15 Apr Oia Village, Santorini
Oia Village – A jewel at the cliff`s edge
If Santorini were a house, then Oia would be its balcony. “In the Doric dialect”, the word oia meant far, because the village was so far from all the other settlements. Up until the 19th century, the village was shipbuilding center known as Apano Meria. We translate it simply as “ the upper side”. Its inhabitants were mostly seamen or ship owners. Every shipowner was also the captain of his craft. His craft was typically crewed by family members.
They loaded their vessels at Ammoudi Harbor with barrels of Vinsanto. It`s a wine made with sundried grapes from the local vineyards and matured in wine cellars known as canavaes. This cargo was often destined for the Black Sea, or for the Orthodox communities of Russia, who used Vinsanto wine for Holy Communion
Saved by an earthquake
Until the 1950s, this small part of the world had no electricity, no paved roads and, of course, no guesthouses or tavernas. Oia was a sparsely settled village, and its narrow ways were graced not by tourists but by the horses, donkeys and mules. We used them to transport goods or for farm work in the nearby vineyards.
All this changed on July 9, 1956, the day of the catastrophic earthquake that flattened the whole village and many other parts of the island. The houses in Oia, which were made of stone and mud, collapsed.
The center of Oia, along with the public squares and churches, was rebuilt within about ten years, along with new homes for the earthquake survivors. Building materials and army personnel were sent from Piraeus for the reconstruction effort.
The new houses were constructed using concrete, with strong foundations and distinctive, barrel-shaped roofs. Around the same time electricity arrived on the island. We got a regular boat service. In 1976, a military airfield was build. Almost immediately the airfield was used for civil aviation. So fligts started, and so did tourism. That is why in Santorini, we say the earthquake was our salvation.
Cosmopolitan and for every taste
What you might not know about the caldera area, so glamorous today, is that in older times it was inhabited by the poorest islanders, who lived in single- story homes. “The good” neighborhood was the inland side of the village, where the grand, two- story captain`s houses were located, with their distinctive architectural features and a characteristic transom window above the entrance.
Today, the traditional village of Oia is one of the most popular destinations for visitors. It is almost as famous as the island of Santorini itself. The castle offers a spectacular view of the sunset. There are a number of world-famous luxury hotels and holiday accommodations with contemporary spa facilities, infinity pools and personal Jacuzzis as well as dozens of dining options for every budget. There is primary school and a secondary school, a health center and one of the most famous bookshops in the world, Atlantis, housed in an yposkafo carved right into the rock.
Walk along the central, you will find a number of jewelry shops, galleries. With this much places to see, it could take you several strolls to find what is perfect for you.
You can reach Ammoudi port by car (you have to circle round the bottom road of Oia village), or on foot. In that case you need to walk down 235 steps. Of course there is another option, to ride a mule or a donkey. Once you reach at the bottom, you will realize that it is a small harbor with fishing boats, waterfront taverns and restaurants. After passing the taverns and the restaurants, there is a path that leads you to one of the most beautiful location for swimming in Oia village. There, at the base of the mountain you will be able to jump off the Cliff-side, as in the movie “The sisterhood in the travelling pants”.
In case you want to taste seafood in Ammoudi, you need to make first a reservation in order to find vacant place. Not all the restaurants in Ammoudi have sunset view. To return back to Oia, better take a taxi. All the restaurants can arrange for a transfer to drive you back to your hotel.
Armeni port is smaller than Ammoudi. Two centuries ago, the inhabitants of Oia used to load ships for wine trading. In order to get there you can take a boat from Ammoudi, or walk down 290 steps. Also, you can ride mules to reach the port. There is a small tavern to have meal or to have a coffee. However, we won`t advise to go there for swimming because there is always the risk of a landslide. So if you go there, you will be on your own.
Oia village with its traditional cave houses and the renowned white-painted buildings will offer you a stunning image that you will never forget!
In order to explore the beauty of nature, the culture and our tradition in Santorini, book with us: Aroma of Santorini, The best of Santorini in a nutshell, in case you are on a short visit. You can also explore more villages than Oia by booking Traditional Santorini (6 hour tour). On the other hand, you can discover not only Oia but also the recipe of happiness. So book our tour Eat like a local and live a private authentic cooking class.
We will offer a private tour that appeals to your interests and tastes; a private tour you will always remember! Because we’ll not only guide you through some of the most charming, hidden corners of Santorini, but we will also shed new light on the most famous spots.