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Santorini island news and views

The romantic Greek island of Santorini lies in the central Cyclades group of Greek islands. Santorini panders to up-market Greek island holidays with many luxury Santorini hotels to be found. Cruise ships bring holiday visitors to gasp at the romantic sunset skies and turn on to the island's hot nightclubs. Sunset views over the caldera make this a favourite Island for honeymooners.

Santorini Nea Kameni
Santorini volcano watch

Volcano watch on Santorini island. The sunsets of Santorini are one of the island's biggest assets with holiday tourists flocking to see the splendid summer evening sights. Most visitors on a beach holiday and enjoying the Santorini attractions will know that the splendid sunsets are a direct result of the fact that Santorini is a recently active volcano. Now more than €54,000 has been spent on instruments to monitor the volcanic activity on Santorini as part of a plan to turn islands into a long-term earthquake monitoring station. Santorini is one of the best-known and most active volcanic centres in the south Aegean Sea. The island has a large, sea-flooded caldera created by several large eruptions. The volcanic layers that form the island as visible as multi-coloured strata on the impressive steep inner cliff of the caldera, one of the most striking features for visitors on holiday in Santorini when they approach by boat or ferry. Santorini's volcanic activity is typified by several very large explosive eruptions every few tens of thousands of years. The most recent major eruption occurred at around 1613 BC and is known as the Minoan eruption. This late Bronze Age eruption, one of the biggest volcanic explosions in recent history, devastated not only Santorini but also much of the Eastern Mediterranean. Santorini has been active several times in more recent times with many minor and medium-sized eruptions that created the islets of Nea and Palea Kameni inside the caldera. There was significant Santorini volcanic activity recorded in 1925-28 and in 1939-42 with slightly explosive activity that included lava flows and vapour fountains on the islet of Nea Kameni. The last eruption took place in 1950 on the islet of Nea Kameni, which sits in the middle of the caldera. Although considered dormant at present, Santorini volcanism manifests as considerable fumarole activity with several hot springs around the islands. In the current project sea-floor sensors were sank to the bottom of the deep Santorini caldera to monitor any geological activity and sensors were placed at strategic points around the island. An international team of scientists from Greece, France and Spain, is to monitor underwater volcanic activity in the region and to look for signs of deformation after earthquake activity last year. The 24-member research team is also using two submersibles for deep-sea dives in order to gather detailed information on the structure of the Santorini caldera.

Detail of Akrotiri fresco
Treasures on view

Santorini treasures on view again. Holiday visitors to the Greek island of Santorini this summer will now be able to see one of the most important archaeological sites in the Mediterranean. Greece has reopened the Akrotiri archaeological site on the holiday island of Santorini, which was closed nearly seven years ago when the roof collapsed, killing a Welsh holiday visitor. The culture ministry said in a statement that the bronze-age town at Akrotiri will open this week after a new roof was erected to shelter the entire site of the excavation. Akrotiri was a major urban centre in the Aegean until its destruction by a volcanic eruption in the 17th century BC. It was buried under ash and pumice which has helped protect and preserve the buildings and their contents. Visitors on a Santorini holiday can now see four-storey houses and many of the treasures, including spectacular frescoes, terracotta vases and bronze vessels. Tourism leaders on Santorini were angry at delays in reopening the site after rebuilding work was complete. Officials said reopening plans were bogged down in red tape following delays in signing health and fire safety certificates. The original 'bioclimate' roof, which collapsed in September 2005, has now been completely dismantled and a new roof erected with reinforced columns and earthquake proof bearings. The Santorini site of Akrotiri is considered one of the finest and best preserved archaeological finds in the whole of Greece. The Minoan town remained untouched until it was discovered in the 1860s. Archaeologists found paved lanes lined with three-storey houses with an elaborate plumbing system. Houses were full of artifacts including large, unbroken vessels and storage jars. As at Pompeii, in Italy, the finds were of an extraordinary state of preservation as a result of being buried under tons of ash. Last year, prison sentences were imposed on eight people for the part they played in the roof collapse on the Santorini holiday island site.

