NOTA BENE

Notes, comment and buzz from Eugene Kaspersky – Official Blog

July 15, 2013

Santorini: The ancient civilization time forgot, and a volcano wiped out.

Yia folks!

Fate saw to it that I recently found myself on the island of Santorini for a couple of days, which just so happens to be one of the most interesting and unusual places on the planet, and as such finds itself residing comfortably on my list of the top must-see places in the world.

For anyone hearing of Santorini for the first time, it’s a Greek island in the Aegean Sea, 100 kilometers north of Crete and around 200km southeast from Athens – here!

This was my third time on the island, so by now I know quite a bit about the place – and it’s all rather fascinating… so let me give you the inside story here, so you don’t have to trawl through site after site and still not get the real deal…

So, let’s start with the basics: Santorini is a volcano-island. (Yes, that is no doubt why I’ve just had my third trip there!) Or, to put it more precisely, it’s what remains of a volcanic caldera after it erupted thousands of years ago, plus a new, smaller volcano slowly rising up from the sea which now fills the caldera in the center of the archipelago. The walls of the crater are impressively tall – around 300 meters high and made up of black, grey, white and red volcanic rock. The effect is one of unearthly beauty, like being on another planet. A unique bit of topography.

Then there’s the multicolored beaches – civilized sandy ones (which you need to take a car/quad/motorbike to get to), and wild stony ones (only by boat or foot). There’s also the exquisite Greek food (fresh fish, lots of greens, tzatziki; but if you want steak – best wait till you’re back on the mainland), and multi-starred Metaxa… In short, a Mediterranean paradise :).

santorini3

santorini4

santorini5

santorini6

santorini1

You can drive from one end of the island to the other in an hour, even accounting for a little auto-moto congestion in the capital Fira. The nicest hotels of the island are to be found towards the peak of a 300-meter cliff a couple of kilometers north of the capital. Well, I say hotels… really they’re more like beehives. Basically they’re pods that rise up the sides of the crater at 45 degrees, all white and neat, one on top of the other – the roof of one being the balcony of the one above. The floors are joined by thin serpentine stairs that wind and twist all over the place – up, down, across; branching out, going off into dead-ends… basically – a staircase-topology resembling the scar on Dumbledor’s knee!

From the balconies of these cool diagonally-terraced hotel rooms you get a simply staggering panoramic view of the archipelago by day, plus superlatively sublime sunsets. Indeed, the dusk here is so delightful it’s used as a marketing ploy to hoodwink gullible tourists… The ‘best’ views of the sundown are claimed to only be visible from boats out at sea, so unsuspecting visitors fork out for tickets on such vessels only to observe a markedly inferior view of the sunset than that from their balconies. Just remember that if you’re ever here. Don’t be bamboozled!

It’s not just the setting sun that needs to be witnessed but also how it falls behind the whole archipelago, which slowly darkens and is then plunged into twilight… There’s a nice restaurant at the top of the cliff which is the perfect spot for seeing the spectacle!

santorini2

Besides being such a stunning location today, turns out that Santorini also represents a ‘nightmare of history’ too. In the local settlement Akrotiri, an ancient port city was partly dug out. Tour guides say that there are three layers of urban life under there – the most ancient of which is approximately 5000 years old. The upper layer is the remains of a town that died 1500-1600 BC, and this place is real unique: a carefully designed town, complete with two-three storey houses, a sewerage system (!), and a water supply system (!) – 3500 years ago!! Yes – you read that right: long before Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece – during the period of Ancient Egypt!

santorini-acrotiri1

santorini-acrotiri2

santorini-acrotiri3

I’m sure the guide also said something about ‘hot water’… but I didn’t quite catch it. Still, what with the volcano and hot springs – seems plausible (they did, after all, have fonts for washing in).

santorini-acrotiri4

Among the ruins were found remains of ancient furniture, amphoras and frescos.

A mighty ancient civilization once lived here. Was it Atlantis, the city state of legend destroyed by a catastrophic eruption and tsunami? Curiously, no human remains were found in the ruins, indicating that the island probably shook long before the main eruption and the inhabitants had time to get into boats and get the heck outta there. Alas, their endeavors were in vain – no one was saved. The tsunami caused by the earthquake and eruption washed away all the boats – together with the whole coastal population of the Aegean Sea.

The only remnant of life found in the thick layers of tufa and pearl was a mummified piglet (“he chose freedom”, someone joked). Alas, excavations weren’t continued as the budget dried up. That’s a great shame, for this is a unique place, with something closely resembling it being very rare. It needs to be investigated further!

More of D.Z.’s pix…:

santorini7

santorini8

santorini9

santorini10

santorini11

santorini12

santorini13

santorini14

santorini15

santorini16

santorini17A Greek Robin Hood’s Bay :)

santorini18

santorini19

santorini20

santorini21

santorini22

santorini23

santorini24

santorini25

santorini26

The rest of the photos are here.

That’s all from Santorini folks! Yassou!

comments 3 Leave a note

anastasia lee

I love you sharing your travels with us. This is quite beautiful.

0
Reply to conversation

Kostas Karathanasis

Exotic beauty !!

0
Reply to conversation

Stathis

eugene thank you for sharing your pics and reminding us how beautiful greece is

0
Reply to conversation
Trackbacks 3

Eugene Kaspersky @ Santorini | Travel To Santorini BlogTravel To Santorini Blog

温祢古丹岛:无可企及 | Nota Bene | Eugene Kaspersky Official Blog China

Eugene Kaspersky @ Santorini – blog travel to Santorini

Leave a note
July 29, 2015

Icelandic tectonic.

Everyone’s got a basic idea of how this planet of ours is constructed, even primary school kids. It goes something like this: in the middle of the planet is the core – the nucleus; then there’s the mantle, and on the outside there’s the hard crust, upon which you’re reading this blog. But the earth’s […]

July 28, 2015

Iceland: Niceland.

I’d long dreamed of one day getting to the very volcanic island of Iceland for a spot of sightseeing, trekking and leisurely driving. I’d heard great things from friends and colleagues, seen some awesome pics of the scenery there, and heard some of the island’s music, but only recently did I finally find myself spending […]

July 24, 2015

Your car controlled remotely by hackers: it’s arrived.

Every now and again (once every several years or so), a high-profile unpleasantness occurs in the cyberworld – some unexpected new maliciousness that fairly bowls the world over. For most ‘civilians’ it’s just the latest in a constant stream of seemingly inevitable troublesome cyber-surprises. As for my colleagues and me, we normally nod, wink, grimace, […]

July 23, 2015

The tiniest biggest country in the world.

Hi folks! This here post is the last in my mini-series from St. Petersburg. It continues the ‘places to visit‘ theme, but with a difference; for the place it describes resembles a museum, but it isn’t a museum really, I think. Or maybe it is. It claims to be one… Hmmm, whatever it is, it’s […]

July 21, 2015

Railroad feats in St. Pete.

There are different kinds of museums. There are real museums (in the classic understanding of the word), there are expositions, exhibitions, installations… What other words are there for describing such events? Graffiti! Btw, good quality graffiti done in good taste – is it an exposition or installation or hooliganism? The latter I cross out since […]

July 20, 2015

St. Pete from above.

Hi all! To get high up and look down and around, say, from up a mountain… it’s always cool and beautiful. But to fly up above for panoramic views of below – it’s even better. And best of all when it comes to flying for sightseeing purposes is the helicopter. Best of all when it […]

More