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SANTORINI

Posted by DigiHome on April 21, 2016
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At a glance


Με μια ματιά

  • Santorini is the southernmost island of Cyclades and is located between Ios and Anafi.
  • It is 128 nautical miles away from the port of Piraeus and 63 nautical miles away from Crete.
  • Its size is 76 square km and the length of its shores is 69 km. The perimeter is approximately 36 nautical miles.
  • Thera, Therassia, Aspronisi and the volcanoes (Palaia Kameni and Nea Kameni where the crater of the volcano exists) form the cluster of islands which is called Santorini.
  • It is included, together with Methana, Nisiros and Milos, in the most active of volcanoes in Greece.
  • The three main islands form a”ring” around the Caldera, the bay which was created when the central part of ancient Strongyli sank to the seabed. Its dimensions are 8×5 km and its depth is as low as 370 m.
  • The great crater formed by the volcanic eruption of around 1600 BC, adds to its distinct atmosphere: settlements are built on the edge of the crater’s inner walls and not on the sea level, as in other islands. In addition, Santorini is one of the few places worldwide where architectural complexes of underground rock-hewn houses still survive inside the volcanic soil.
  • The Caldera and the whole cluster of the Santorini islands have been characterized as an area of outstanding natural beauty.
  • The name Thera is taken after the legendary settler Theras of Sparta, who settled in the island and founded the homonymous town in Mesa Vouno approximately the 10th century B.C.
  • The name Santorini was given in 1153 by the Venetians and is referred to Arab geographer Edrisi. It is a pronunciation of both words Santa and Irene (Saint Irene), taken after either from the name of the church in the valley of Therassia, or from the name of the early Christian basilica in Perissa, which is not preserved.
  • The main island, Thera, has a shape of a half moon and is located in the easternmost position of the cluster. The west side consists of the walls of the Caldera which preserve the picture of its geological history and illustrate the different phases of the volcanic activity.
  • There are 13 villages in Thera and 3 villages in Therassia.
  • The capital of the island is Fira. The name derived from corruption of the word Thera, which is the official one.

INFO

Since 1980, thousands of couples from all over the world have chosen Oia and other Santorini villages for their wedding, or honeymoon trip. It is estimated that more than 500 ceremonies take place each year. Orthodox weddings usually take place in churches overlooking the Caldera, such as the Fira Orthodox Cathedral, Aghios Minas, the Anastasi (Resurrection) church in Imerovigli, Aghios Georgios (Saint George) and Panagia Platsani (Virgin Mary) in Oia; Catholics choose the Fira Cathedral.

Geographical information


Γεωγραφικές πληροφορίες

Santorini’s geomorphology is the result of hundreds of thousands of years of volcanic activity.

The island is located on top of the volcanic arc of the Aegean Sea which consists of a series of inactive or active volcanoes spanning approximately 500 km in length and 30-40 km in width. The arc extends from the eastern coast of Greece’s mainland, through to central Aegean Sea and ends at the western coast of Turkey.

The geology of Santorini presents a large variety and wealth.

Prevolcanic are the limestone layers in Prophet Εlias, Monolithos, Gavrilos and the shale rocks in Athinios. Volcanic are the pyroclastics, the lava and the thick layers of Theran earth, which consist the ground of the island. It is as thick as 40 m in the flat land but it is thinner in highlands due to corrosion. It is fertile and favors crops where the economy of the island was based on prior to the development of tourism. Vines, cereals (barley mainly), legumes, fava and, in the older days, cotton have been the basic crops from ancient times.

Santorini is one of the most arid regions of the Aegean Sea, due to lack in underground wells and to very few rainfalls. The climate is temperate and the temperatures are quite high during winter, while in the summer the heat mitigates the wind. This time of season fogs keep moisture in the atmosphere, while many times south winds blow.

In its SE part is located the mountain of Prophet Elias with the homonymous monastery. Next to it is Mesa Vouno where ancient Thera is built.

