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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 cruise ships
Santorini sinks under cruise ships

Santorini may be a favourite island for holidaymakers but it's also a must-see port of call for cruise ships and looks set to pose problems for yet another year. Not only its Santorini the most popular Greek island destination for regular tourists but in the spring the island also gets swamped by tens of thousands of cruise ship visitors. Any holidaymaker staying in the island resorts of Fira to Oia will experience the heart sink as the next cruise ship pulls in and thousands pour down the gangplanks before ascending the cliff face to cram the streets. You might think that local shopkeepers and taverna owners jump with joy at the sight of another cruise ships but the sad fact is, Santorini islander benefit little from the extra arrivals. According to Bank of Greece figures, cruise tourism contributes just 8% to the economy of Santorini, compared to 44% for the port of Piraeus, near Athens and 15% to the island of Corfu. And cruise ship visitors spend a lot less in the shops and cafes than other tourists as they mostly hop ashore to take a few photos of the notable Santorini sunsets before climbing back aboard to get their inclusive evening meals. You only have to wander the overcrowded streets above the port to wonder if the drawbacks outweigh the benefits. The Santorini island population amounts to only 15,000 people yet more than 12,000 tourists arrive on cruise ships every day during the summer with almost all of them cramming into the tourist hotspots of Fira and Oia. On busy days, cruise ships queue up for a berth in the caldera and some even transfer passengers on small pleasure boats until they can bag a berth. Add to this the 2,000 or so daily arrivals on scheduled high-speed ferry services from Crete and it results in days when it is almost impossible to find a spot free from the hordes And it's not just tourist on foot that causes problems with overcrowding. Hundreds of tour buses and shuttle services now operate on the island to carry cruise ship tourists around the island sights. Many buses now become trapped in the narrow village streets, especially in the evening when they haul in their passengers to take a photo of the famous sunsets over the caldera. Recent research papers have issued dire warnings if Santorini authorities fail to tackle the problem. The number of houses on Santorini has trebled since 1970 from under 4,000 to more than 13,000. Experts warn of the strain on the island infrastructure, especially the water supply, waste treatment and rubbish disposal. And the soaring number of cruise ship visitors is causing more traffic congestion and environmental pollution while putting a huge strain on energy supplies. Santorini is already one of the most popular for Greek island holidays with around 60,000 tourists beds of which 23,000 are apartments and 12,500 are hotel rooms with the rest taken up by holiday lets. According to the latest figures around 1.3 million-a-year book holidays to Santorini, nearly double the numbers in 2012. Domestic arrivals at the small island airport near Kamari are up nearly 200% since 2009 with passengers complaining of long queues (sometimes up to three hours) and delays in boarding flights, even out of season. New airport owners Fraport-Greece plan to extend the terminal, doubling the floor space and check-in counters to help speed up services. Santorini is not the only tourist hotspot to be troubled by the sharp rise in cruise ship visitors in recent years but, unlike others, appears to be unwilling to do anything about it. Venice, for example, now bans cruise liners above a certain size from berthing near the main canals while authorities on the French Riviera have limited cruise ship arrivals and spread times of day when ships can berth. No such solutions for Santorini so far where cruise ships can arrive all at once and island authorities limiting their actions to managing immediate problems instead of planning for the future.