Santorini cruise ship hits rocks
Santorini holiday cruise ship

Santorini cruise ship crew charges. Visitors on a holiday in Santorini in 2007 will recall the sinking of the Sea Diamond cruise liner in the caldera when two French tourists died. Now a total of 13 people are set to stand trial in connection with the sinking of the Sea Diamond off the holiday island of Santorini. Prosecutors warn they may face serious charges. Prosecutors have recommended to a court in Naxos that the 13 be tried for manslaughter through negligence, breaching the safety of sea transport, causing sea pollution and breaching international safety regulations. The Sea Diamond holiday cruise ship ran aground on an underwater volcanic reef in the caldera of the island of Santorini, just east of the islet of Nea Kameni, on April 5, 2007 at about 4pm. Prosecutors now claim the Santorini holiday cruise ship was only 50 metres from shore when the accident happened and it should have been at least 285 metres away. They say that although the reef was not well marked in sea charts, the ship's sonar should have detected the obstruction and the crew taken evasive action. The 1,195 Santorini holiday cruise ship passengers were mostly Americans and Canadians. They were all reported to be safely evacuated but it was later found that two French passengers were missing. They were later found drowned. The damage led to the holiday cruise ship finally sinking two days later after being moved away from the holiday island and into deeper waters. The cruise ship now lies only 62 metres below sea level but it is feared the wreck could slide deeper into the submerged caldera of Santorini. At the time Greek authorities announced they were charging the captain and five other officers with causing a shipwreck through negligence, breaching international shipping safety regulations and polluting the environment. All six were released until further notice. After the sinking, the residents of Santorini island called for the wreck be raised and removed. Questions were asked as to why the holiday cruise ship was moved to deeper water before it sank. In May, 2011, the Greek Government warned that the costs of raising and removing the Sea Diamond cruise liner would be around €150 million. They say recovering the holiday ship should be the responsibility of the insurers and company that owned the cruise liner. MS Sea Diamond was a cruise ship operated by Louis Hellenic Cruise Lines but they have no plans to date to raise the ship however. Those on holiday in Santorini can see no trace of the ship today.

Impressive finds on Santorini
Anger at Akrotiri

Anger as tourist site stays closed. Anger is mounting on the holiday island of Santorini as the impressive Akrotiri archaeological site remains closed the public even though restoration work is complete. The Akrotiri site on Santorini was shut down more than six years ago when a newly installed 'bioclimate' roof collapsed, killing one UK tourist and injuring several more. Tourism leaders in Santorini are angry at the delay in opening the site despite an assurance by the excavation leaders that the rebuilding work is now complete The original 'bioclimate' roof of Akrotiri was built in 2000, but part of it collapsed in September 2005. The original roof has now been completely dismantled and a new roof erected with reinforced columns and new earthquake proof bearings. Hopes were high that the popular Santorini tourist attraction would reopen this summer in time for the Santorini holiday season. But reopening plans have got bogged down in red tape. Planning officials say health and fire safety certificates have still not been issued while archaeology staff insist they don' have the manpower to compile the necessary reports. Akrotiri excavation directors admit there are still small defects on the site, but believe these should not prevent provisional acceptance of the new roof and that the archaeological site of Akrotiri could be opened to Greek and foreign visitors. Santorini holiday island leaders are angry that, nearly seven years after the disaster, the site is still closed to the public. Fira Mayor Nicholas Zorzos said: "Six years is enough, it must not make seven. I visited the place, saw its details and so I support that it can be opened tomorrow." He says it is outrageous that the Santorini tourist site should stay closed at a time when Greece is desperate for quality tourism Akrotiri, on Santorini, is considered one of the finest and best preserved archaeological finds in the whole of Greece. A Minoan city was buried in volcanic ash around 1500 BC and remained untouched until its existence was uncovered in the 1860s. Excavations unearthed paved lanes lined with three-storey houses and rooms full of artifacts including large, unbroken vessels and storage jars. As at Pompeii, the finds were of an extraordinary state of preservation as a result of being buried under tons of ash. Last year, prison sentences were imposed on eight defendants for the part they played in the roof collapse on Santorini.