The eastern side of the island slopes gently to the sea, lined with beaches of black volcanic sand.

History


Ιστορία - Προϊστορία

According to legend, Santorini emerged from the depths of the sea- opinion justified by the timeless activity of the undersea volcano and the geological topography of the island.
The first human remains, dating back to the Stone Age, show that the island has been inhabited since the prehistoric times. There is some evidence of life in the early Bronze Age, in the mid-3rd millennium BC, during the second period of the early Cycladic civilization (2800-2100 BC). However, from the middle Bronze Age (1900-1600 BC), evidence becomes more abundant, showing great development.
In the area of Akrotiri (Promontory), there was a prehistoric settlement with a very important port. The great volcanic eruption in the late Bronze Age (ca.1600 BC) buried the settlement under 30 metres of ash.

Architecture


Αρχιτεκτονική - Γενικά

“As part of the Aegean style, traditional Santorini architecture exhibits an unusual freedom of expression as it incorporates the particularities of the island into the structured environment. The peculiarity of the ground allows for the creation of subterranean buildings under cultivated fields, buildings so closely connected to each other that you cannot tell where one property ends and where the other begins…”.
M. Danezis, 1939, “The Theraic Common Law in the 18th century”.

The basic factor in the creation of the built-up space on the island from the Middle Ages until late 18th century had always been that of safety. Living under circumstances of turmoil and being exposed to pirate raids, the inhabitants were forced to an incessant defensive struggle. Therefore, architecture ought to have had a defensive character,that is to provide security above all.
More or less, it used to serve only essential needs. Far from setting off any stylistic elements, it derived from the particular manner of development and from the structures themselves. This particular architectural morphology owes its existence to exclusively local factors: Social, financial, structural and geomorphological ones. Financial sources were limited, homes were built by unskilled workers (usually the owners themselves). Dwellings were cut in the volcanic lava in an attempt to cover life’s needs in an improvised manner lacking any intention of differentiation.
As time passed, especially from the end of the 18th century onwards, survival demands had been overcome by certain population groups and it was time for the architectural forms to serve other purposes. Lords and people well-to-do could lead a much more comfortable life but they could do it only in a large, comfortable and richly decorated home. The ability of copying foreign models was quickly acquired thanks to the improved techniques, the mobility of artisans and the import of more luxurious materials. Considering mansions, the architecture of 18th and 19th centuries witnessed the artistic intervenes of masters and reflected the models of a great art either in direct or applied imitation according to local singularities. They took advantage of the influences of western or post-renaissance models, not by imitating them but by readjusting them to a simplified local variation that could make use of the structural factors of the place. Classicism and its various forms came to be applied rather late, towards the end of the 19th century, mainly to the mansions of the wealthy, the big churches and public buildings (museum, schools etc.). Even in those buildings that imitated official architecture produced an extremely successful result. The co-existence of vernacular together with those of official architecture within the settlements, produced an extremely interesting effect but also fulfilled the novel requirements of the Theran society and the human needs.

Main types of Settlements & houses
Village settlements fell into three categories:

  • Linear (Fira, Oia, Therassia)
  • Evolved fortified (Pyrgos, Emporeio, Akrotiri village)
  • Rock-hewn (Vothonas, Foinikia, Karterados).

As far as their construction is concerned, buildings could be

  • Rock-hewn (underground)
  • Built
  • Semi-built.