The caldera of Santorini Greece
Santorini suffers tourism boom

Santorini may be pulling in the holiday visitors; the problem is where to put them all. Tourism leaders on the popular Greek island are delighted and the steady rise in international arrivals at the island airport – up more than a third year on year. And they are flying in greater numbers too with a 400% rise in holiday visitors to the island over the past five years. But the influx has triggered a massive increase in hotel and apartment building on the small island, and not everyone is happy with the results. Santorini mayor, Nicos Zorsos, says he is, of course, pleased at the soaring popularity with visitors but describes the hotel building on the island as 'excessive'. It follows reports that the number of hotel beds on Santorini now is 990 per square kilometre, a number greater than many popular holiday resorts on mainland Greece. The rise in visitor numbers is not confined to the regular summer season. Arrivals in October were 'exceptional' as Santorini markets itself as an all-year-round destination. The tourist season on the island of Santorini now extends from March until Christmas, and more than two million tourists visit each year. But the downside is that around 140 new hotels are poised to open their doors over the winter, helping to make Santorini one of the most crowded islands in the Cyclades. Not all holidaymakers are staying on the island as cruise ships can thousands of visitors each day – around 15,000 daily at the height of the summer. Up-market fashion boutiques, stylish coffee shops and fancy restaurants have mushroomed to cash in on the tourist trade. Goodies on offer include helicopter flights over the caldera, luxury boat hire and scuba diving lessons. It's all good for the island economy but some fear over-exploitation and the loss of valuable rural land. In particular is the threat to the vineyards for which the island is famous. Santorini currently has 2,700 hectares of vineyards and the volcanic soil produced some award-winning wines with the industry providing jobs and significant revenues. But the island building boom and encroaching hotels could see precious vines dug up to make for holiday apartments and boutique hotels. Santorini, also known as Fira, is one of the Cyclades group of Greek islands and has long been one of the top holiday hotspots in the Greek Islands. The volcanic island has villages of white-cube houses perched on top of a sheer cliff face, giving dramatic views of the massive caldera. Islets in the centre of the caldera are still active and the offshore fumes give rise to some of the most dramatic sunsets to be found anywhere in the world. Santorini is also a favourite port of call for Mediterranean cruise ships that ferry in visitors by the thousand while the island airport gets thousand of charter flights over the long holiday season. Despite it's popularity, this is not a great island for beaches. Most are found on the south-east coast and are made up of gritty, grey and black volcanic sand that can sizzle in the summer heat. But the clifftop villages in the west are picture postcard stuff with white cube houses dotted with blue domed churches while glitzy boutiques and classy restaurants cater to the well-heeled visitors.

Santorini tempts winter visitors

Santorini wants more winter visitors to the island and hoteliers are to launch a major initiative to tempt off-peak travellers. Not only have hotel owners been persuaded to stay open throughout the winter months but visitor attraction will keep their doors open too. Without the soft sand beaches of many other Greek islands, Santorini has never actually based its tourism model on the usual sand and sea attractions. Its biggest draws are the amazing cliff-top villages around the rim of a volcanic caldera, some impressive archaeological sites and its world famous food and wine. The plan has the backing of island mayor Nikolaos Zorzos who launched a collaborative initiative 'Santorini: Year-round Destination'. "Santorini may already be acknowledged internationally but we will not rest on our laurels as we are aiming for the island always to be on the top of the traveller's mind," the mayor told a tourism meeting. This winter around 100 hotels on Santorini have agreed to stay open along with a number of restaurants, bars and shops. Other initiatives aimed at promoting all-year-round tourism include keeping transport services active over the winter including regular flights from Athens and daily ferry services. The initiative may well pave the way for other Greek islands to cash in on attracting more winter visitors. As tourist numbers look set to reach record levels this year, the Greek government has already committed to backing moves to extend the tourism season beyond the traditional months of May to September. Alternate Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura added: "I am sure also that Santorini will be an example and encourage other destinations to invest in 12-month tourism." Santorini is well placed to pioneer winter tourism in the Greek Islands with a number of key attractions that don't just rely on sea, sun and sand. Not least is nightlife in capital Thira, which sits on the edge of 300 metre high sheer cliffs overlooking the flooded caldera of an ancient but still active volcano. A favourite docking port for cruise ships, the village along with neighbouring villages of Imerovigli and Oia are famous for their sunset views over the islet-dotted bay. To the south is Akrotiri and one of the finest and best preserved archaeological finds in the Cyclades, if not the whole of Greece. A former Minoan city was buried in volcanic ash around 1500 BC and remained untouched until the 1860s when excavations unearthed paved lanes lined with well preserved three-storey houses. Inland from the holiday resort of Kamari is the site of Ancient Thira where excavations are spread over a long terrace with exhilarating seas views. Regular boat excursions can take visitors on trips to the active volcanic islets that sit in the Santorini caldera such a Palia Kameni and Nia Kameni while the volcanic soils are ideal for growing some of the finest white wine in the world. Santorini certainly has lots to offer the holiday visitor at any time of year.

