SANTORINI, February 18, 2017 – When it comes to words that beckon the imagination, Santorini, the southernmost island in the Cyclades of Greece, has them all: caldera, volcanoes, caves, Minoan civilization and the lost city of Atlantis.
From the water, Santorini appears to be a snowcapped mountain ridge in the center of the deep blue waters of the Aegean Sea. Closer inspection however, reveals a breathtaking skyline of brilliant white “sugarcube houses” nestled atop the largest island of a circular archipelago that is the remnant of a volcanic caldera.
On Santorini you quickly discover what captured the imagination of the ancient Greeks and their myriad of mystical legends.
Rising from the watery remains of a once powerful volcano are majestic caldera cliffs that reach heights of 1,000 feet to create some of the most stunning views and dramatic sunsets in Europe.
Picture in your mind skyblue domes perched upon white bleached stone that stares out to the infinite horizon of a vast ocean of blue that defies description. Then imagine sipping a glass of Greek wine by the pool of an elegant boutique hotel that has literally been carved into caves nestled upon the highest point of the island and you have a recipe for heaven on earth.
The village of Imerovigli is just such a place, for it is home to a distinctly unique boutique hotel called Iconic Santorini. With its extraordinary multi-level setting at the crest of Santorini’s mountainous spine, Iconic Santorini has been awarded the honor of “Greece’s leading boutique hotel” for three years running.
Featuring 19 residences and rooftop decks with balconies and terraces that emerge from hideaway caves, guests shed their cares surrounded by the awesome serenity of some of the most idyllic scenery in the world.
In a sense it is the best of two worlds, as visitors can still get their “Greek on” with authentic cuisine, architecture and culture while savoring all the luxuries of 21st century living including private routers for hi-speed wi-fi and COCO-MAT bedding.
The setting is so all encompassing guests often feel as though they have died and gone “Hellenic.”
Santorini has been the site of a dozen or more eruptions over the ages, and it also claims to be the site of one of the largest volcanic explosions in recorded history. The Minoan Eruption, which happened roughly 3,600 years ago at the height of the Minoan civilization, is believed to have been a cause for the decline of the Minoans on the island of Crete some 68 miles to the south. Many experts believe a massive tsunami resulted from the Santorini eruption.
Another popular legend is that the volcanic activity on Santorini is the source of the stories surrounding the mythical lost city of Atlantis.
Today, Santorini is basically the ruin of what was once a single island that became a large rectangular lagoon stretching approximately 7.5 miles in length and 4.3 miles in width. Santorini is surrounded on three sides by cliffs which dramatically slope down to the Aegean.
Visitors to the island can arrive by motorized vehicles, but many cruise passengers prefer to ride to the top on a donkey or take the cable car.
Four of the 12 volcanic eruptions were large enough to form caldera, but the most devastating was the one in Thira which was the most famous single event in the Aegean region before the fall of Troy.
In modern times, cruise ships sail into the caldera providing the stunning “snowy” appearance at the crest of Santorini, but the caldera was formed hundreds of thousands of years ago when the center of the circular island collapsed into the sea.
Perhaps one of the most surprising things about Santorini is the quality of shopping in its hilltop villages. Shop-aholics will have no trouble locating just about all the finest stores, shops and boutiques that are available in New York, London, Paris, Rome and Hong Kong.
Santorini is alluring because it is so distinctive. After a long day of shopping, exploring ancient villages, riding donkeys or just plain old soaking up the sun, return to Iconic Santorini for a glass of wine and the best pistachios in the world.
Savor a breathtaking sunset where omnipotent hands use the entire sky for a canvas. And finally, relish an elegant candlelight meal before heading into your cave to hibernate in anticipation of another day in Atlantis.
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About the Author: Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
His goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.
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