Santorini is one of the many Cyclades Islands with which the Aegean Sea is studded an island that during the last decades with its picturesque character and beauty inspired numerous artists, among them well-known painters, photographers and writers.
The poets and Nobel Prize winners George Seferis and Odysseas Elytis praised its unsurpassable presence. Dimitris Vasiliadis exalted the creations of its popular architecture while the Academic Elias Venezis admired them because they are made with modesty and harmony. The famous Greek photographer Nelly’s felt enchanted and with her sensibility immortalized and unique plasticity of the houses, the lyric atmosphere of the landscape and the simplicity of the inhabitants.
The writer I.M.Panagiotopoulos called it ‘the wounded island’. He saw it as another world which ‘… belongs to the peculiarities, the oddities, the paradoxes of the Greek landscape’. And he added ‘…all this white, as the sun makes it shine, as the Cycladic summer sets it on fire, transforms the island into a huge seabird that sways happily inside the absolute blue, light and serene waters of the world. The island’s little towns are covered by shadowy cellars and arched pebble-paved streets. Therein the burning body receives freshness and tranquility’.
Santorini’s idiosyncratic nature, which is the result of the age-long volcanic activity, has become the object of geological studies (the existing volcano is one of the most studied volcanoes-after Vesuvio) while the important finds that have been uncovered in its soil attract the interest of historians and archaeologists alike.
Santorini is a unique place. Lacerated beyond repair by the fury of elements, it stands up against adversities and endows those born on its soil with unequalled vigour and strength. At the same time, it provides them with everything necessary so as to live with dignity.
In the past, its inhabitants used to rely for their livelihood, on the exploitation of volcanic materials, which abound on the island. Thus, for many years, long before tourism became an important sector of local economy, these rocks (or porcelana as locals call them) which were used for insulation and submarine constructions constituted the most important income source for the island. Moreover, its soil because of its volcanic nature produced goods in small quantities but of an excellent quality. So the volcano during the difficult survival struggle of the island did not leave behind only scorched earth but also certain goods.
Nowadays, everything is different. In Santorini, the swift development of the tourist sector during the last decades has had as a result the radical change of life for the locals as compared to the 50s. Currently, it is a modern tourist resort, which has developed swiftly. Every year it swarms with countless visitors. Nonetheless, it manages to preserve its beauty and its picturesque character. The Santorini sunsets are unique and fascinating. The coast opposite the volcano, grey or reddish in some places and blackish in others, falls into the blue sea. The white shapes of the houses hang on the edge of the caldera precipice (the basin, that reaches a depth of 390m). They look as if they stare at the infinity of the Aegean and, as the boat approaches, resemble marks of light on the dark stone. They try to hitch on a stone, a thorn, on the abyss, with the most dangerous means and they succeed very graciously, writes the painter N.Chdjikyriakos – Ghikas. Its beaches with the grey-black volcanic sand offer totally different picture than that of the other Cyclades islands.
Santorini is indeed unique.