Visitor guide to Santorini

In the sea just north of Crete, over three thousand years ago during the Minoan Era, sat a volcanic island. Known as Stronghyle to the Minoans of Crete, it became home to a bustling trade port. However, on a day historians of the day still cannot pinpoint, the volcano erupted violently, with cataclysmic results. So great was this eruption that it changed not only the face of the island, destroying all civilisation on its shores, but led to the downfall of the Minoan people, such was its effect on the lands and weather of southern Greece. It wasn't all bad though, as the falling ash and newly formed rock led to the creation of the beguiling and mysterious island we know today as Santorini. With such a violent and interesting past, it might come as a surprise to know that the island is one of the most relaxed and beautiful places to visit in all of Greece. What is the culture like on Santorini? Nowhere in Greece is quite like Santorini, especially when it comes to their laid-back nature. Being a tourist hotspot, you might expect locals to be a bit tired of all the new faces, but in fact, Santorini is known for its friendly residents, who welcome newcomers to their way of life. Here, it is perfectly acceptable to while away the time in the sun, laying out on the unusual dark sand beaches or in one of the many cliffside villa pools. If you really want to go all in on the local culture however, take part in their daily siesta, lasting from 3pm until 5pm; and if you don't, try to keep it down. Towns and villages of Santorini Santorini is home to a number of beautiful towns and villages, all of which are worth a visit if you have the time. If you don't have long on the island though, make sure you check out these three places: Oia – Famous for its architecture, Oia features beautiful white-walled houses, pristine chalky walkways flowing between their cliffside resting places and churches topped with exotic blue domes. In the evenings, residents can look out across the bay of Santorini and watch the sunset over the glittering Mediterranean. The perfect place for a romantic retreat. Fira – Similar to Oia in terms of architecture, Fira is the capital of the island and is, therefore, a bit larger and a bit more lively. It still gets those fantastic sunsets, but when night falls the town comes alive as the hub off all nightlife on Santorini. Clubs and bars aplenty, this is a great place to be if you want to enjoy what the island has to offer in the day and what the city has to offer at night. Pygros – A little-known gem, when it comes to tourism anyway, Pygros is a small village set atop a hill in the heart of the island. A classic example of medieval Greek architecture, the village is great for exploring, with many small side alleys and hidden passageways. On Pygros's highest point sits a beautiful Venetian castle, and from here you can take in the spectacular views of Santorini. Activities on Santorini While it might be one of the most relaxing places in all of Greece, Santorini also boasts a wide variety of fun things to see and do, including: Diving – Out across the western bay of Santorini, divers are treated to one of the most incredible underwater experiences in Europe, let alone Greece. The rich Med waters, combined with the stunning underwater rock formations left behind by the volcano, make this dive spot a truly awe-inspiring spectacle. Watersports – While the sheltered waters may make for an amazing diving location, there is still plenty to do above the waves too. On Santorini's coasts, you can get up to all sorts of watersports, such as jet skiing, surfing, banana boating and wakeboarding. The active water sporting nature of the island is great for anyone who likes to get out on the water, from the very experienced to complete novices. Hiking – When mother earth makes something, she rarely does it with much precision. The Santorini eruptions are a testament to that, as the dark and ominous looking landscape is now warped with steep and jagged cliffs, winding caverns and towering hillsides. While this isn't easy to build on it is absolutely perfect for hikers looking for unique place to explore. Crammed with incredible rock formations, views out onto the Med and stunning coastal walks, Santorini is an unmissable place for any walking enthusiast. Beaches – Finally, we have the usual time-stealing culprit, however, beaches on Santorini aren't exactly what you would call, 'traditional.' The volcanic history of the island means that instead of being glossy and white, the beaches are paved with dark grey, red and black sand. This unusual touch makes for a rather beautiful spectacle. Far more unique than many other beaches you'll find along the coasts of other Greek islands, they are still perfect for a spot of sunbathing or a nice afternoon doze. If you're visiting Greece and want to experience Santorini along with other incredible islands, then book your trip with

