I had been thinking of Santorini lately. Some people on Facebook had mentioned it was high up in their bucket list, and although I’d been there already, I couldn’t help wishing I could go back soon.
I’d met so many wonderful people at Caveland Hostel, and meeting them really made a big difference in how I saw the world at that time (Read: Solo Backpacking Trip in Europe).
Santorini for me was all about slow days and slower nights, walking aimlessly in the villages of Fira, Oia, and Imerovigli, and wanting nothing more than just to clear my head. It was at this frame of mind when I saw the rocky headland protruding from Imerovigli to the Aegean Sea.
It was called Skaros Rock, Santorini’s first fortress protecting the island from pirates. It also served as Santorini’s capital until the 18th century.
It doesn’t look much now, but people said that Skaros used to have a vibrant population in the medieval times, complete with a castle known as Epano Kastro (“Upper Castle”). During its time, there were around 200 houses in the settlement, mostly Catholics.
Despite its beauty and impregnability from pirate attacks, living on Skaros Rock had its perils from natural disasters like earthquakes. The damage was so bad in the 1700s that the people decided to leave it and move to Fira, now Santorini’s capital.
It was middle of the afternoon when I arrived in Imerovigli via a bus from Oia. I was meandering in the village’s small side streets and alleys when I happened to look out at the caldera and saw Skaros Rock and the small chapel of Agios Ioannis (St. John) down below.
At that time, I didn’t know the rock’s name. There was no one near me whom I could ask about it. I just saw there was a path towards the rock; hundreds of concrete steps descending and then ascending into the peak. It was a path that just begged to be taken, so I did.
While Skaros Rock looked close enough, it still took me almost 30 minutes to reach the end of the path. The view just kept getting better as I went down the stairs. The contrasts between the red and black rocks of the cliffs and the calm blue of the ocean was indescribable.
It was already getting darker and colder when I reached the end of the path, so I decided not to walk up to the peak anymore, nor to go around the rock tip. If you get a chance to go there, do so. You can see more ruins of the ancient houses, and down below, on the northern part of the rock, is the Chapel of Panagia Theoskepasti.
You could see some ruins on the rocks, a mute testament to what was once a bustling settlement. I also found a cavern, the remains of what I assumed used to be a house. From the inside, there was another hole leading deep down into the mountain. What it was for, I had no idea.
I suppose I could have pushed on, discovered more ruins and found a better view. If I had taken advantage of the numerous travel and tours packages offering cheap holidays in Santorini, for example, I’m sure I could have seen more, and done more. I would have been able to “maximize” my trip to Santorini, as some would claim.
And yet, standing there all by myself on Skaros Rock, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. My trek was solitary but much enjoyable, and the view I had of the caldera–even though I wasn’t at the peak–was already priceless.
From a distance, the village of Imerovigli seemed so far away. It was so beautiful and scary at the same time, to feel so all alone and isolated. I didn’t feel lonely though.
For me, that sunset on Skaros Rock only emphasized the fact that no matter what our problems may be, there will always be beauty around us, waiting to be seen and appreciated.
I certainly had my fill of that in Santorini.
Have you been to Santorini? Would you want to go?
If you’re going to Santorini, look for hotels and hostels via Agoda.
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@ Ted: It really is beautiful. Hope you make it there someday!
Greece looks so beautiful. I would love to go someday. Thanks for the inspiration. I love the colors of the buildings and the ocean is amazing too.
@ Freya: I’m so excited for you! Santorini is so gorgeous!
I will most likely be there in October, I cannot wait. It looks such a beautiful place.
haha indeed interesting trash, I’m not sure what it is 🙂
The photos are stunning !
@ Gran Canaria Local: Thanks for the flattery. 😀 I’m not a good photographer, but Santorini’s so beautiful anyone can take good photos there.
@ Mary: I’m 100% sure your family would enjoy Santorini. Just go in the off season when there aren’t so many people.
