bars and night clubs. Of interest are the Archaeological Museum, exhibiting many items from several excavations conducted in the ancient Minoan settlement of Akrotiri, the Megaron Gyzi Museum with its fascinating collection of photos of Fira before and after the earthquake of 1956, and numerous churches and monasteries such as Agios Minas, the cathedral of Ipapanti, the cathedral of Christ, the monastery of Panagia ton Dominikanidon, Panagia tou Rodariou and the Catholic Cathedral.
Plateia Theotokopoulou is the main square of Fira and it is where all the locals meet. The small streets surrounding it are filled with all kind of shops, cafe, restaurants, bars and night clubs. Erythrou Stavrou, one block west of 25 Martiou, is the main commercial thoroughfare. Another block west, Ypapantis runs along the crest of the caldera and provides some staggering panoramic views.
Climbing the steps with a mule had been a tradition on Santorini until 20 years ago when the cable car made its appearance. Today you can either take the donkeys or mules up the winding steps or the cable car. The descent to the old port is an experience not to be missed. You can take the 500 steps down the Caldera (side of the Volcano) through a narrow cobbled street. The way down to the old port is easy.
Immerovigli is a picturesque and quiet village situated only 2 miles northwest from Fira. It is a continuation of Fira and one of the most beautiful balconies of the island. As the highest spot along the caldera rim, it offers awe inspiring views. Though much of the village was destroyed in the 1956 earthquake, Imerovigli is still classed a 'Traditional Settlement, protecting it against over development. The buildings that did survive have been tastefully restored, notably the traditional 'cave' homes that were deeply carved into the hillside. There are also many taverns and cafes with stunning views to the caldera. In front of Immerovigli lies an enormous rock called Scaros. On top of it is a castle that was built during the 13th century and abandoned in the early 1800's. There are numerous chapels and churches built on the rocks overlooking the blue sea. The local Church of the Panagia Malteza has an impressive iconostasis and some icons depicting scenes from the Old Testament. A small white chapel occupies the site of the Rocca at Skaros, which resisted dozens of sieges before falling to the 1956 earthquake. A cliffside footpath runs from Imerovigli back to Fira and offers some of the most spectacular views over the caldera. The village is known as the ultimate romantic destination.
Firostefani (crown of Fira) lies 1.25 miles to the north of Fira, and without a doubt, the views from this part of Santorini are spectacular, offering another perspective of Santorini volcano. One can enjoy the magnificent sight of Fira itself and the breathtaking sunset in the evening. There is no village center in Firastefani as such. It is now almost entirely composed of holiday hotels, pools, villas and apartments with a few restaurants and cafes perched precariously along the top of the cliff. Between the village of Firostefani and Imerovigli lies the Agios Nikolas Monastery.
Situated on the southeast side of Santorini, six miles from Fira,Kamari is famous for its beautiful black sandy beach, which extends allthe way to Monolithos, and for its green landscape. Kamari was the mostimportant strategic point on the island after the decline of Acrotiriin ancient times. It was completely rebuilt after the 1956 earthquake.The black sandy beach, over a mile long, is the main attraction.Taverns and cafes can be found along the coast and you can haveunforgettable nights of entertainment in the bars. Not far from thevillage is the archaeological site of Ancient Thira. Also interestingin Kamari is the church of Panaghia Episkopi, which was built in 1100and within it you'll be able to see significant byzantine frescoes. Thebest time to visit the church is on August 15th during the feast of theVirgin Mary when the church celebrates with a large festival. Thebusiest beach on Santorini offers regimented lines of sunbeds andplenty of beach facilities. The black gritty sand and stone can getvery hot at the height of summer, there is a sharp drop into the waterand strong currents further offshore, so it's not ideal for familieswith children. Kamari Village is connected with frequent bus servicefrom Fira town.
Perissa is one of the most popular beaches in Santorini. The 4.5 milelong black sandy beach is set under the pretty mountain of Mesa Vouno.It offers crystal water and smooth sand plus it is the best protectedbeach from the summer Aegean winds. Perissa lies right next to ProfitisIlias Mountain, totally protected from the North. The black sand getsvery hot and at midday can seem more barbecue than beach. The largeheadland to the north also keeps Perissa well sheltered from any wind.Perissa beach shelves steeply into the sea and slippery slabs along theshore make it less than ideal for children. However it has all theusual tourist facilities and a wide selection of water sports. There isa large campsite here, an excellent bakery and several mini-markets.Eucalyptus groves provide some shade in the resort center. A number ofhotels, restaurants, taverns, bars, discos and other facilities areavailable for the visitor. Perissa is also a popular day trip targetfor those based in beachless Fira.