Types of houses were distinguished in:
URBAN & RURAL HOUSES
In Santorini, the original type of residence was like the one found inside the Kastelia. The one-room houses were either stone-built or rock-hewn, usually two-story, due to limited space, and narrow-fronted. An external staircase led to the upper floor. The ground floor accommodated auxiliary spaces, such as stables and storage areas. The homes of the nobles inside the castles probably followed the same rationale, only at a larger scale. When settlements expanded beyond the defensive perimeters, auxiliary buildings were added to the main construction, adjacent or connected to it through the yard, where a significant part of daily activities took place. Urban houses maintained their irregular shapes.
Rural houses had a big yard and auxiliary buildings (an outdoor, usually cylindrical, brick oven, stables, etc.). They were located in the countryside or on the village outskirts. Most of them also had kanaves (wineries).
18TH AND 19TH CENTURY MANSIONS
A few homes from that time survive in all villages. Residential complexes can be found in neighbourhoods such as Sideras in Oia, Frangomahalas in Fira, and at the centre of Mesaria (see also The Unknown Santorini and Attractions sections).  Their foreign influences – Renaissance or Neoclassical or both – are distinct, as their owners had various contacts abroad. They are very imposing, with symmetrical, monumental fronts.
FOLK ARCHITECTURE HOUSES.
These were built by non-experts to cover housing needs; however, they turned out to be artistic works of unique aesthetics. They are the most numerous on the island, mainly characterized by plasticity and simplicity. An interesting fact is that they overlap; they also have domes of different shapes and sizes, and their outdoor spaces are irregularly shaped. Fronts have small openings, windows, and doors with lunettes. This type of house was an inspiration for architects of the early 20th century, such as Le Corbusier, Alvar Aalto and others.
CRAFTSMEN ARCHITECTURE HOUSES
Built by craftsmen, they were bigger and more complex than the folk architecture houses. Most urban houses and churches are typical examples of this category.

Society


Κοινωνία

Immigration was the element that mostly defined how the population evolved in Thera since the 13th century. Like other Cycladic islands it was the place where hundreds of emigrants form all parts of Europe and Greece took refuge. After the fall of Constantinople to the Latins in AD 1204 and the creation of the Duchy of the Archipelago in AD 1207 the Cyclades were overwhelmed by swarms of emigrants who, in their majority but not exclusively, were Venetians.
At the same time and probably a bit later, individuals and families from other European countries such as Spain, Portugal and France made the same move. Those who came from Byzantine territories made up a second large group and they settled down in Santorini and Crete. The third migratory wave consisted of those who came from other Greek parts such as the Peloponnese, the Ionian islands, the Aegean islands, Asia Minor etc. They emigrated to Santorini after the first quarter of the 19th century.
As Nicholaos Aliprantis writes …”all these immigrants, Othodox, Catholic, Byzantine, Latin, Greek were assimilated to the native element and presented a homogenous body, a wondrous medley whose fate and life was common…”.
On the other hand many families had to flee after pirate attacks or natural disasters, a fact which influenced the population development. Their destination was mainly Crete where the Venetians could provide greater security.
In the modern Greek state the island belonged to the prefecture of Thera which also included the islands of Therassia, Amorgos, Anafi, Donousa, Herakleia, Ios, Koufonissia, Shinoussa. In the last two centuries Santorini presented a smooth development of the population, so she had the greater increase in 1851, presenting a slump in 1920 which became more intense between 1951 -1961, when the earthquake forced people to desert the place.

The two doctrines
The residents of Santorini were Christians but belonged in two different doctrines: Orthodox and Roman Catholic. Catholics came from Venetian nobles who ruled the island for centuries. The need for peaceful coexistence of the two doctrines, lead to the joint use of several churches with different altars. The church of Panagia Episkopi had been the “bone of contention” for years.
The poor peasants were Greek Orthodox and were obliged to rent and cultivate the land for the wealthy outlandish Catholic landowners. Catholic aristocracy and Orthodox church owned the best pieces of land.
The feudal system had been applied in the farming of the land and by contract the working peasants worked and got paid by keeping half of the crop. Peasants worked for specific landowners and acquired rights to the exploitation of their land, which they legated to the next generation. In the beggining of the 20th century the situation started to change and the peasants acquired vineyards and properties.
Basic entertainment for the residents were the “veggeres” (gatherings in houses). The Santorinians were interested mainly about their family and village. Their subconscious need was to be united, so as to survive nature’s blows, the financial tightness and the lack of telecommunications. In fact, all jobs were hand-operated, or assisted by animals and winds. Until the years following the 1956 earthquake, in the night they used bulbs, lanterns and lamps. Towards the end of the 1950’s, electricity brought on the island, helped growth.

