Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Village of Oia, Santorini Greece

Our Tour Continues

After concluding our visit at SantoWines Winery, we reboarded our motorcoach for the scenic ride to the Village of Oia. View our photo album, Drive to Oia - Santorini, to get an idea of the scenic countryside of this part of Santorini, Greece.

Arriving in Oia

Pronounced "Eee-ah," the village of Oia is perched high atop the cliffs of Santorini's northern terminus. Known for its quiet beauty and spectacular sunsets, this spot boasts superlative views of neighboring volcanoes.  Following our guide, we strolled through the narrow, cobblestone lanes, viewed the brilliantly whitewashed buildings, shops, sun-bathed caf├ęs and blue-domed churches.

Church of Panagia of Platsani

Today Oia, as an Orthodox village, has the picturesque blue domed chapels, pristine white bell towers and volcanic stone trimmed church doorways dotted all along the caldera cliffs. Each chapel is of course named after the Saint it honors and was built by a local family, many to pray for the safe return of the seafaring members of the family.

There are two main churches in Oia that have a priest conducting weekly services. The Church of Panagia of Platsani is the principal church and located at the center of the village. It was built in the 1800's and maintained in perfect condition.

More than 70 churches, with the characteristic blue domes, dot the countryside of Oia.   The churches resulted due to the maritime life of its inhabitants.  Families would build churches in order to ensure that God would favor them with safe journeys on the sea.

In some cases, the parents and wives of the sailors and the captains  promised to erect a church to a saint so that their beloved ones would come back safely. Upon return from a dangerous voyage, the sailors and the captains also built churches honoring a saint that had kept them safe from bad weather or other dangerous situations.

Consequently, most of these churches are privately owned as they were inherited by the ancestors of each family. Family members were also buried at these churches.  They are typically closed to the public except for on the Saint's Name Day when a festival is held and everyone is invited to attend.

Postcards came to life as we continued our stroll through the village of Oia.  We had time to explore on our own, browsing for souvenirs, enjoying refreshments and marveling at the incredible views. The natural beauty and tranquility of Oia's landscape has inspired artists from around the world, and numerous galleries can be found nearby.

Photo Album:  Village of Oia

In the album above, which can be found on our Facebook Fan Page, we have shared some of our own postcard images captured as we continued our stroll from the center of the village, through the narrow cobblestone lanes, which lead us to the Kasteli (Castle) of Agios Nikolaos. From that vantage point you have excellent views of the volcano and all of the village. If we were still at the castle during sunset, we would be among the hordes of people that have gathered for a breathtaking view.   Our view from the ship was equally impressive.  

We'll share the rest of our day in Santorini in additional blog posts.   Be sure to bookmark this page so that you can follow the rest of our journey.   Also, become a fan (like) our Facebook Fan Page so that you'll be notified of additional stories and photo albums of our 12-Night Greek Isles & Mediterranean Cruise on Star Princess.    We hope you are enjoying your virtual journey thus far.

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