Santorini holidays all year round

The popular holiday island of Santorini hopes to pave the way in making the Greek Islands a year-round holiday destination. Island authorities have agreed to promote Santorini as a winter holiday break and cash in on the increased number of flights and ferries. Santorini mayor Anastasios-Nikolaos Zorzos told a meeting in the resort of Firostefani: "Santorini has all the requirements in place to attract visitors throughout the year and has the agreement of all parties involved to immediately work towards extending the tourist season." Santorini has long been one of the most popular summer holiday islands with thousands of visitors arriving during the summer months, including many thousands of cruise visitors and day trippers. The island's volcanic origins have given it a unique spectacular landscape that has turned the Greek island of Santorini into one of the world's top summer holiday destinations. Now increased ferry arrivals, in particular, cheap direct flights from Europe by no-frills airlines like easyJet and Ryanair and the plans for seaplane flights in 2016, has given tourism officials the chance to extend the holiday season throughout the year. Santorini Hoteliers Association President Manolis Karamolegos said sheer market demand for accommodation had led to the decision. He said Santorini has the opportunity to work closely with tourism firms and holiday booking platforms to ensure that accommodation and transport links are synchronised to that all of the island's services, including rooms, flights, charters, cruises and transfers can be arranged in advance. The island certainly has plenty to offer the out-of-season visitor. There are not only the attractive villages perched along the dramatic rim of the volcano caldera, offering spectacular sunset sights but a host of other island attractions too. The archaeological attractions of Akrotiri are world famous. One of the finest and best preserved archaeological sites in the whole of Greece is enclosed by a massive roof structure, recently reopened to visitors. The former Minoan city was buried under volcanic ash around 1500 BC and discovered in the 1860's. Excavations brought to light paved lanes lined with houses full of artefacts in a remarkable state of preservation as well as very fine murals and wall frescos. Another ancient site inland from Kamari is Ancient Thira, a post-Minoan settlement with exhilarating views and a dizzying drop to the sea below. The site has an early Christian basilica, ruins of temples and houses, a huge amphitheatre, rock carvings and even some 3,000-year-old graffiti. Santorini is also famous for its cuisine. The mineral-rich volcanic rock has made the white wines from Santorini much sought after. Many Santorini vines are more than 100 years old, having survived deadly diseases that ravaged crops on many other Greek islands. The island of Santorini is also known for its famous fava beans, its very small cherry tomatoes and for its 'chloro' goat milk cheeses. Also popular with visitors are the boat excursions to the active volcanic islets that sit in the Santorini caldera. The islets of Palia Kameni and Nia Kameni are still active, with a crater on the Nia islet being formed in only 1950. The islet of Thirassia is the other islet, once part of Santorini island, has an attractive port, a fertile inland plateau and a shingle beach at Korfos. Santorini, like Mykonos, has seen visitor numbers increase sharply over the last few years. Most hotels on Santorini are one or two star but the higher end four to five-star hotels provide rooms for up to 40% of island visitors. Santorini enjoys high levels of international awareness are a positioned well in the 'luxury' market. The benefits of making Santorini an all-year-round Greek Island holiday destination are obvious, especially with higher-end visitors, improved tourism services, a steady year-round business operation and more jobs for the islanders.

