Walk the stunning towns of Exo Gonia and Pygros in Santorini
There is no better way to fully experience the beautiful towns of Santorini than going on a walk! Santorini is famous for its whitewashed, cube-shaped buildings adorned with blue accents and its steep cliffs. Let’s start off early in the morning and explore the picturesque villages of Exo Gonia and Pygros while on charter in Greece.
When making your plans, talk to your captain about the most convenient way to begin your day on the island. The captain can drop you off at the port of Gialos, the old port of Fira. From the downhill location of this port you can make your way up to the town of Fira by cable car or donkey if you don’t feel like walking the traditional stairs. Of course there are many other ways to reach today’s destinations and your captain will know exactly what the best one is, based on the latest updates. Your private guide and driver will be waiting for you and then it is off to the first village!
Exo Gonia, lying about five kilometers southeast from the capital town of Santorini, Fira, is a small picturesque town that has managed to keep its authentic rural character intact over the years. Built on an inland hill that overlooks the island’s embroidered east соаst and the fertile pastoral landscape, the architecture of Exo Gonia boasts a harmonic medley of old and new. Winding cobblestone alleys, neoclassical mansions, quaint churches and neo-Cycladic buildings compose an impressive picture.
Exo Gonia is the perfect place in Santorini to enjoy leisurely walks and take in the traditional Theran vibes. Quiet streets are dotted with boutique hotels and al fresco tavernas. Strolling along the scenic path, called ‘calderimi’ in Greek, will eventually lead you uphill for an even more spectacular view. When you еnter Exо Gοnia, the imposing church οf Agios Chаralambоs crowning the top of the hill, will probably be the first thing you notice. This ochre-colored church was built as a monastery around 1705 and is one of the three largest churches of Santorini. With its multidomed, red-tiled roof, the panoramic island views from its courtyard are unmatched.
In 1999 an art center was founded in Exo Gonia, named Art Space. Old wine caves were transformed into an art gallery, a museum and a renovated winery. The gallery displays contemporary exhibitions of various Greek and foreign artists. Not only can you admire paintings and sculptures at Art Space, you can also sample the excellent wines from the modern underground winery. In the museum area, the old winery and the distillery, machinery and tools that were used for wine-making are still present and worth your visit.
Next to Exo Gonia, lies Pyrgos, another traditional village that managed to withstand the test of time and was able to hold on to its innocent and romantic atmosphere of a time long past. Pyrgos is also known as Pyrgos Kallistis, meaning “the most beautiful castle.” Declared a European Union protected settlement in 1995, Pyrgos is a typical fortified settlement, and home to one of the five Venetian castles that one can discover on Santorini, referred to as “Kastelia.”
During the Greek Orthodox Easter weekend, the town of Pyrgos transforms into the most magical place in Santorini. On Good Friday, as the procession of the body of Jesus Christ starts along the narrow streets, the entire village lights up by candles that are set ablaze along the hill and the ones carried by the people following the procession. The atmosphere is truly mystical, it is a thrilling experience to watch the village glowing from afar, with flickering flames lightening up the night. On Holy Easter Sunday, the celebration is taken to the village’s main square, with a bonfire, fireworks, music and stalls with lamb rotisseries and fine local wine.
The castle of Pyrgos provides the most breathtaking panoramic views of the island. A fantastic location to wander around and cherish the enchanting aura that still lingers inside its large, well-preserved walls. The castle is probably the most recent one of the five fortified settlements of the island since it was built around 1580. Its position, which was chosen for strategic reasons, offers unique views as it overlooks vast plains and the sparkling Aegean Sea. During the Frankish occupation, the Venetian invaders constructed the castle in order to protect themselves from pirates. They did this by pouring boiling oil on the intruders from the only entrance, the Porta. You can imagine and even feel the glory of the past as you wander around the alleyways. Did you know that there were underground passageways in the castle that could be used in case of emergency as a way to escape? About 70 families used to live on the castle grounds and a second settlement was created outside the walls of the castle, where later on the first school of Thera was founded.
Lunch with a view at La Colline
Your chief stewardess has made a reservation for you and your loved ones at La Colline, a chic and quiet restaurant with incredible vistas of the Caldera and the Aegean Sea. Inspired by the passion and philosophy of the French kitchen, the chef at La Colline takes gastronomy to new heights with his original flavors and mouthwatering dishes.
With over 30 years of experience in the culinary industry, chef Jerome Coustillas has managed to perfectionize the fine balance between flavor, texture and aroma. His passion is to tantalize and surprise your culinary palate while combining the most exceptional recipes with the finest ingredients from the volcanic lands of the Cyclades, to ensure an experience beyond expectations. Jerome has worked at some of the finest restaurants all over the world and cooperated with some of the biggest names in gastronomy. As part of his successful journey, Jerome was the consultant and private chef of the Prince of Morocco.
Experience new culinary revelations in this stunning setting, the perfect way to relax after exploring the beautiful towns of Santorini! Can you spot your yacht, waiting for you, while you raise your glass?
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