Santorini in art


Σαντορίνη στην τέχνη - Η έμπνευση

Famous poets and novelists have been inspired by Santorini. George Seferis, Odysseus Elytis, Elias Venezis, I. M. Panagiotopoulos, Tassos Athanassiadis and others have described this unique place in their unique way.
The island has also inspired important painters such as Nikolaos Hadjikyriakos-Gikas, Paris Prekas, Petros Zoumboulakis, Christophoros Asimis, Zoe Alafouzou, Mark Venios, Anna Mendrinou, Diana Antonakatou.
Its settlements have been studied and admired by architects such as Le Corbusier, Savvas Kontaratos, Ioannis Kovanoudis and others.
From previous centuries up to today, Santorini has been captured in photos and videos by thousands of people. Those of the team that accompanied the German archeologist and baron Hiller von Gaertringen (from 1895- 1905) the famous photographer Nelly (Nelly Sougioutzoglou-Seraidari) who visited the island for vacations and her photos were the only to picture Santorini before the 1956 earthquake, to name a few. Also photographer George Ioakeimidis, who recorded on glass plates the landscapes before the 1956 earthquake and before the 1925 and 1949-1950 eruptions. Robert A. McCabe devoted pages for Santorini in his album of Greece titled “The years of innocence” (1954-1965). The list goes on and includes many famous and modern photographers.
Santorini will never stop being a source of inspiration. Perpetually changing, grand, and imperious, it challenges every generation to use its own means and aesthetics in order to confront a phenomenon way above human measures. And it will remain unpredictable and untamed forever.

Industry-Handicraft

Βιομηχανία - Εργοστάσια τοματοποιίας

Tomato is one of the most characteristic products of Santorini. The tomato pulp production together with the one of the wine were the basis of the island’s economy from 1925 till the early 1970’s. Initially the tomato pulp production took place in family manufactures. Later on, the tomato factories were built, which are a very interesting sample of industrial architecture of the time. Some of them in Monolithos, Vlychada and in AVIS beach have been preserved in pristine condition.
The first one had been built between 1925-1926 in Monolithos by D. Nomikos (who took ownership after the others had retired), D. Manoudakis and K. Nomikos. Their logo was a rhombus and the installations are preserved untill present day. Next the factories of Emmanuel and Mina Karamoleggos and the AVIS’s were built in the beach of Vothonas in approximatelly 1935-1936, the later’s installations also to have been preserved until present day. During the Occupation the factories of Stelios Mendrinos (STELLA) in Exomiti, E. Kanakaris in Exo Gialos, Georgios D. Nomikos and S. Prekas in Vlychada had also been built. During the same time, the alcohol factory of Gr. Koutsogiannopoulos built in 1930 in Gialos port below Fira had been converted to a tomato pulp factory. The Santo cannery of Theran Products’ Union of Santorini had been built in the 1950’s in Monolithos.

 

INFO

  • The tomato harvesting started just after the 25th of June and ended in mid August. Farmers transported the tomatos to the factories in 48 kg baskets.
  • Santo Wines, the Union of the Santorinian Producers sells tomato cans and other local products, as well as other private individuals.
  • The factory consisted of the sorting and processing room, the vacuum room, the condensation room and the filling room. There were also warehouses, engine room, a weighing yard and a large yard. Large factories additionally had a residence.

