Greece, Santorini – The Pearle of Cyclades Archipelago
Santorini (Thira in Greek language) is a relatively small part of the Cyclades archipelago, with a width of only 6 km and a length of just over 25 km. Its area, however, strongly balances the geographical and geological location of the island and its rich history. Situated 220 km from Athens and 110 km from Crete, Thira has always been an important and often necessary stop on the route between these major shopping centers. As a result, traces of the largest Minoan settlement outside Crete have been preserved on the island.
The most important event that took place on Santorini was undoubtedly the eruption of the volcano on which the island lies. Throughout history, the volcano has been active many times, but the greatest explosion occurred in the Bronze Age. It was an explosion so powerful that it was considered by many Greek authors to be the most important event of Hellenic history before the fall of Troy. According to modern calculations, this explosion could have been one of the most powerful in the entire history of our planet. It took place sometime in the middle of the second millennium BC and the island literally decimated. The attached earthquakes probably spread across the Aegean Sea to the shores of Crete, where, according to some speculation, it could have contributed to the extinction of the then extensive Minoan civilization. Also, after this eruption, speculation about the fallen Atlantis appears for the first time, so many authors associate this myth with the disaster that happened on the island.
The eruption covered the island with volcanic ash and pumice, which is still clearly visible in the geological layer. As a result, Akrotiri, a settlement located on the south-western tip of Santorini, was very well preserved. Today there is an extensive tourist center, which allows its visitors almost free movement on the ancient streets. There are also many interesting frescoes and a gold votive figure of a mountain goat.
Perhaps the most interesting trip to visit is the visit of the Thera Crater. The volcano now has several active volcanos that spring up the mountain sulfur into the sea. On the boat you can approach one such deposit, in good weather you can swim up to it and enjoy the sulfur baths of about 40 °C. The boat then takes the tourists to the volcano crater itself, which takes approximately two hours to explore. It is also interesting to observe the steep black-red inland cliffs of Thira, which create a truly monumental impression.
GPS: (airport) 36°24'02.7"N 25°28'37.2"E
Text and photos: Barbara Nováková
Thessaloniki or Thessaloniki is the 2nd largest Greek city after Athens. It was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1988, and to this day you can see and visit many buildings from the early Christian period and the Byzantine Empire. Due to its location, the city was of strategic importance in the past and is still very popular with tourists.
For ancient Greece enthusiasts, visiting any other city is probably not a “duty”. After all, it is the most important Greek city-state and the center of Hellenic trade, art and politics. Today, the city is a busy metropolis, which has managed to preserve most of its historical legacy, so nothing prevents us from taking a walk where the new and the old mix.
The island of Mykonos is not big, it has an area of only about 100 km². And so the ideal way to travel the whole island is to rent a scooter, motorbike or quad bike. In addition to a varied nightlife, Mykonos is famous for its rugged coastline with beautiful beaches and a very pleasant climate. Today we will go to explore some of its most famous beaches.
Lefkada is said to be a pearl in the Ionian Sea and to have just the most beautiful beaches in all of Greece. The name Lefkada dates back to ancient Greece and was derived from the bright white cliffs at the southernmost tip of the island. And we will take a closer look at this gem together today.
Corfu (Kerkyra in Greek) is one of the smaller islands in the Mediterranean Sea. Most tourists come here with a clear destination - relax on the beach, gyros and tzatziki, ouzo and maybe one or two trips to the most interesting sights. This 60 km long island with a long and interesting history can offer much more.
The title suggests that Crete is island of several great tourist attractions. People who love culture, those who love history and nature or just laying on a beach will all enjoy a stay here. The history of Crete is, however, very colorful. Therefore, it would be a pity to spend your vacation just being lazy on a beach.
A delegate of the company we rented our car from had been already waiting for us once we arrived at the airport. It was apparent that there is some fierce competition among car rental companies. The way how they treat their customers is the consequence of the fierce competition. Once we had settled all documents we needed we get in our car and drove to the west. There are no official freeways so you don’t pay any toll.
We woke up to nice and shinny day. Nobody was on the beach we went to so we just laid around. I recommend you Camp Mithimna, the camp we stayed at. Its owner was very kind and helpful. After a short talk with him we left for Balos, the beach in the northwest on the Gramvousa peninsula.
The longest European gorge of Samaria was another point of interest. The Samaria is located in Crete’s western half. The gorge is in the middle of the White Mountains (in Greek Lefka Ori). The gorge became a national park in 1962 when the inhabitants of Samaria village was displaced. It was situated in the middle of the gorge. Also, the gorge is a world biosphere reserve.
On this day, we planned to make a short trip to the Lefka Ori mountains. Bad weather prevented us from going there. Therefore, we decided to travel to Moni Preveli monastery instead.
We left early in the morning the Agia Galini camp for Phaistos (Faistos) palais. It is considered the second most important Minoan palace (the first one is Knossos). The palace is situated on Kastri Hill which is in central area of the Mesara Plain. Up from there you can get beautiful vista of the Idi mountains.
The next day’s morning we woke up while it was still being dark. Because we spent the night at a cottage, we quickly packed our things. At 6 o’clock we were already heading to Kato Zakros, another important Minoan palace. Unfortunately, the weather was not good. It rained all day. Yet this was no thing that would make us to loose our spirits. At around 8 o’clock we reached our destination. The information in the book guide said it the opening hours start at 8. However, right there we found out it would be at 10. Two hours of additional time meant we made use of them and walked along the coastline.
The last day before leaving Crete by plane we did want to spend in Heraklion. Most of all at the most famous Minoan palace of Knossos. At around 8 o’clock in the morning we left the camp of Sissi. About one hour later we were in front of our hotel. We parked the car and went for Knossos right away. This largest tourist attraction on Crete is only 5 kilometers to the south from Heraklion. Buses depart every twenty minutes for the palace and you pay 3 euro per ticket.
One of the most attractive places on Rhodos east coast is Lindos, a city built in the rock. It has a acropolis and the temple of Athena of Lindos. The knights of the order of Saint John built the greatest local landmark.
An island with a history dating back to the early Stone Age was only discovered in the 1970s-80s. Today, it is a popular holiday destination not only for the mainland, Romanians, Bulgarians and the inhabitants of the former Yugoslavia, who are almost overwater here, but Thassos is stuck in the viewfinder to tourists beyond the borders of Europe. The most popular places include southern Limenaria and Potos.
The green island of Thassos is situated in Eastern Macedonia. It is green because mountain peaks are covered by pine and olive groves. Its rocky shores are washed by the tranquil Aegean Sea. You will not find any airport or industrial zone. That makes the air here great. Thanks to the marble subsoil, one of the best marbles in the world is mined here.
Upon our visit to Litochoro, we moved several kilometers on. Our next stop was a typical Greek village with amazing nature, interesting architecture and amazing vistas.
We stay in the sunny country of Greece also this week. Today, we visit the most popular summer resort on the Olympic riviera – the town of Paralia. This sea resort is about 8 kilometers away from the capital of Pieria prefecture. Paralia is a great place to relax at and have fun.
We end our journey across Greece on Skiathos, an island in the Aegean sea. It makes the Sporady archipelago together with the neighboring islands of Skopelos and Alonissos. If you like Mama Mia musical, this is a total must for you.
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