Our fourth stop in Greece was Santorini, the southernmost island in the Cyclades group southeast of mainland Greece and routinely rated one of the most beautiful islands in the world. For me and Mark this was our second trip to the island, having spent a few days here in 2012. I am glad to report that it’s just as beautiful today as it was then.
The interesting part of Santorini’s history is that the current island is the result of an absolutely massive volcanic eruption that occurred in the mid-second millennium BC. The explosion blew the island known as Thera to smithereens, with the much of the land collapsing into the sea, creating the caldera that today gives Santorini much of its beauty. To give a sense of the magnitude of the explosions, scientists believe that it was about four times as powerful as the volcano that erupted on Krakatoa in 1883, by far the most powerful volcanic eruption of modern times. The Thera eruption, in fact, is cited by some as the genesis of the legend of Atlantis.The volcano that created today’s island also buried the Minoan settlement of Akrotiri on the island’s southern end, which is allegedly a pretty amazing excavation site. I say allegedly because while Dan & Laura & their kids toured it, Mark & I had some serious beach obligations to attend to instead.
Today, then, the western side of the island is an extremely steep cliff down to the sea, with the smaller island of Therasia forming the other side of the caldera. The white buildings along the edge of the cliff end up looking like a Dalí painting come to life the way they all but drip down the side of the island. Interestingly, today’s beauty is also in part the result of a big earthquake in 1956 that destroyed most of the buildings in Oia (the most beautiful part of the island, on the north end). As they rebuilt it became quite the tourist mecca.