The caldera of Santorini Greece
Santorini volcanos

Santorini clue to volcano eruptions. Few visitors to the Greek Island of Santorini will be unaware of the island's volcanic birth in a cataclysmic eruption. Santorini's spectacular sunsets, a hot draw for thousands of holiday visitors, are a result of fumes from the smouldering volcano that lies in the heart of the flooded caldera. More than 3,000 years after the super volcano blew Santorini sky high in a violent explosion, the island may hold clues into how scientist can forecast future eruptions. An article in the journal Nature, claims that the molten-rock magma reservoirs in caldera volcanoes go through a 'pulsatory' period before they explode. It was around 1630 BC that the super-volcano destroyed the original Aegean island of Santorini, an event so violent that some theorists believe that the tidal wave it caused destroyed the Minoan civilisation in nearby Crete. Others claim it triggered the legend of of the lost city of Atlantis. The Santorini explosion was a caldera eruption, a volcanic event that only happens every few tens of thousands of years. Pressure in the volcano chamber builds up because there is no vent to release the molten rock. Eventually it ends in catastrophe, with the top of the volcano ripped off in a cataclysmic explosion and leaving behind a huge bowl called a caldera, the Spanish word for cauldron. In Santorini's case the caldera has filled with seawater Scientists want to be able to predict when such a massive explosion is due. Other calderas include the Yellowstone Park in the US which has already been classified as 'high-threat' in a US geological survey. Now scientists working on Santorini has discovered a link between explosions and the mineral called feldspar. They found of magnesium, strontium and titanium, deposited by the slowly advancing magma. The chemicals give a tell-tale signatures of events over time. From these signatures, the picture that emerges is of 'pulses' of magma injection in the years before a great eruption. Such pulses could today be detected by satellites and terrestrial motion sensors. Long-term monitoring of caldera systems, even in remote parts of the world, is essential if late-stage growth spurts of shallow magma reservoirs are to be detected well in advance of caldera-forming eruptions, say the scientists The Santorini island explosion was even bigger than the destruction of Indonesia's Krakatoa in 1883 and spewed out an estimated 14.4 cubic miles of ash that devastated Bronze Age civilisations in the Aegean. Some say the event inspired Plato's tale, written some 1,300 years later, of the island empire of Atlantis that sank forever beneath the waves.

Santorini donkeys can get poorly treated
Santorini fines

Santorini holiday donkey fines. Santorini donkeys have always been a big hit on Greek island tours but their welfare has often been a problem. Now the first fines have been imposed on Santorini donkey owners for breaching Santorini island animal welfare codes. Fines of €200 have been imposed on 10 donkey owners who breached the code of practice set up some years ago to protect the Santorini donkeys from ill treatment. A spokesman for the Santorini Donkey Sanctuary said: "Some donkey owners were not rotating their animals and they were hitting them with sticks. All this should be prevented now." Donkeys in Santorini have become a major tourist draw. As well as serving local needs s for years they are used throughout the summer season to carry tourists up and down the 600 steep steps that lead from the port to the hilltop resort of Fira. Donkeys and mules are the most popular means of transport in Santorini, carrying bags and luggage, allowing tourists to enjoy their Santorini holidays in comfort. A code of practice set up by the Santorini Donkey Sanctuary several years ago has not been enforced -- until the recent election of a new mayor, who has pledged to improve welfare. Donkey owners must now apply for health certificates and relevant documents proving the working donkeys are healthy and capable of transporting people and luggage on their backs. But Donkey Sanctuary workers are still urging tourists to keep a close eye on animal welfare and to report any concerns about their treatment. Previous spot-checks have found girths embedded in donkey flesh and lame donkeys being forced to work.

View over Santorini caldera
See Santorini and die

See Santorini before you die. The volcanic holiday island of Santorini joins the pyramids of Giza, the temples at Machu Picchu and the Parthenon in Athens as a place you must see before you die. According to an article published by the American magazine Smithsonian, Santorini, is one of '43 places you should see before you die '. The author was 'perched on the edge of the world' when on a Santorini holiday at the Greek island that is considered one of the most spectacular in the world. The article praises the great cuisine of the island, citing Santorini's cherry tomatoes, its fava, the karydopites, the yogurt with honey and, especially, the unique wine-producing volcanic soil. There is not a lot of praise for Santorini's black sand beaches for which there are only two pieces of advice – thick towels and sandals. The volcanic black sand beaches are notoriously hot as they soak up the suns rays. But the unique geography of Santorini and the wild beauty of the landscape should excite even the most demanding visitor, claims the article, while the views overlooking the deep caldera, formed by a volcanic eruption almost 3,600 years ago, are just 'breathtaking'. The Parthenon temple to Athena, in the centre of Athens, also features in the must-see world sights. Around 2,400 years old, the article says the building was once a blaze of vivid colours, painted in red, green and blue and remained intact until a siege in 1687 when a bomb, exploded by the Venetians, destroyed much of the building. A massive restoration effort restored much of the original building and, although the article fails to mention the Parthenon Marbles that were removed in 1801 and sold the British Museum, it does mention the New Acropolis Museum and the Parthenon Gallery in Athens, where all the sculptures of the monument are now preserved.

