As iconic for its wild volcanic landscapes as it is for its whitewashed cliff-top villages, Santorini is steeped in ancient myth and bursting with natural beauty. Blue-domed churches look out from great heights over a stunning caldera, and warm Mediterranean waters lap at black-sand beaches. Located just up the coast from Fira, Imerovigli is built high on the rocks overlooking the caldera. The bars and clubs found elsewhere on the island are not permitted in Imerovigli, making it particularly serene and picturesque.
Santorini was forged by a massive volcanic eruption—one of the most powerful in history—some 3,600 years ago. The blast left an enormous underwater caldera, several still-simmering volcanic islands, and one flank of the mountainside jutting dramatically out of the sea. Not only is the eruption credited by some with bringing about the end of Minoan civilization, it also is thought to have given birth to the myth of the lost city of Atlantis. This ancient geological upheaval still defines Santorini, from the precipitous cliffs that edge the island to the black-sand beaches and the smoldering isle of Nea Kameni.
Archaeological finds indicate that humans inhabited Santorini as early as 4000 B.C., long before the eruption that gave the island its dramatic caldera. The ancient city of Akrotiri—one of the only Minoan settlements outside of Crete—was destroyed by the natural disaster, but civilization returned here in the 13th century B.C. with the arrival of the Phoenicians. The island was again devasted in 1956—this time by an earthquake—but it now supports a population bolstered by a thriving tourism industry.
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