View over Santorini caldera
Speak Greek on Santorini

Learn the language while on a Greek holiday. Holiday visitors to the popular Greek island of Santorini can pick up the language at a series of 'speak Greek' courses being run over the summer. The Hellenic Culture Centre is organising a series of two-week intensive courses on Greek language and culture on the popular holiday island this year. The courses, which run from June to September, are aimed at non-native speakers and consist of 40 hours of language tuition and Greek speaking workshops as well as 34 hours of educational and cultural activities at no additional cost. The Hellenic Culture Centre is a private organization which specialises in teaching Greek as a second and as a foreign language. Its aims include the promotion of the Greek language and the Greek culture worldwide as well as the development of the linguistic and intercultural skills. It started life in 1995 on the Greek island of Ikaria island in the Aegean Sea, where it organised summer schools with Greek courses, cultural activities and teacher training for teachers of Greek as a foreign language. It continued its work in Athens, where it is now based and now runs courses in selected places in Greece and abroad. Staff are experienced and specialized teachers as well as special associates who work in teaching and research fields and the centre cooperates with organisations in Greece and abroad and participates in national, European and international projects. The Santorini courses include an intensive two week programme of Greek language lessons, language workshops and speaking practice as well as an 'Unexplored Santorini' cultural programme on the rich local history and traditions of the Aegean. The school is based in Megalochori, one of the most beautiful villages on Santorini and one of the few that has protected status as a 'traditional settlement'. The educational programmes can also be attended through grants from the European Commission (Erasmus Plus programme). Find more information at Santorini, also called Thira, or Fira, is one of the Cyclades group of Greek islands and is one of the top holiday hotspots in the Mediterranean. The island has its own airport and ferry port so getting there is easy and it has plenty of good hotels and other accommodation an. The main tourist resort of perches precariously on top of vertical cliffs formed from a massive ancient volcanic eruption offering spectacular views over the caldera and the romantic pull of its famous sunsets makes Santorini a favourite with wedding parties and honeymoon couples. Santorini is a very popular port of call for cruise ships which ferry in visitors by the thousand to gasp at the island's romantic sunset skies and to enjoy the vibrant Santorini' night-life

santorini panorama 3d
Panoramas of Santorini

Panoramic photos of the most spectacular sights. Holiday visitors to Santorini can now recall the highlights of this amazing island with a digital tour which captures many amazing panoramas of the island. A team of Russian photographers has captured some startling panoramic photos of the most spectacular sights on Santorni and placed them online at an interactive website. AirPano is a non-commercial project which is at the cutting edge of high resolution 3D aerial panoramas. The team from AirPano has also created digital panoramic tours of other sights from many different countries across the world. The AirPano team is a group of Russian photographers and panorama enthusiasts and over the next few years they plan to shoot a wide variety of aerial panoramas and create virtual 3D tours of some the most interesting places they can find. The Santorini panoramas taken from more than a dozen sightseeing points on the Greek island can be opened in several different resolutions. High resolution panorama with the best quality is about 7 Mb large and it is suitable for fast Internet connections and modern computers. For slower Internet links and those with older computers the team has created smaller low resolution panoramas where small details have been sacrificed to make the low resolution panoramas no more than 2 Mb. The natural beauty of Santorini, created by a massive volcanic explosion is a perfect choice for a panoramic tour with the white cube village houses spilling down the dark cliffs into the deep blue of the caldera below. Santorini was named by the Venetians after the local saint Irene but, although the name is used across the world, the Greeks still call it Thira or Fira, after the island capital. Continuous volcanic activity has slowly shaped modern Santorini which resembles a sickle surrounding the small active volcanic islets of Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni. The villages of Oia and Fira are a magnet for photographers and artists as well as tourists. They site precariously on the rim of the caldera and enjoy spectacular views and remarkable sunsets. The houses of white and blue cascade down the steep cliff face with roofs of lower level houses often acting as balconies for those above. The traffic free village streets are packed with holidaymakers and cruise ship visitors throughout the summer many of who are day trippers and only here for a few hours to capture the remarkable sunsets for which Santorini is famous.