Megaro Gyzi Centre on Santorini
Santorini festival

Santorini holiday festival opens. Holiday visitors to Santorini island can enjoy music and painting at one of the island's most renowned cultural events. Seven music concerts and a painting exhibition make up the programme for the Megaro Gyzi Festival 2011.  The festival runs throughout August at the Megaro Gyzi Cultural Centre, near the cable-car entrance in Fira, Santorini. Highlights of this year's Santorini island arts festival include jazz interpretations of works by composers Messiaen, Bartok and Ligeti performed by Norwegian saxophonist, Anders Lonne Gronseth, and English pianist, David Skinne. There is also a a special performance by international pianist, Vassilis Tsabropoulos, of his new work titled  'Eros and Soul' which is to be released on disc at some time later this autumn. Also appearing in this year's Santorini festival are mezzo-soprano Katerina Roussou, pianist Alexandra Nomidou and the actress Magda Mavroyanni who will stage a musical performance of Frida Kahlo; jazz trio, Human Touch with their own unique style of jazz and a solo exhibition of paintings by Greek artist Vangelis Tzermias. The volcanic island of Santorini is one of the most popular destinations for holiday visitors on Greek island holidays, thanks to its exciting nightlife, the superb scenery and some astonishing sunsets. Megaro Gyzi is one of the few 17th-century old family mansions to have survived the Santorini island earthquakes of 1956. It was donated by the Catholic Diocese of Santorini for use as a cultural centre in 1980.  The Megaro Gyzi Museum has permanent collections of engravings, historical manuscripts and paintings and photos of Santorini. Admission is free and details of events can be found here at the Gyzi Cultural Centre website

Santorini Akrotiri site
Santorini jail terms

Jail terms after Santorini roof collapse. Prison sentences have been imposed on eight defendants following the death of a Welsh tourist when the roof collapsed at the archaeological site of Akrotiri on Santorini. The 'bioclimate' roof collapsed in 2005 leading to the death of the British tourist while six others were injured, three seriously. The accused faced charges of manslaughter through neglect, causing bodily harm, damaging a monument and violating building regulations. The 12 defendants included civil engineers, architects and construction firm bosses involved in the ambitious roof project which was started in 1999 and which was almost complete at the time of the tragedy. Now six have been jailed for for 50 months each and two others have received 43 months each in prison. The court in Naxos was told one of the pillars that supported the 1,000 sq meter bioclimatic shelter collapsed as 60 visitors were walking round the excavated site. More than 50 witnesses were called to testify at the trial which had been postponed three times. The important Akrotiri archaeological site was closed to the public and work on a new roof began late last year after delays. The Santorini island site is unlikely to reopen until next year.

Across the Santorini caldera
Santorini volcano alarms

Volcano alarms for Santorini. Volcano watchers plan to plant more sensitive seismographs to check earthquake 'rumbles' on the holiday island of Santorini. They are to install new earthquake detecting instruments on the islet of Kameni in the caldera, along mountain ridges and on a beach.The sulfurous fumes that linger in the air around Santorini help to create highly colourful sunsets that are a major tourist attraction. But in recent weeks the characteristic rotten egg smell typical of sulfur has been particularly intense. Scientists now think that magma rising from the bottom of the volcano is increasing pressure on the cone of the crater, which is the islet of on Kameni that lies in the centre of the Santorini caldera. The rate of low intensity quakes in the region has been increasing and this may be explained by rising magma, say scientists. The volcanic caldera of Santorini is unique. The crescent of Santorini, Thirasia and Aspronisi form a circle around the caldera, which is the largest in the world. The volcano has been credited with at least 12 major eruptions. The eruption 3,500 years ago is considered the strongest occurring in recorded history and is believed to have wiped out the Minoan civilization in Crete. The islets of Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni were formed by underwater eruptions about 400 years ago. The last big eruption was in 1950. There are three active volcanoes in this area of the Greek Islands at Milos, Santorini and Nisyros. Santorini islandis the most visited of all three islands, a major tourist holiday island and a regular port of call for travel cruise ships.

