Akrotiri Archaeology

Although not the most photogenic place in Santorini, I’ve had to include some images of our visit to the excavation site and museum of Akrotiri because it is without question one of the most important archaeological sites in the world.

First discovered in 1967, the site is to Greece what Pompeii and Herculaeum are to Italy (buried and preserved by the cataclysmic volcanic eruption that collapsed the middle of the island and caused the Caldera that Santorin is famous for today). Akrotiri may not be as spectacular as the ruins at Pompeii, and it’s certainly not as well known, but it’s much older…..in fact it’s reputed to be the oldest urban settlement in Europe dating back approximately 3600 years.

What’s even more amazing is that the ruins uncovered so far are only a fraction of the whole site. The problem of course is that archaeological excavation on this scale and of this importance takes decades of painstaking work and huge amounts of money……..something at the moment the Greek governemnet is sadly short of.

© Mark Simms Photography (2018)

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A Walk to Imerovigli

Stretching North from Fira along Santorini’s Caldera Edge are the villages of Firostefani and Imerovigli. The walk from Fira to Imerovigli is an easy-ish 45 minutes, perfect for a morning stroll with a spot of lunch on the way back.

© Mark Simms Photography (2018)

The Red Beach

I’ve decided to share only one image of the Red Beach, because although it is one of the more famous natural landmarks on Santorini, it is also very dangerous…….and so we only viewed it briefly from the cliffs to the side of the beach from a relatively safe distance.

We were told by a couple of locals that the beach itself used to be much bigger, but over the last few years a series of landslides have eroded the cliff face and reduced the size considerably. It is for this reason that we were advised not to go down on to the beach itself, a warning that we were only too willing to accept……..unlike some other idiots that you can just about make out in the picture below.

Red Beach, Akrotiri, Santorini, Greece, Europe

© Mark Simms Photography (2018)

Fira – Cable Car

The easier alternative to either walking or riding a donkey/mule up and down the 587 steps from Fira to the old port is to take the cable car instead.

Two sets of six connected cable cars have been operating since the early 1980’s, transporting tourists and locals alike up the 738 feet of caldera cliff face in approximately two minutes. In a neat philanthropic solution the owners of the donkeys/mules are actually shareholders in the cable car business ensuring that they don’t suffer any loss of income as a result of the competition.

Cable Car, Fira, Santorini, Greece, Europe

© Mark Simms Photography (2018)

Donkeys of Santorini

In my last post I mentioned that Fira’s old port sits at the bottom of Santorini’s Caldera cliff and is linked to the town above by a steep cobblestone path with 587 steps. Traditionally Donkeys were used to haul goods and people up the cliff, now these Donkeys are used to ferry the hordes of cruise ship passengers and other tourists up and down the steps.

This sort of thing doesn’t really appeal to my wife and I and although the Donkeys looked to be reasonably well looked after and were given plenty of breaks and shady spots to stand out of the baking sun, we chose to take the cable car down the cliff (more of which in the next post) and then to walk back up. It might seem strange to do it this way round, but believe me that because of the sloping angle of the cobblestones it was far easier and safer to walk up them than risk slipping over on the way down.

The observant amongst you will notice that most of the images below are not of Donkeys at all, but rather they are Mules (which admittedly is a cross between a horse and a donkey, so close enough I suppose). However clearly Donkeys are easier to market than Mules, because we saw loads of not-so-cheap tourist souvenirs stamped with images of cute Donkey’s, but not one with an image or even a reference to the humble Mule.

Donkeys, Fira, Santorini, Greece, Europe

Donkeys, Fira, Santorini, Greece, Europe

Donkeys, Fira, Santorini, Greece, Europe

Donkeys, Fira, Santorini, Greece, Europe

Donkeys, Fira, Santorini, Greece, Europe

Donkeys, Fira, Santorini, Greece, Europe

© Mark Simms Photography (2018)

Fira – Greek Orthodox Cathedral

The Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Fira is actually quite modern, it was only built-in the late 1950’s after the earthquake in 1956 destroyed the previous early 19th Century building. Having said that it is much more grand than the Roman Catholic one I posted about last time and is by far the largest and most impressive building in Fira:

Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Fira, Santorini, Greece, Europe

Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Fira, Santorini, Greece, Europe

Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Fira, Santorini, Greece, Europe

Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Fira, Santorini, Greece, Europe

Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Fira, Santorini, Greece, Europe

Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Fira, Santorini, Greece, Europe

Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Fira, Santorini, Greece, Europe

Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Fira, Santorini, Greece, Europe

© Mark Simms Photography (2018)

Fira

Fira (aka Thira) is the capital of Santorini and was the base for our two-week stay on the island. The town holds a dramatic location along the caldera edge, with its white sugar-cube shaped buildings and narrow-cobbled streets clinging to the edge and spilling down the steep cliff side towards the old port of Skala and the sea below:

© Mark Simms Photography (2018)

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