Christos Doumas, emeritus professor of archaeology, takes us on a tour of Akrotiri, one of the most spectacular archaeological sites in Europe.
Akrotiri was a settlement with stone-paved streets and squares, a prudently designed zoning plan and an advanced sewage system. The houses were two- and three-story, built with stone and mud. The ground floors housed craftsmen’s workshops and storerooms, mainly for food. The rooms of the upper stories were bathed in natural light streaming in through large windows. Most walls were decorated with elaborate paintings depicting people, animals and plants. The furniture was wooden and the loom was an essential household item, used by the lady of the house to weave the family’s clothes. The inhabitants were traders, artisans, mariners, farmers, stock breeders and craftsmen. They kept flocks of sheep and goats. They planted wheat and barley, which they harvested with stone or bronze sickles. They stored produce in large earthenware jars and cultivated olives, from which they made oil. Indeed, output was so high that they also exported. Wine production was another key economic activity. Locals further supplemented their income by supplying Crete with large quantities of obsidian (black volcanic rock) and metals. Their diet consisted of pulses, vegetables and all sorts of fish, caught in the surrounding waters and sold in the harbor. But their favorite delicacy was snails, brought to the island from Crete.
“ Men, women and children are equally depicted in wall paintings. For this reason, Akrotiri is also called the Prehistoric Venice of the Aegean. ”
This is how Christos Doumas, emeritus professor of archaeology at the University of Athens, describes life in Akrotiri during the 2nd millennium BC. He also speaks about the wealth accumulated on Thera in that distant time from commerce: “The island had trade relations not only with Crete but also with mainland Greece, the Dodecanese, Cyprus, Syria and Egypt.” Thus, the prehistoric Therans, having satisfied their basic needs and thanks to the wealth they gradually acquired, were able to turn their attention to more pleasurable pursuits, for instance the art of good eating. Doumas focuses in particular on how art flourished as a means of projecting social status, and on the democratic structure of Theran society. “It is telling that men, women and children are equally depicted in wall paintings. For this reason, Akrotiri is also called the ‘prehistoric Venice of the Aegean’.”
This then was the situation until the spring of 1613 BC, when the island’s volcano came out of its slumber. The eruption that followed, the most powerful in the world of the past 10,000 years, completely destroyed Santorini (Thera) and the nearby islands. “If there had been no volcano, however, there would have been no Santorini as we know it today and, of course, there would have been no Akrotiri. Thanks to the volcanic ash, the remains of the prehistoric settlement have been preserved down the centuries,” explains the man who has made this place his life’s work.
In 1975 Doumas took over the excavations begun by the eminent archaeologist Spyridon Marinatos. Since then, he has brought to light an incredible wealth of information about the “Pompeii of the Aegean.” And at the age of 82 he continues to work ceaselessly. “We should be proud of Akrotiri,” says Doumas. “It is part of archaeology courses at universities all over the world. In the history of Aegean civilization, it is considered to have equal importance with the Acropolis (for the Classical period) and Mount Athos (for the Byzantine period). It is a momentous legacy.” All this makes a visit to Akrotiri a unique experience. The archaeological site (covering an area of 12,000 m2) is protected by a bioclimatic shelter that is supported by 96 steel columns, designed by the architect Nikos Fintikakis. Specially designed walkways take visitors around and through the settlement, while there are viewing platforms that provide excellent vantage points.
“ The prehistoric Therans, having satisfied their basic needs and thanks to the wealth they gradually acquired, were able to turn their attention to more pleasurable pursuits, for instance the art of good eating. ”
And, of course, at the Museum of Prehistoric Thera in Fira, the experience is enhanced with important finds from the excavations: marble figurines, pottery, bronze implements, cooking utensils and impressive storage jars with designs indicative of their content. Pay close attention to the celebrated Theran wall paintings (Blue Monkeys fresco, House of the Ladies fresco, etc), the work of outstanding artists, as well as artifacts (seals, lead weights, clay tablets inscribed with Linear A script) that provide evidence that the complex society of prehistoric Akrotiri devised and used systems of writing and measurement. That is, they applied methods for the management of goods, developing a type of bureaucracy. Finally, just before leaving the exhibition area, don’t forget to visit the most impressive find: a gold ibex figurine, quite unique, which was found in December 1999 in excellent condition in its wooden case. Concluding our conversation with Professor Doumas, I ask him what Akrotiri means to him personally. “The scene of the… crime,” he replies laughing. “I will always return here, as long as I can still stand. And when you consider that only 3 percent of the prehistoric settlement has been investigated, we archaeologists still have many centuries of work beneath the shelter!”
It was the first time I was attending Travel Expo 2016 and the first exhibition for G&I custom luxury travel. This 3 day exhibition was based in Athens and it was an international Greek Tourism meeting -3rd Exhibition taking place. This was a huge opportunity to be able to meet with over 2000 people from over the world and build relationships with them. Excitement was an understatement!
