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Santorini & Therasia with Anaphi: 1 (McGilchrist's Greek Islands)

Santorini is the Mother of Volcanoes (the crater left by the eruption of Karakatoa in Indonesia in 1883 - the largest of modern times - is between one quarter and one third of the size of that at Santorini). At about two hours before sunset the vast bowl of cliffs and islands below the town begins to fill with a palpable light reflected on the water from the declining sun. The murals from the prehistoric site of Akrotiri dating to the 17th century BC are among the most complete and beautiful to have been found so far. The siting of Ancient Thera is one of the most audacious in the Aegean: on three sides the mountain drops over 300m straight to the sea. A fifteen minute ferry ride to Therasia gives a glimpse of what Santorini was like a few decades back. Anaphi is the most arid of the inhabited islands in the Aegean. It feels like a forgotten frontier, remote and dramatic, whose interest lies in its surprises: the sanctuary of Apollo Aigletes, believed to have been first instituted by Jason and the Argonauts, the tiny church of Panaghia Kalamiotissa silhouetted against the sky, the finely decorated Roman sarcophagus lying in a field.

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