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Home to 13,000 inhabitants, Santorini (Greek: Σαντορίνη, pronounced [sandoˈrini]), known also in the past as Thera (English pronunciation /ˈθɪərə/), is a lifetime dream holiday destination for millions of tourists worldwide. The island is the southernmost member of the Cyclades cluster and is renowned for the majestic caldera, the volcano and the romantic air, alluring many couples for magical moments.
The splendid island, also called Thira, was formed through an enormous volcanic eruption some 3600 years ago that lead to the formation of the circular group of volcanic islands known as Santorini. Another noteworthy detail is that scientists and archaeologists have linked this volcanic eruption with the myth of Atlantis. The picturesque steep cliffs surround a breathtaking, rectangular lagoon on three sides as the main island slopes downward to the Aegean Sea. The smaller islet of Therasia separates the lagoon from the sea on the forth side.
The island, previously called Kallístē (in translation ’the most beautiful one’) received its name from the Venetian crusaders in the thirteenth century, as a reference to Saint Irene, an old cathedral in the village of Perissa. As such, the island began to be known as Santorini as a contraction of the name Santa Irini, the patron saint of the island, who found her last days here. A meandering road along the steep cliffs on the eastern periphery of Santorini leads to the charming town of Oia, located on the northernmost piece of the famous Caldera. This town is abundantly favored by sightseers due to its vibrant atmosphere, with lots of bars, restaurants and inns that are picturesquely situated on promontories, which ensure stunning panoramic views to the Santorini Caldera.
The capital city of Fira is conceivably spotted to the eastern rise of the Caldera. The town is well spread over a few high cliffs, reaching heights of 360 meters above ocean level which makes for a magnificent tableau. Fir, like Oia, is thriving with bars, restaurants and inns that have been constructed in key-points, as to ensure tourists magnificent views of the Caldera. The main port of Santorini resides just below the cliffs and the newly arrived tourists have the chance to experience a unique travelling alternative, via donkey ride through the natural beauty of this island.
Santorini is blessed with majestic natural beauty and untouched scenery forged by the great eruptions. In addition to the caldera, the island is renowned for two small islands of black lava – the youngest formations in the Eastern Mediterranean, which reside in the center of the basin of Santorini. Nea Kameni charms guests with its healing hot springs with therapeutic purposes, as the yellow waters there contain a large amount of sulfur. Furthermore, while here one can explore the magnificent area and experience walking on the solid black lava sides of the steaming volcano. In Nea Kameni you can be dazzled with the discovery of the volcano’s crater, with sulfur steam bursting through its openings, a once in a lifetime sight.
Nowadays, the caldera of Santorini is considered one of the most important geological configurations on Earth, the subject of great research in the geological and archaeological areas and a spectacular sight, to say the least, that everyone should experience at least once.
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