We had the opportunity in having B2B appointments with agencies / tour operators from Europe, Balkans, Asia, Middle East, USA and Canada. The appointments were approximately 15 minutes in duration and that was enough time at first hand. If not no worries, as we had the privilege of inviting the agents to our amazing bar at our booth for after work drinks 🙂
Let me tell you more about the booth we had in the exhibition hall. The number was C54-56 (how can I forget) of which we shared with our colleagues, Luxury Concierge and Life Line, and what a booth it was! We had a great Seating area for our outside meetings to take place, a bar for coffee and drinks or even snacks. It was an amazing opportunity for G&I and we couldn’t have done it without our affiliates.
by Mairina Chrysopoulo
General Manager & Owner
Orphic Hymn 58 to Eros (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.):
“To Eros (Love), Fumigation from Aromatics. I call, great Eros, the source of sweet delight, holy and pure, and charming to the sight; darting, and winged, impetuous fierce desire, with Gods and mortals playing, wandering fire : agile and twofold, keeper of the keys of heaven and earth, the air, and spreading seas; of all that earth’s fertile realms contains, by which the all parent Goddess life sustains, or dismal Tartaros is doomed to keep, widely extended, or the sounding deep; for thee all nature’s various realms obey, who rulest alone, with universal sway. Come, blessed power, regard these mystic fires, and far avert unlawful mad desires”.
Beauty in Greece is exquisite; timeless; unspoiled. It was in this sacred landscape that love was born. Greece is the birthplace of the winged God Eros, the son of Aphrodite; the God that with his quiver and arrows inspired artists and writers over the centuries to praise the virtues of love. Whether you are looking for an ideal honeymoon destination or just a romantic escape, the beauty and diversity of the Greek landscape forms the most romantic backdrop to celebrate your love.
Search for your fairy-tale romance in the Greek islands, a perfect honeymoon destination bathed in sunlight all year long. Explore with your other half the islands on a cruise and enjoy sun-kissed beaches, superb natural landscapes, cosmopolitan resorts and traditional settlements alike or taste exquisite local dishes. Santorini, Mykonos and Corfu rank among the most popular romantic getaways in Greece but don’t forget to pay a visit to the rest of the Aegean and Ionian islands as well!
Set out on a journey through time and experience the sheer medieval beauty of wonderfully preserved stone-built settlements and fortified towns spread all over Greece. Be the knight or princess of your childhood fairytales in the Byzantine town of Mystras; unveil a medieval mystery in Monemvasia or rediscover romance as you enter one of the largest medieval towns in Europe, the old town of Rhodes.
If you fancy the bustle of big cities however, relish blissful unforgettable moments while walking hand in hand along monumental avenues or narrow pedestrian streets under the city’s lights… How about adding an extra touch of romance?! Catch a bird’s eye view of the city from hilltop viewpoints; sip a glass of wine in a nice atmospheric bar; enjoy a dinner of fine Greek cuisine under the candle lights or search for a beautiful secluded cinema to watch a romantic film!
*originally published on Greece is0 Read More
The island is set to host the first international wine tourism congress this October.
14-16 October at Petros Nomikos Conference Center, Firostefani, Santorini
The popular holiday island of Santorini, also renowned for its ancient grape varieties and its wine, is slated to host the first International Wine Tourism Congress.
The congress will take place at the Petros Nomikos Conference Center in the village of Firostefani and is organized in cooperation between the University of the Aegean and the University of South Australia.
Held under the auspices of the Greek Tourism Confederation, the National Inter-professional Organization of Vine and Wine (EDOAO), the Central Union of Vine & Wine Producing Cooperatives and the Municipality of Thera, the congress will be chaired by Paris Tsartas, professor of tourism at the University of the Aegean, and Yannis Vogiatzis, a winemaker and president of EDOAO. Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris of the Boutari Winery has been named honorary chairman.
The aim of the congress is to address the development and future prospects of wine tourism.
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Santorini’s anonymous builders carved their homes into the volcanic cliffs of the caldera for the sake of expediency. As their uneven, sugar-cube settlements expanded, they created strange gravitational perspectives; cobbled pathways morphed into iconic rooftops, unwittingly becoming aparkour paradise. This perfect playground draws the world’s freerunning elite every year, and the 6th Red Bull Art of Motion – from 28 September to 1 October – will be no exception.
Check out the talent by voting for your favorite 90-second video, and help give one lucky entrant a chance to win free transport to, andaccommodation on, Santorini. While anyone over 16 years can compete in the selection jam on 28 September, the on-site qualifier on 29 September will give a sneak peek at the main event, as 20 winners vie for a coveted spot in the finals on 1 October. Eagle-eyed judges will seek those with clear, original moves, while the rest of us will simply enjoy a show with plenty of freeze-frame moments. Lives are sometimes changed. Take, for instance, Dimitris DK Kyrsanidis, who was catapulted to parkour stardom after winning the 2014 and 2015 editions of Red Bull Art of Motion, all before turning 21. These days, the two-time champ from Thessaloniki travels the world taking part in freerunning contests, living his dream.
Backflips over infinity pools and other gravity-defying acrobatics over the caldera’s steep ledges are the norm in a sport made for volcanic landscapes. It was invented after the 1902 volcanic eruption on Martinique, when a French officer, George Herbert, found himself amazed by the athletic prowess of the indigenous people who routinely leapt over natural obstacles.
You don’t have to be a parkour enthusiast to be swayed by the sudden twists of a sport where passion matters more than experience. The spirit of danger is ever-present as rivals throw themselves into the air with reckless abandon, and bond in a celebration of athleticism that conjures the highest of Olympic ideals.
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