May 29 - June 4, 2016: Issue 265


 Buildings hugging the side of the caldera - Santorini


By George Repin

About 3,600 years ago a cataclysmic volcanic eruption occurred in the South Aegean Sea in an area which first became volcanically active around 3-4 million years ago and where eruptions continue to this day.  The devastating eruption, in the view of some, may have been the largest volcanic eruption in the last few thousand years on Earth and certainly was the most important event in the Aegean before the fall of Troy. Some believe its effects led to the collapse, on Crete, of the Minoan civilisation.

Santorini, the southernmost member of the Cyclades group of islands lies  about 200 Kms. southeast of the Greek mainland, and is all that remains of a populated island which was destroyed by the eruption.  It now is, in effect, a large water-filled caldera forming a protected bay, surrounded by 300 m. high, steep cliffs on three sides. The caldera is so deep – 400 m. – that ships generally are unable to anchor in the bay and cruise ships use their engines to hold their positions in the cone of the caldera.  Several years ago a cruise ship came to grief in the caldera.

Map of Santorini

Cruise ships in the caldera with Tharassia beyond (photo by Nick Repin, September 2008) 

Although Santorini has an airport most visitors come by boat.  Backpackers and other wanting to spend time on the island to visit its significant archaeological sites use inter-island ferries and disembark at the ferry port Athinias, while passengers on cruise ships are taken by tender to the Old Port at Skala.  From here they can go up to Thera (Fira), the main town on the island, by cable car, by car on the switchback road, by donkey on the donkey trail or on foot.  The cable car, in a trip that takes 3 minutes, connects the port to Thera.  It can carry 1,200 people per hour.

Arrival point at foot of cable car and switchback road up to Thera

Thera and Oia (the oldest settlement on the island) are the two main towns. They are built on the crest of the caldera - as are smaller settlements and individual houses.

Buildings hugging the side of the caldera

 Passing IMEROVIGLI on the walk from Thera to Oia

SKAROS - A distinctive rock between Imerovigli and Phirostephani

The group on the walking track

One of the churches on the way

Tower of the church

Oia is an attractive village on the north-west edge of the island extending for about 2 Kms. along the northern crest of the caldera at a height of 70 to 100 m. above sea level. Houses are built on the steep slope into niches carved into the rock on the seaward side. In the town itself there are narrow passageways, a central square and white washed blue domed churches.  Spectacular views of the sunset over the caldera attract tourists.

Approaching Oia

Houses hugging the cliff in Oia

 Mosaic over the lintel of a church in Oia

Oia - sunset

On 9 July, 1956 an earthquake caused considerable damage and many inhabitants left the town so that by 1977 there were only 306 people remaining.

The town has since been redeveloped and now attracts tourists to a “picture perfect” destination in the Cyclades.

A walk along the edge of the caldera from Thera to Oia is a rewarding way to spend a morning on Santorini.  

Pictures, other than that by Nick Repin in 2008, were taken by George Repin in 2001 and 2006

Watching the sunset from Oia

Previous Reflections by George Repin 

The Nineteen Thirties  Remembering Rowe Street  The Sydney Push  Saturday Night at the Movies  Shooting Through Like A Bondi Tram  A Stop On The Road To Canberra  City Department Stores - Gone and Mostly Forgotten  An Australian Icon - thanks to Billy Hughes  Crossing The Pacific in the 1930s  Hill End  The Paragon at Katoomba  Seafood In Sydney  How Far From Sydney?  Cockatoo Island Over The Years  The Seagull at the Melbourne Festival in 1991  Busby's Bore  The Trocadero In Sydney  Cahill's restaurants Medical Pioneers in Australian Wine Making  Pedal Power and the Royal Flying Doctor Service  Pambula and the Charles Darwin Connection  Gloucester and the Barrington Tops  A Millenium Apart  Have You Stopped to Look?  Gulgong  Il Porcellino  Olympia  Durham Hall  Sargent's Tea Rooms Pie Shops and Street Photographers The Ballet Russes and Their Friends in Australia  Hotels at Bondi  Alma Ata Conference - 1978 Keukenhof - 1954 The Lands Department Building and Yellowblock Sandstone  The Goroka Show - 1958  A Gem On The Quay  Staffa  The Matson Line and Keepsake Menus Kokeshi Dolls  The Coal Mine At Balmain  The Hyde Park Barracks  The Changing Faces Of Sydney From Pounds and Pence to Dollars and Cents Nell Tritton and Alexander Kerensky  Making A Difference In Ethiopia William Balmain  J C Bendrodt and Princes Restaurant Azzalin Orlando Romano and Romano's Restaurant  Waldheim  Alcohol in Restaurants Before 1955  King Island Kelp  The Mercury Theatre  Around Angkor - 1963  Angkor Wat 1963  Costumes From the Ballets Russe Clifton at Kirribilli  Chairman Mao's Personal Physician  The Toby Tavern The MoKa at Kings Cross  The Oceaographic  Museum  in Monaco  The Island of Elba Russian Fairy Tale Plates Meteora Souda Bay War Cemetery Barrow, Alaska  Cloisonné  Tripitaka Koreana Minshuku The Third Man Photographs and Memories Not A Chagall!  Did You Listen? Did You Ask?  Napier (Ahuriri, Maori) New Zealand Borobudur  Ggantija Temples Plumes and Pearlshells  Murano  University of Padua  Ancient Puebloe Peoples - The Anasazi   Pula  The Gondolas of Venice Cinque Terre  Visiting the Iban David The Living Desert Bryce Canyon National Park   Aphrodisias   The Divine Comedy Caodaism  Sapa and local Hill People  A Few Children  Cappadocia  Symi Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre   Aboriginal Rock Art on Bigge Island    ANZAC Cove (Ari Burnu) 25 April, 1997  Hotere Garden Oputae  Children of the Trobriand Islands  Page Park Market - Rabaul  Rabual   Kotor, Montenegro   Galleries of Photographs I   Lascaux  Galleries of Photographs II  The Cathedral of St. James – Šibenik, Croatia  Ivan Meštrović  - Sculptor   Delphi   Gallery of Photographs III  The Handicrafts of Chiang Mai Raft Point  San Simeon - "Hearst Castle"  Floriade - The Netherlands - 1982  Russian New Year  Mycenae  "Flightseeing" Out Of Anchorage Alaska  The White Pass and Yukon Route  Totem Poles  Tivkin Cemetery  Krka National Park - Croatia Tavistock Square and the BMA  Orthodox Easter  Wieliczka Salt Mine  

Copyright George Repin 2016. All Rights Reserved.