Shipping


Ναυτιλία

In the 18th century there was important economic growth in Santorini –not only because of the agriculture but also to shipping. Many vessels crossed the Aegean carrying goods –it is characteristic that even the monastery of Prophet Elias owned a boat!
Financial growth was remarkable in the 19th century, particularly after the decades that followed national independence until the beginning of the 20th. Shipping had developed too as it carried 7.000 tons of Santorini wine. The owners of the large Theran sail boats were usually their captains and merchants. They sold the wine in Russia and bought wheat which they sold in Trieste or Marseilles, in order to purchase various goods and resell them in the ports of Mediterranean and Greece.
In 1842 Santorini had a fleet of about 150 sail boats of every kind (brigs, schooners etc.) with 1,500 expert member crews. The wealth and prosperity was apparent on the island, since big houses and churches were built at that period.
Most of the sail boats belonged to shipowners from Oia, that pioneered in this sector. Ammoudi and Armeni were in the center of the shipping activity.
Theran shipowners didn’t manage to switch to steam boats which only happened after World War I. Both world wars struck severe blows to Theran merchant navy. Naval traditions still lived on during the 20th century but it was far from the magnitude of the power it used to be in the two previous centuries.
Information on the shipping history of Thera you will find in the Maritime Museum of Oia.

INFO

After the first World War the importance of the Theran merchant navy rose to the international level. Among the patriarchs of the most distinguished families associated with shipping was Petros M. Nomikos, and his successors Markos and Evangelos Nomikos, Loukas Nomikos from Oia, and his successors Nikolaos and Dimitrios Nomikos and after World War II Aristides Alafouzos also from Oia.

Foreign travelers in Santorini


The image of Santorini in 1650-1850 is colored by the narrations of the era’s foreign travelers*.Untitled

Francois Richard
The first narration is of French priest Francois Richard, who together with the Jesuit monks settled in the island in the second half of the 17th century. He gives such information as “…the island’s resources are poor. It does not produce any cereals for its residents to feed except barley and is not irrigated by any streams nor water springs. If the rain doesn’t fill the cisterns, people die from thirst or drink brackish water from some water wells near the sea.Cisterns are carved in solid ground and then are whitewashed. But most of the villages’ houses or farmhouses even churches and chapels are underground. Therefore, many families have over their houses’ roofs the fields, the vineyards and the gardens they cultivate. The island’s poverty has made holidays nonexistent.
Everyone works, even children, and women most of all because they never stop. They weave cotton fabrics but also engage in farming activities. The only thing I don’t like about them is their dress.

It makes you think that they are descendants of the ancient Vakchides who when they did their orgies used to run in the mountains and the valleys having naked arms and wearing short clothes. Their dress is so short that exceeds their knees only by a little… Because they do not consider having their chest uncovered to be inappropriate they also do not hesitate to lift their sleeves and let their arms show when working. The good thing is though that this does not happen with cunning in mind…”

img5_7

G.A. Olivier
Interesting facts for Santorini, its residents and their occupations are given by the emissary of the French Government, G. A. Olivier in his book in approximately 1800:

“The Santorinians are industrious, virtuous and abstemious… The best product of Santorini is its wine known as vino santo. Its taste is becoming better with time and its production is exported almost in full to Russia. The winemakers have carved huge domed «kanaves» within the white pumice. The domed roof seems very solid despite the material being soft”.

Francesco Piacenza
The Italian geographer described in detail the topography of Santorini and its Kastelia in his book published in 1688. He wrote for the Kasteli of Skaros:

“…Built on top of the ruins of an ancient fortified city it is today the capital of the whole island. Being uphill and built high up on the most isolated and steep place, one can only go up with a great effort and with the escort of experienced drivers who climb using their hands and feet (!)… The houses of this Kasteli are no more than 150. It is decorated with a grand rock rising on top of it towards the north. This rock is a powerful well preserved stronghold, that is being constantly maintained so as not tear down on the houses and people beneath it and cause a great catastrophe…”.

V. Fontanier
V. Fontainer, another official visitor who came on the island in 1828 found Santorini in a state of prosperity.:

“… Santorini is an example of people’s skill. This island produces nothing else except wine however no other place in the Archipelagos has in such abundance all the things one needs to live well. No other place is so advanced and so close to Europe than Santorini…”.

 

 

Source : http://www.santorini.gr/