santorini monolithos church
Santorini plans new marina

'maritime overhaul as tourist numbers soar'. One of the best tourist seasons ever for the island of Santorini has prompted island leaders to consider building a new marina. The move comes as the popular Greek holiday island notches up a record number of visitors in 2013 and a big rise in the number of cruise ships docking here. Santorini authorities are planning a major overhaul of its maritime infrastructure. Provisional studies have already been carries out on building a new marina at the resort of Monolithos on the island's east coast and island authorities are believed to be looking for investors to plough money into the tourist boosting project. Santorini island's mayor, Anastasios Nikolaos Zorzos, said Monolithos would make an ideal spot for a new marina and early studies estimate the resort could have the capacity for 350 boats, including berths for up to 37 super-yachts of more than 25 metres in length. The new marina could not only provide berths for overnight visitors but could also provide a more permanent base for those who have property on Santorini. Provisional plans show the marina covering about 90,000 sq.m of water and 30,000 sq.m. of land. Monolithos is located only five kilometres from the main Santorini resort of Fira and just 2.5 km from the island's airport. Monolithos is currently one of the less visited resorts on Santorini and takes its name from an impressive rock outcrop topped by the church of Agios Ionassis. Monolithos beach is a long and deep strip of grey sand and shingle backed by cliffs. The resort is a popular spot for those who wish to escape the holiday crowds of Fira. A new marina could change all that and is likely to attract plenty of other tourist investment in the area. Santorini expects the number of tourists this year to reach unprecedented levels with a forecast 20% increase on 2012. Island visitors could top 1.8 million by the end of the season. Late season visitors are still arriving, especially those on cruise ships with port authorities declaring 25 cruise ships booked in for November – almost one every day. The latest available data figures for Santorini holiday arrivals show 638,117 cruise passengers visited Santorini in the year to the end of September. Holiday visitor arrivals by ferry amounted to 167,979 in the first six months of the year while international arrivals by air reached 243,589 by mid-October. Domestic arrivals by air reached 170,882 in October and Santorini airport reported the landing of more than 1,000 private jets over the holiday period this year.

The caldera of Santorini Greece
Couples in love with Santorini

Santorini comes top of the weddings table. Romance is in the air on the Greek holiday island of Santorini. It seems that many young couples who take their holidays on Santorini are so impressed they choose to get married on the island. So far this year, more than 1,000 couples have exchanged vows on the picturesque Aegean island of Santorini, according to latest figures from the island's municipal authority. It puts Santorini top of the table as the preferred wedding destination for holiday visitors to Greece and the Greek Islands. And it follows a surge in interest from the Far East with several hundred wedding ceremonies, both civil and religious, conducted for Chinese and Japanese tourists. One leading Santorini wedding agency claims to have booked 150 weddings on Santorini this year with around 100 for Chinese visitors. The wedding ceremony boom comes on top of a surge in interest on holidays in Santorini beach resorts this year. Tourist watchers report an impressive 20% rise in visitor numbers this year and island hotel owners forecast they will have welcomed more than 1.8 million tourists by the end of the 2013 holiday season. Santorini mayor, Anastasios Nikolaos Zorzos, said the surge in tourist traffic makes this one of the best years ever for the island in terms of tourism. The mayor attributed this year's high number of visitors to advertising initiatives to promote the island following last year's disastrous season that came in the wake of Greece's financial crisis. Hotel owners are hoping that recent moves to extend the holiday season will reap even more rewards. President of the Santorini Hoteliers Association, Manolis Karamolegos, said turnover at hotels on Santorini this year was already up 15% on 2012. Although October is traditionally seen as the end of the summer tourist season, island hotels that remain open on the island say they are still enjoying room occupancy rates of up to 70%.

