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AEGEAN ISLANDS

Athinios

This is Thera's port and the route that leads to it is rather narrow and winding due to the ground and steep cliffs’ formation. There are cafés, travel agencies etc. It is the starting point for boats that organise cruises around the volcano and Therassia.  
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The settlement of Akrotiri

You can reach the village of Akrotiri by following a really nice route with an impressive view of the island and by crossing its end you will arrive at the prehistoric settlement of Akrotiri that is well-known across the globe. Akrotiri's Kasteli stands out from the top of the settlement and is surrounded by a complex of houses. It is considered to have been built during the first century of Venetocracy. It belongs to the category of fortified settlements and it is similar to the ones of Pyrgos and Emporio. It was also called 'La Ponta' and it was built around the old Goula. Since the spring period of 2012, Goula's owner, who restored it, converted the castle into a laboratory and exhibition room of the traditional bagpipe. Read more in www.laponta.gr.     Info   In Akrotiri you can visit the churches of the Holy Trinity, Ypapanti, Agiou Epifaniou and St Theodosia that is the protector of all castles (Kastelia). You can also find taverns, hotels and mini markets.  
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Vourvoulos

This is a small agricultural village in the north-eastern side of the island that overlooks the plain. St. Eustratios and St. Panteleimonas are the two churches it hosts. There are also taverns, hotels and rooms for rent.   
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Vothonas

It is one of the most interesting villages of Thera regarding its architecture and it has been built on both sides of a cliff that is around 5km long. It belongs to the category of settlements with houses carved into the cliff ('Iposkafa') and its name has been discovered in scripts of the mid 18th century. You will be fascinated by the number of its carved houses with their beautiful gardens and narrow streets. Right outside the village of Vothonas you will come across the chapel of Panagia Trypa or Panagia Sergena that is carved in the high volcanic rock.  
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Episkopi Gonia

It is also called Mesa Gonia. It is built on the northern foothills of the mountain of Profitis Ilias and is characterised by wonderful house complexes. It was named after the church of Panagia Episkopi that is dedicated to the Dormition of the Virgin. It is considered as the most important Byzantine monument of Santorini and it is likely to have been founded by the Emperor of Byzantium Alexio A' Komnino (1081-1118) as a monastery's main temple. The village has always been famous for its wine production due to the large number of old wineries it hosts. Today, there are two wineries open to visitors.  
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Exo Gonia

It is located 8km away from Fira and it is close to Pyrgos and Episkopi Gonia. It is a small village amphitheatrically built on a hillside. There are several beautiful churches, villas and houses many of which retain the island's traditional architecture. You can enjoy the most fascinating view from St. Charalampos.  
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Emporio

It is Santorini's biggest village where you can find anything you need ranging from shops, cafés and restaurants. The medieval Kasteli is its most significant sight as it is an architectural masterpiece that is maintained in a very good state. It belongs to the category of fortified settlements and it was developed as a fortress surrounding the original core of the settlement. The outer (surrounding) houses were the ones that would shape the wall. While entering the castle you will come across the old temple of the Annunciation (Virgin Mary the Messiani). Walking out of Kasteli, you will be impressed by the dominant figure of Goulas (that is a tower-observatory built to protect the lords and inhabitants from any invasion).    
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Gialos

In order to get to Fira’s Old Port, you will need to use the electric cable car. Alternatively, Gialos is connected to Fira by the so-called “Karavolades”, the road with 600 steps.
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Its name derives from the combination of the words 'imera' (day) and 'vigla' (observatory), based on the fact that it is located at the highest spot of Caldera offering quite breathtaking views. Imerovigli and Skaros, where the island's medieval capital was established, demonstrate significant architectural interest while attracting - together with the rest of Caldera's settlements - a large number of tourists. It hosts luxurious hotels, coffee shops, restaurants, mini markets, car rental offices, etc.    
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Karterados

During the 19th century, Karterados was one of the greatest sea captain villages in the island. You will be impressed by the old settlement that is full of carved houses ('Iposkafa') on the right and left side of the streambed. The church of the Holy Sepulchre rises at the centre of Karterados and artistic influences from the Italian ecclesiastical architecture as well as belfries with a tower-like shape are rather remarkable. Its celebration and religious festival takes place 40 days after Easter. There are two more churches that carry the typical local architecture; St. Nicholas and Virgin Mary in the Temple (Glykogalousa).  
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Mesaria

Mesaria is located next to Fira and it was the centre of Santorini's industrial development during the 19th century. Antonios Markezinis established there his knitting units and the "factories" of Venetsianos and Nomikos were built at the centre of this settlement. There are some old houses and carved buildings ('Iposkafa') still retained in Mesaria. The three distinctive villas are the ones that belong to George Emmanuel Argyros, Markezinis and Saliveros. The villa of Argyros was built in 1888. It has been transformed into a museum and it is open to visitors. Mesaria is a lively village located in a real crossing point; it is the spot from which you can head towards the airport, Exo Gonia, Episkopi Gonia, Kamari, Pyrgos, Athinio and Akrotiri. There is a great number of permanent inhabitants and you can find many shops, supermarkets, pharmacies etc.  
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Megalochori

It is located 9.5km away from Fira and it is a beautiful village that is surrounded by vineyards. There are old houses that were built many years ago according to the local traditional architecture as well as old wineries carved in the cliffside. At the very heart of the village you can see the square of 'Potamos' where the churches of the Virgin Mary in the Temple and Sts. Anargyroi are located. It is also worthwhile noticing the highly artistic belfry at the church of St. Mary of the Spring and others as well. The soil at the area surrounding the village of Megalochori has always been fertile. That is the main reason why there were a large number of vineyards that rendered its inhabitants rather wealthy as they used them at the vinification process.    
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Oia

Oia, famous all over the world for its sunset, is a piece of architectural splendour. The castle or “Goulas” of Agios Nikolaos (today's Oia, or Epano Meria, as it used to be called) was built at the north-western edge of the island. The church of Agios Nikolaos, which gave its name to the village, dates back to the 15th or 16th century, and it was carved in the rock. The settlement was built along the line of the so-called “brow” of the Kaldera crater, and consists of groups of rock-hewn buildings, churches, and captains' houses painted in different colours. Thousands of people visit Oia every year to admire its beauty – especially in the late afternoon and evening, when the streets of Caldera are lit thus creating a magical atmosphere.    
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Pyrgos

Built on the foothills of Profitis Ilias, after which its monastery was named Pyrgos constitutes together with its medieval castle one of the most significant sights of the island. In 1995, it was declared "classified historic monument" and it is inhabited throughout the whole year.  
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Finikia

It is located a few kilometres away from cosmopolitan Oia, offering beautiful views of Baxedes and resembling a painting since houses and old wineries have been painted with multiple colours. Local people as well as foreigners (basically artists and intellectuals) have purchased properties in Finikia over the past few years and have managed to restore them. In the past, it was the home to viniculturists, farmers and ploughmen. Finikia was full of old wineries and it is estimated that during the times of prosperity, wineries might have reached the number of 150-200! The church of St. Matrona stands out. It was built in 1859 and it celebrates on 20th October when a great religious festival usually takes place.  
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Firostefani

This small settlement is nearly attached to Fira which makes it rather easily accessible to visitors who can walk through the old path enjoying the beautiful view (there is also access via the Fira-Imerovigli route). This settlement also hosts the Catholic church of Virgin Mary of St. Theodores with the old picture in its temple as well as the Orthodox church of St. Gerasimos. Finally, there are hotels, restaurants, cafés and mini markets.    
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