History and culture , Santorini: Guide Santorini: Greece - Nozio 0%

Author: Nea Kameni_WorldIslandinfo

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Santorini History And Culture, Greece

Santorini has a unique, ancient history, still shrouded in mystery. Once, between 200 and 1500 BC, it was a happy and prosperous island, civilized and wealthy, a strong Aegean sea naval power tied to Crete and the sophisticate Minoan civilization. At that time it was called Kallisté (the most beautiful one), and must have been a luxuriant island, surrounded like today by the most beautiful cobalt blue sea in the Cyclades. But there was a volcano and the people, homes, buildings and businesses were unaware of their destiny. Around 1500 BC, the ground on Kallistè began to tremble, warning the population which may or may not have been able to escape when the explosion occurred, and it was disaster. A cloud of smoke rose 80 kilometers. Ashes and lapillus covered Kallisté and Anafi for over sixty meters (a blanket of ash also covered Crete). A tidal wave swept the Aegean, Egyptian, Palestinian and Asia Minor islands and coasts. The volcano collapsed on itself and created Santorini's unmistakable Caldera, an 83 kilometer water basin created by what was left of ancient Kallisté. Aerial views highlight the shape of the crater while the island's disastrous plunge into the sea can only be felt for a second from the ground, immediately replaced by the excitement of being in one of the most spectacular spots in the Mediterranean and, probably, in the world.

Some historians and archeologists debate whether Kallisté could have been the Atlantis mentioned by Critias and Timaeus in Plato's famous dialogs describing the legendary city in intricate detail. Even the archeologist Spiros Marinatos connected Santorini to Atlantis but his excavations, initiated on the island in 1967, intended to uncover the relationship between Kallisté's catastrophe and the disappearance of Crete's Minoan civilization. An this was the case. Under 10 meters of lava on the southern part of Santorini, practically in tact after 3000 years, lay Akrotiri, called the Pompeii of the Aegean, another piece to the puzzle of how Kallisté - Santorini was connected to Crete. A trip to Akrotiri alone is worth your entire vacation in Santorini. Roads, homes, shops, squares: everything exactly as it was 3500 years ago when the 30,000 city population with a flourishing trade port was one of the most celebrated sites in the Aegean sea.

Free from earthquakes since 1956, destination of historians, archeologists and geologists, Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Le Courbousier were overwhelmed by the island's profound beauty made of contrasts, colors, precipices and plateaus. It was a source of inspiration for both them and jeweler Ilias Lalounis who said he had Santorini in mind when he created the sinuous forms of his collections.

Today, Santorini (perhaps named by the Venetian in honor of Saint Irene, the island's patron saint) is always a scenic thrill, able to maintain the authentic aspects of the Cyclades despite the tourist crowds in both Thira, the capital, and in the villages where time seems to stand still, preserving the white houses and small chapels.


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