I have been dreaming of visiting Santorini and hope I get to go there soon. Beautiful photos, Aleah! I have seen photos of the villages and especially Oia but not of Skaros Rock.I’m glad you were able to walk a little bit of it. Love that last photo!
Now, that’s some sunset. We’ve seen pictures of Santorini before. But none as beautiful as yours.
@ James: Santorini is pretty magical. Everywhere you look is beautiful!
@ Mike: Yeah, that trash looked really creepy, especially since there were no other person I could see for miles and it was getting darker! LOL And the place is ancient; if I believed in ghosts and was sensitive, I would probably have seen some.
For starters those gloves “holding on” to whatever that is, creeped me out! I for real thought there was a person trying to crawl up out of a hole at first!! LOL 🙂
I love, love that picture and view of the caldera, Aleah. I too am all about quiet days and nights and unfortunately I don’t get enough of them.
I loved your sign off with “….no matter what our problems may be, there will always be beauty…” Absolutely perfect, our friend! 🙂
Such timeless views here … those whitewashed buildings surely are the stuff of dreams!
@ Steph: I agree; there are places which look good only when photographed by professional photographers. But Santorini’s really different. I’m not a photographer but any picture I took of Santorini shows how beautiful the place really is. You should go visit!
@ Marisol: I remember your photos of Santorini. It makes me envious I’m not as good a photographer as you. LOL I’m glad Skaros Rock was open when I was there. Hoping to go back someday.
Aahh…Santorini, that place that so special and close to my heart. You’re making me miss it. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to hike Skaros because the path was closed off then, not sure why. But we didn enjoy the amazing sight of it. Beautiful photos.
I’m so glad you let yourself to have a fill of Santorini’s beauty despite your state of emotion back then.
I’ve never been to Greece and therefore never been to Santorini, but I’ve seen pictures of it and dreamed of going for years. What I love is that even though I’ve seen pictures taken by all types of photographers across so many different blogs, the city always looks just as beautiful, which makes me think it wouldn’t be one of those places that looks nice on your computer, but then is a disappointment in person.
@ Lance: Yes, definitely go off season. I have heard how crowded it can be during summer. Hope you get to visit there soon!
@ Dana: Thanks. Did you ever get to visit Santorini when you went on your Eurotrip? I would love to go back!
Gorgeous views and great lessons learned by taking an unexpected path. Nice post!
I’ve been trying to make an October to Santorini happen for a couple of years now. I like the idea of going during an offseason. Maybe I’ll make it happen this next year. The one photo with the village in the distance really puts into perspective how close everything might seem, but actually isn’t that way. I tend to think I can walk more than I should.
@ Sand in My Suitcase: Wow, I saw that hotel before I went down to Skaros Rock! I myself stayed in Karterados, near Fira. Yeah, I can imagine it would get very hot. I’m glad to have gone there in the late afternoon.
@ Photo Cache: Sorry I have no idea if there are taxis. I haven’t seen any, but in the port, there were a lot of private tour companies asking passengers if they’d like to hire a car. Definitely go around Fira and Oia. Too bad you only have a day. Can’t you stay longer in Santorini? So envious you get to check out other islands. I would love to see Mykonos as well.
Oh I’m excited to see Santorini. I’m taking a cruise in the fall (already booked and paid, yay!) of the four Greek islands and my plan is to just sightsee on every port of call. Any tips on how to do a day excursion in the island? Are there taxi drivers that double as tour guides? I appreciate any thing/tip that you can give me regarding Santorini.
So fun that you hiked up Skaros Rock too! We stayed at the Grace Santorini which looks right across at Skaros Rock. But we hiked up in the morning, then had to contend with the heat as the sun rose higher in the sky. Don’t regret it though! Good exercise and great views…
@ Em: Santorini is really beautiful. My pictures don’t do justice to it.
Great pictures, would love to go here.
@ Mc Pol: It’s doable; just plan for it in advance 😀
Ganda! Someday makakapunta din ako sa Santorini!:)