Santorini cherry tomato
Santorini tomato

Santorini is world famous for its dramatic setting, live volcano and astonishing sunsets glimpsed from white cubed hill villages perched on the steep walls of the caldera. It is less well known for its cherry tomatoes, a product of Santorini's volcanic soil. But the Santorini tomato has become so renowned in the horticultural world it is about to get its third conference. Experts arrive from around the world for Tomato Conference to be held on the holiday island of Santorini, on 8-9 July at the hall of the Union Cooperatives Theraic Products (Santo Wines). This year's conference will celebrate the recognition of the 'Santorini cherry tomato' as a European PDO (protected designation of origin) product.  This ensures that ensures that only tomatoes genuinely originating from Santorini can trade with the name. For the cherry tomato was once the main agricultural product of Santorini with up to as many as 13 factories operating in the 1950's. But many switched to more profitable winemaking.  The PDO designation has led to greater commercial demand and to more farmers on Santorini turning land over to tomato growing. The Santorini cherry tomato gets its unique character and taste from a hard and thick skin and its high sugar content.  Although called a 'cherry tomato', the Santorini fruit actually comes from a different species, and in two varieties. There is the fluted type and the 'kotiko' type which is more spherical. Both varieties are smaller than ordinary tomatoes, but larger than normal cherry tomatoes. The plants bear more fruit than ordinary tomatoes, ripen earlier, have a deep red colour and, possibly it most important attribute on a 'dry' island like Santorini, requires very little water. And, of course, its flavour – it tastes like a real tomato. Not only that, the Santorini tomatoes have more vitamin C than normal tomatoes and contain the greatest amount of lycopene in any other fruit or vegetable.  Lycopenes have become the focus of great attention because of their antioxidant qualities, a known preventative agent for certain types of cancers. And there is even more good news for the tomato. The lycopenes are not lost in cooking and the Greek staple olive oil even aids its assimilation into humans – a double bonus for tasty and healthy meals. Meanwhile, the conference organizers have invited scientists, researchers and food experts to share their knowledge on the Santorini tomato. And all this in a unique environment, the famous Greek holiday island of Santorini.

Santorini donkey trail
Santorini fall

Tourist dies in Santorini rockfall. An American tourist has been killed by falling rocks on the holiday island of Santorini, according to reports. The 52-year-old is thought to have been riding a hired donkey down a steep cliff-side path when the accident happened. Four others were injured in the incident, two are believed to be the man's wife and daughter and two others are Mexican tourists. Greek police says the rocks probably became dislodged from the towering cliffs above the cobbled path that winds down to the sea from Oia village -- a popular tourist destination on the brim of the island's steep trademark cliffs. Many tourists arriving on cruise ships ride donkeys up and down the steep path from the old port to the village above as an alternative to using the cable car. Santorini mayor, Anastasios Nikolaos Zorzos, said landslides like this were unusual on the island but said geologists would check the area as a safety precaution. Cruise ship tourists are often pestered with offers of mule and donkey ride up a steep, zigzag staircase to the top of the towering cliffs, but most opt for the sedate Austrian-built cable car. Very few people walk the 600 or so steps up to the town as the 250 metre staircase path is heart-stoppingly steep and walkers not only face being brushed aside by galloping mule teams but must negotiate copious donkey droppings on the way. Despite protest from some at the heavyweight burdens the mules are forced to carry (notably obese Americans), the donkey rides prove very popular with visitors to holiday island of Santorini.

Ancient site at Akrotiri on Santorini
Santorini tragedy

Court case on Santorini site tragedy. It appears that a trial is to start to determine who is to blame for the roof collapse at the world-famous archaeological site at Akrotiri on the holiday island of Santorini. Twelve people have been charged in connection with the collapse of a huge steel roof that was built over the remains of the ancient Minoan settlement. The defendants include civil engineers, architects and construction firm bosses who were involved in the ambitious roof project which was started in 1999. The scheme was almost complete at the time of the tragic accident that killed a British tourist in September 2005. It is thought the case will be tried by a court on the island of Naxos. The 'bioclimate' roof collapsed as workers were watering soil that had been laid over it. The accident led to the death of a British tourist, Richard Bennion, 46, while six others were injured. The accused face charges of manslaughter through neglect, causing bodily harm, damaging a monument and violating building regulations. All face jail sentences or fines. The trial has been postponed three times and there were fears that charges could be dropped. A statute of limitations of five years meant the case should have run out of time but a legal technicality has led to the deadline being extended. The important Akrotiri archaeological site on Santorini has been closed to the public since the roof collapse. Work to build a new roof over the site began late last year after being held up by legal complications and official red tape. The site is unlikely to reopen until next year.

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