Published on 13/05/18 in In travel
I had arrived in Santorini and, as the boat entered the Caldera, my eyes opened wide at the magical sight. All the layers of the earth had come up from the depths of the sea forming coloured bands of rock that only God could compose. It was an awesome sight made even more stunning as the sun's rays fell upon the layers. The volcanic eruption had created an optical miracle that I never got tired of looking at.
1600BC. Santorini was known as Kallisti (the most beautiful), and the island was round. A happy people lived on it, rich by maritime commerce, the women beautifully dressed. The Minoans influenced its cultural life with wonderful murals, and the fishermen would return with nets full of fish to be enjoyed while drinking the superb local wine. A violent earthquake suddenly made the ground shake and these happy people suddenly felt fear. They abandoned their island, only taking a few precious items with them, and the end of the world quickly followed. An extremely volatile volcanic eruption brought up tons of ash that plummeted into the sky to a height of thirty-five kilometres. A part of the island collapsed into the sea to be completely swallowed up, and what remained is what we see today. A thirty-five metres tidal wave was created that reached Crete in half an hour, where it crashed and engulfed its northern shoreline. Many say that it was this gigantic tsunami that caused the end of the Minoan civilization. It was one of the greatest catastrophes in the history of the planet.
The sky remained dark for a long time. Darkness covered the island that had been destroyed and the ash eventually reached Egypt and the inner recesses of Asia Minor as a northwesterly wind was blowing. As the ash settled over the years, it turned into amazing black rock formations, very much resembling gigantic pieces of coal, and on which stark, white churches would eventually be built. But there is no need to worry today. This fantastic geological phenomenon only occurs every twenty thousand or so years. 3.500 years only have gone by, so we are safe for at least another fifteen thousand ...
With the millions of tourists visiting the island, it felt strange that I was one of the few Greeks to stroll the picturesque streets, listening to all the languages of Babel. At the height of international tourism and expense, it does not stop attracting people even in the winter, especially Chinese people who want to get married and be photographed on the roofs of the island homes and churches with bridal veils puffing out picturesquely against the blue sky, and youthful crowds, resembling so many colourful birds, flooding the steep village of Oia to catch the sunset as seen from the Venetian castle.
I realized that the island had been launched into another stratosphere, just as it had been 3,500 years ago when the cause of its magic had originated. It was all so exciting! An American woman was sitting on a roof top with her legs hanging into the emptiness and gazing at the view in front of her; a Spaniard had set up his tripod and was taking photographs; a Chinese couple huffed and puffed their way up the steep steps with the young woman holding her bridal gown as close to her as possible so that it wouldn't be stepped on; a Frenchman holding his queen's twelve-inch heels and she, in turn, dressed in a long, red gown so that they could be photographed in this spectacular setting -all in the middle of the day. The anchored cruise ships below looking like children’s playthings as they waited on the smooth surface of the sea, a sea that had the most incredible dark-blue colour due to its depth of nearly four hundred metres. Santorini magnetizes and captivates. It stands alone, and the world comes to it... An excerpt from the book GREECE, The Dance of the Seas
The book GREECE, The Dance of the Seas is due to be published soon.
YouTube GREECE, The Dance of the Seas book trailer: