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Information on Santorini

Santorini is essentially what remains of an enormous volcanic explosion, destroying the earliest settlements thereon and leading to the creation of the current geological caldera. Its spectacular physical beauty, along with it's social and cultural attractions have made the island one of Europe's most popular locations.

A giant central lagoon, more or less rectangular, and measuring about 12 km by 7 km (8 mi by 4 mi), is surrounded by 300 m (984 ft) high steep cliffs on three sides. The island slopes downward from the cliffs to the surrounding Aegean Sea. On the fourth side, the lagoon is separated from the sea by another much smaller island called Therasia; the lagoon merges with the sea in two places, in the northwest and southwest. The water in the centre of the lagoon is nearly 400 m (1,300 ft) deep, thus making it a safe harbour for all kinds of shipping. The island's harbours are all in the lagoon and there are no ports on the outer perimeter of the island, and the capital, Fira, clings to the top of the cliff looking down on the lagoon.

The small island cradles a rich variety of landscapes and villages. Visit traditional architecture in the small village of Mesa Gonia containing a mixture of ruins from the 1956 earthquake and restored villas as well as a winery at the foot of the settlement. Pyrgos is another notable village set inland with its grand old houses, remains of a Venetian castle and several Byzantine churches.

Fira is the fiery capital clinging to the rim of the caldera. Nine hundred feet above the port town, you can take a mule or a cable car up the zigzagging steps. A marriage of Venetian and Cycladic architecture, the white cobblestone streets bustle with shops, tavernas, hotels and cafes.

Walking along a path about for twenty minutes will bring you to Imerovigli where you can take in the magnificent views of the island’s unique scenery from the tiny town.

Just above Fira at the highest point of the island is the quintessentially Santorininian town of Ia, also sometimes spelled Oia, with its whitewashed walls sunk into the volcanic rock and its blue domes rising above the sterling beauty of the stunning, russet Ammoudi Bay. At dusk, the town attracts crowds of people venturing to see the sunset. Santorini's sunsets, as viewed from Oia, are reputed to be among the world's most beautiful.

Due to the spectacular and unique natural beauty of Santorini, many Greek singers have chosen the island as the setting of their videos. Greek and Brazilian TV series have been shot of Santorini, as well as some Hollywood movies (e.g. Tomb Raider II). Generally Santorini is a pole of attraction for Greek and international celebrities.

Santorini ranks among top destinations for wedding celebrations for at least 4 years -- primarily for sunset and peace, like those in Oia. Couples often arrive with few friends, stay in Ia (places like Fanari Villas). Groups often arrive in the beginning of the week -- judging by demand for cabrios and number of corteges seen on Mondays compared to weekends.

While the island is full of medium- and top-cost hotels and villas, there are still lots of abandoned caves and modest private houses where noone seems to live for a long time -- even in western Oia where every inch seems to be occupied by some villa. And this doesn't seem to change for years, judging by 2001-2005.

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