Santorini Firostefani
Santorini running

Santorini hosts running contest. The holiday island of Santorini is playing host to some of the world's best free running athletes. They are competing in the Red Bull Art of Motion Parkour competition on the popular Cycladic island. Organisers say the white cube houses that spill down the side of the Santorini island caldera provide a perfect location for the growing sport. Some of the world's top Parkour athletes from France, Sweden, the United States, the Netherlands, Russia and Greece will be on the island this week compete on the rooftops of Firostefani village. Santorini was selected in 2011 as the top destination for the freerunning competition. Firastefani is found on the road north from the island capital of Fira and almost the same village now given the level of dev elopement on this popular holiday island. The name Firastefani means 'crown of Fira' and the village claims to have the best sunset views, although to be fair most villages along the rim of the caldera make the same claim. Firastefani is now mostly made up of holiday hotels, pools, villas and apartments with a few restaurants and cafes perched precariously along the cliff top. The location of this year's event is the rooftops of Dana Villas and the Sunrock Hotel. Competitors will race over the rooftops without any mechanical aids. Competing this year are eight finalists from the 2012 event, six world qualifiers, three Greek qualifiers and one wildcard qualifier. For more information on the event visit the Red Bull site here.

Santorini festival fireworks
Santorini erupts

Santorini fireworks festival. Holiday visitors travelling to Santorini can expect the volcano island to erupt tonight. The island's Ifestia Festival is its annual tribute to the active island volcano with a spectacular display of thousands of fireworks. It will certainly help lighten the atmosphere on Santorini which has suffered a series of blackouts following a recent fire in the island's only power station. The Ifestia event is fired up every August on Santorini with a fireworks display to represent the eruption of the island's eruption about 3,600 years ago which created the island and its spectacular caldera. Santorini is the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history and is thought responsible for the collapse of the Minoan civilisation on Crete which was hit by a tsunami that came in its wake. Another popular theory claims the Santorini eruption is the source of the legend of the lost city of Atlantis. As well as thousands of fireworks launched from the caldera rim and from boats there are many cultural events and concerts taking place during the festival.

The caldera of Santorini Greece
Santorini power

Santorini visitors in the dark. Holiday tourists on the Greek island of Santorini have been plunged into darkness following a blaze in the island's only power station. Around 150,000 visitors are on Santorini at the moment as the holiday season reaches its peak. Lights went off across the island yesterday when the fire broke out and power has yet to be restored. Shops and stores are lit by candles and tourists drank warm beer and ate salads both on Santorini and the neighbouring island of Thirasia. Repair work started immediately and some power was restored to the airport and to the health centre but may parts of the island will still be in darkness tonight. Taverna owners and food shops are hoping for a quick restoration of supplies as refrigerators and freezers are shut down. A Greek navy ship has been dispatched with back-up generators from Rhodes and Paros while a cargo ship has been diverted to Santorini to help install the generators. Santorini's mayor Anastasos Zorzos is hoping power will be fully restored by nightfall. Meanwhile residents and shopkeepers prepare for another night without power.

Profitis Ilias radar
Santorini monks

Santorini monks take on NATO. The NATO towers surrounding that top Profitis Ilias mountain on the tourist island of Santorini have long been an ugly eyesore. Visitors to the mountaintop monastery enjoy the views over the holiday island but complain of the ugly clutter of NATO radio towers and electronics dishes. Now the monks of the neighbouring monastery say they have had enough as the towers gets a modern upgrade. The monks of the Elias Profitis Monastery have complained at plans to install new NATO radar dishes next door. In an announcement that they will fight plans the monks claim the installation of new radar dishes will turn Santorini into a target for terrorists. And they claim that new building work is going on without proper building permits and that little heed has been paid to environmental impact assessments which list the area as a place of great natural beauty. The 300-year-old monastery perches on top of the highest mountain on the holiday island of Santorini and that makes it a regular destination for visitors. Most tourist love the views but condemn the array of radio towers and clutter of radio dishes which overshadow the monastery and spoil the views. In former times, the monastery possessed great wealth and even ran its own ship. It was also active intellectual centre and even ran a school where the Greek language and literature were taught. But the monastery went into decline and suffered serious damage in the earthquake in 1956. Today, most of the monastery is closed to the public but there is a small chapel next to it that people can visit. Panoramic views from highest point on the island are terrific. But the backdrop of radio towers, power lines and an ugly army base is a great disappointment to visiting tourists.

