Santorini, Fira

(continuer en français) – Published: April 10, 2022

Fira, Santorini, Greece

The island of Santorini is one of Greece’s most popular destinations, retaining a traditional appearance accommodated to the needs of modern comfort. It can be reached both by air and by ferry, 340 kilometres, 211 miles, south of Athens and 150 kilometres, 93 miles, from Crete

With about 2500 inhabitants and five times as many tourists, Fira is the capital of the island of Santorini. Like its neighbour Oia, Fira has developed its tourist district on the slope of a volcano plunging into what was once a crater, now invaded by the sea. In this part of the town everything is done for the tourists, like a big holiday village from which the local life has withdrawn.

The Caldera

It is difficult not to be impressed by the vision of this white city suspended above the void. It is easy to imagine how fragile it would be if a giant were to upset this fragile balance. A giant that could be called an earthquake, the last one dating back only to 1956.

Chapels

When arriving in Santorini, travellers are familiar with the iconic images of domes standing out with the sea in the background. It is possible to find several examples of these while walking along the cornice of Fira. Awareness of the town’s tourist vocation contributes to their regular maintenance.

Orthodox Cathedral

As the capital of the island, Fira is the seat of an orthodox diocese. The church is of recent construction, the 1956 earthquake having destroyed the previous one dating from 1827. However, the interior is covered in frescoes and the richness of the decoration is typical of the Orthodox religion.

Catholic Cathedral

The presence of a Catholic cathedral is quite surprising in a landscape occupied by numerous Orthodox churches. This is due to the conquest of the island by the Venetians in the 13th century. The Turks replaced them in the 17th century but the Catholic cult persisted.

Damaged by the 1956 earthquake, the restoration of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist took about 20 years. Next to it is an imposing Dominican monastery, while the convent of the Sisters of Charity did not resume its activities after the destruction of 1956.

The cornice

The tourist area is entirely pedestrianised. The cornice walkway running through the town is lined with a large number of shops, the level of which is tending to become more luxurious and upmarket to suit the clientele visiting Santorini.

There are also many views over the rooftops and terraces below. The inhabitants often try to decorate their houses with taste or sometimes a little ostentation. Continuing along this cornice path, it is possible to reach Oia, 12 kilometres, 7 miles, further on.

The Old Town

Despite the destruction caused by fires or earthquakes, there are still some older houses. These are well maintained and full of charm. For those interested in the past, it is also possible to visit the prehistoric museum, where the results of the excavations undertaken on the site of Akrotiri in the south of the island are exhibited.

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6 comments

  1. Like so many popular tourist spots, the place has lost much of its flavour, by moving the locals out to make room for the tourists. My son and his wife have been here and say the place is beautiful, but mobbed with tourists. They also say that the donkey boarding area is not a good place to be on a hot day. Eze-le-Village and Cinque Terre are headed for the same fate, I fear. While we loved the 5 towns in Cinque Terre, our favourite little town was the little hilltop town of Volastra, where the tourists only stopped briefly for cool drinks. The local people still live there and add to the colour. Thanks for this post. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, these busy places are busy for good reasons but overtourism has turned them into a caricature of what they really are. There is no easy solution to this. As an individual, I think it’s interesting to get to know these places, but that’s not where you should spend a lot of time. Thank you for your insight.

      Liked by 1 person

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