Santorini - a magnet

Few islands in Greece are mentioned as often in ancient literature and myths as Santorini. And during the course of time even fewer have repeatedly changed not only shape but name.

It started as “Strongili” meaning “The Round One” till its latest official name “Thira” and unofficial “Santa Irini” ones.

Santorini was first inhabited around 3000 BC, while the biggest volcano eruption in the history, around 1500 BC terminated this civilisation at its peak and merge the whole island into the sea.

What is seen now, is the main island spooning the crater while the smaller ones curl around the fragmented western edge of the caldera.

It is the main one that will take your breath away with its snow-drift of white Cycladic houses lining the cliff tops and, in places, spilling like icy cornices down the terraced rock. When the sun sets, the reflection on the buildings and the glow of the orange and red in the cliffs can be truly spectacular.

This is what makes artists from all over the world come to paint or photo shoot the place.

A unique black and red rocky giant slab of a layered cake surrounded by the indigo Aegean. A light absorbed by the black ground and reflected by the white houses. Blue of the sea joining the blue of the sky, emitting the red colours of the setting sun.

Nelly was one of the first photographers to discover the magic of Santorini, back in the ‘20s. She managed to tame the harsh Cycladic light and show us the personality of a place in all its charming nudity. Even 90 years later, Nelly’s images remain vibrant, imposing and deeply moving.

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The big bang of Santorini’s popularity started in 1982 when when the billboard of a well-muscled young man in white briefs went up in Times Square in 1982. He was an Olympic pole vaulter photographed by Bruce Weber for a commercial of Calvin Klein’s.

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Behind the scenes Kelly Klein (Calvin’s ex-wife) was photo shooting one of the most beautiful model stars, Iman.

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Meanwhile, a romantic movie was getting filmed on location on Santorini. “Summer Lovers” by Randal Kleiser, and the second film of Daryl Hannah.

Suddenly Santorini was learned all around the world, and tourists starting coming looking for the disco “Kamaki” seen in the movie, and the fish taverns by the water at “Ammoudi port”.

And so all started, finding nowadays photos like the stunning fashion ones by Lauren Ross up to front covers of big fashion magazines.

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….but when you gaze up the sheer and volcanic cliffs

to villages ridged on the crater’s lip

they seem no more than snow at an unknown height…

Christopher Buckley