Kardashians in Mykonos
Celebrity family

Greek Islands bash for celebrities. The mega-rich celebrity Kardashian family has been touring the Greek Islands on a ten-day holiday spree. Sisters Kim, Kourtney and Khloe along with mother Kris and 20 more family members, as well as a TV camera crew of 50, flew to a Mykonos break this week. The family has rented several luxurious villas and hired a luxury yacht for their stay; the TV crew, obviously, were stuck in a cheap hotel. The media savvy family spend their time swimming, sunbathing, snapping pictures and shooting footage for their reality TV show 'Keeping up with the Kardashians'. They all made a decent stab at snubbing the locals and ignoring the paparazzi who quickly surrounded the socialite spenders. Celebrity magazines reported the three sisters walking to the port of Mykonos wearing white bathrobes – as the world held its breath. A bit of a bored diversion from the Mykonos fling has been a row with a Santorini hotel owner over party plate-smashing, Greek style. Local media reported the Kardashians demanding to smash plates at a party in the Santorini hotel but the Greek owner refused. Many holiday visitors to boats to hop between the Greek islands but these had leased a private plane to fly them from Mykonos to Santorini for the day. They shot more scenes to the TV show and tweeted lots of pictures from the island while hordes of photographers prayed for some bikini footage. The idea of a Greek Island holiday came from the Hellenic-American Chamber of Tourism as a good publicity stunt for the Greek Islands and – let's be honest – it's paying off so far.

Santorini cherry tomato
Taste of Santorini

Tourists get a taste of Santorini. Santorini aims to cash in on its unique foods as Greece promotes its cuisine abroad. Santorini island is known for its delicious food products thanks to its volcanic soil and dry climate. Santorini wines and cherry tomatoes for example have their own special flavours, not found anywhere else. Now Santorini is to promote its products with a 'Year of Gastronomy' campaign to highlight the importance of the island not only as a popular tourist destination but as a gastronomic one too. The special weather conditions on Santorini, with so little annual rain, encourages plants to develop extensive root systems. Coupled with the volcanic subsoil, it gives fruits and vegetables a special flavour found only on Santorini. Plants adapting to the conditions on Santorini develop tough skins and delicious fruits that are particularly resistant to the arid weather conditions. As Santorini is such a small island not enough produce can be grown to meet demand, which puts Santorini in a good position to exploit its natural advantages The mayor of Thira, Anastasios Zorzos, said: "Through tourism we try to promote our products as an information plan from the tavernas, the hotels, the wineries and the lodgings already exists." There are already special promotions across many parts of the world to promote Greek food products this year with Greek chefs creating special menus in many top hotels across Europe and the rest of the world.

Across the Santorini caldera
Santorini tops poll

Santorini tops Europe holiday island poll. Greek Islands have taken four places in a top ten list of European holiday island destinations. And the Greek island of Santorini took top place in the Europe top ten with Kefalonia, Naxos and Zante close behind. The islands were voted for by readers of TripAdvisor in one of their regular reader polls. Santorini is famous for its impressive caldera clifftop resorts and for its black volcanic sands while Kefalonia, which came second in the list, has its famous underground caves, golden sand beaches and pine forested mountain interior. The lesser known island of Naxos, which came fourth, is a main ferry hub in the central Cyclades group of Greek Islands and is noted for its swathe of sand beaches along the south west coast. The popular island of Zante, or Zakynthos, comes in with seventh place and is famous for its huge resort of Laganas but has many fine beach resorts scattered around its long coastline. The top ten list of European holiday islands is: Santorini – GreeceKefalonia – GreeceCapri – ItalyNaxos – GreeceOrkney Islands – ScotlandGozo – MaltaZakynthos – GreeceJersey – Channel IslandsSkye – ScotlandFuerteventura – Canary Islands Santorini was the only European island to feature in the World top ten list, making fifth place with Belize taking top spot and featuring islands in the Caribbean, Polynesia, Mexico, Thailand, Chile and Madagascar.

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