Santorini is essentially what remains after an enormous volcanic eruption that destroyed the earliest settlements on a formerly single island, and created the current geological caldera. A giant central, rectangular lagoon, which measures about 12 by 7 km (7.5 by 4.3 mi), is surrounded by 300 m (980 ft) high, steep cliffs on three sides. The main island slopes downward to the Aegean Sea. On the fourth side, the lagoon is separated from the sea by another much smaller island called Therasia; the lagoon is connected to the sea in two places, in the northwest and southwest. The depth of the caldera, at 400m, makes it impossible for any but the largest ships to anchor anywhere in the protected bay; there is also a fisherman's harbour at Vlychada, on the southwestern coast. The island's principal port is Athinias. The capital, Fira, clings to the top of the cliff looking down on the lagoon.
Great poets have sung its praises, a 4.000 year old history.
And the eternal rock continues to stand, strong and majestic, rising proudly from the sea and guarding well the secrets of Atlantis
The traditional architecture of Santorini is similar to that of the other Cyclades, with low-lying cubical houses, made of local stone and whitewashed or limewashed with various volcanic ashes used as colours. The unique characteristic is the common utilisation of thehypóskapha: extensions of houses dug sideways or downwards into the surroundingpumice. These rooms are prized because of the high insulation provided by the air-filled pumice, and are used as living quarters of unique coolness in the summer and warmth in the winter. These are premium storage space for produce, especially for wine cellaring: theKánava wineries of Santorini.
When strong earthquakes struck the island in 1956, half the buildings were completely destroyed and a large number suffered repairable damage. The underground dwellings along the ridge overlooking the caldera, where the instability of the soil was responsible for the great extent of the damage, needed to be evacuated. Most of the population of Santorini had to emigrate to Piraeus and Athens
Santorini and Anafi are the only locations in Europe to feature a hot desert climate according to the Köppen climate classification system. Santorini generally experiences two seasons. April to October is the warm and dry season and the cold and rainy season lasts from November to March. Total rainfall averages about 38 cm (15 inches) per year. In the summer season, strong winds can also be observed
Santorini was named by the Latin Empire in the thirteenth century, and is a reference to Saint Irene, from the name of the old cathedral in the village of Perissa - the name Santorini is a contraction of the nameSanta Irini. Before then, it was known as Kallístē, "the most beautiful one"), Strongýlē, "the circular one"), or Thēra. The name Thera was revived in the nineteenth century as the official name of the island and its main city, but the colloquial name Santorini is still in popular use. During the Ottoman Empire's domination of the Aegean Sea, the Turkish exonym for the island was "Santurin" or "Santoron"