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Oia (Greek: Οία, pronounced [ˈi.a]) is a former community on the islands of Thira (Santorini) and Therasia, in the Cyclades, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Santorini, of which it is a municipal unit.[1] It covers the whole island Therasia and the northwesternmost part of Santorini, which it shares with the municipal unit of Santorini. The population was 1,230 inhabitants at the 2001 census, and the land area is 19.449 km2. The population and land area are distributed as follows: 962 persons on 10.150 km2 in Santorini, and 268 persons on 9.299 km2 in Therasia.


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Architecture

Along the cliff of Oia, houses have been delved into the porous volcanic rock (left over from a large volcanic explosion many years ago that sunk the center of the island). Parts of these houses are visible and the scenery that results from it is generally perceived as being typically Greek. The town is noted for its picturesque architecture, unique for its blend of relatively large (for the town's space) medieval Venetian houses (dubbed "kapetanea" gr: "καπετανέα" - as they belonged to the captains) with small incave village homes, called "yposkafa" (gr: "υπόσκαφα", caved-in) which were the housing form of the rest of the town's population. This is a reminiscent of the age of Venetian rule over the island. Other attributes of this era are the large Catholic population as well as the medieval fortifications to protect from pirates. To this day laws protect the natural and architectural beauty of the town from modern manifestations, such as public electrical wires.

Oia

Oia

Oia

Oia

Oia

Oia

Tourism

Oia remains one of the foremost tourist attractions of the Aegean Sea. The famous Oia sunset, considered by many as one of the most beautiful in the world, keeps tourists flocking down to the castle, waiting for the moment when the sun slips down on the calm sea of the caldera. Tourists are often told that the fishing docks at Oia are the oldest continually used docks in the world, supposedly being in service for 3000 years. While an interesting bit of tourist trivia, no evidence is supplied to validate the claim.

Sunset at Oia
Sunset
Oia
Sunset Santorini style.

In the evening hordes of people arrive simply to watch its sunset. Every available seat, wall, step or patch of ground is occupied and picnicking while watching the sunset is almost de rigueur.

A common method for enjoying the sunset is to take one of the boat charters from the docks at Thira. After visiting the volcano in the middle of the caldera, the boat will visit the opposite island for a time before heading out a mile or so from the island. At sunset the boat will sail in a figure 8 until the sun goes below the horizon, providing a long view of the setting sun and ample photographic opportunities.

Naval Maritime Museum

A 19th century mansion has been restored and converted into a museum that houses the Maritime History of Thira. Rare figureheads, Seamens' Chests, old maritime equipment, carrening drawings and patterns, models of old and new Thiran ships, acquarelles featuring old sailing vessels as well as rare photographs and a library, all register year by year the contribution of the Thirans to the glorious history of the Hellenic Navy. Oia reached the peak of prosperity in the late 19th & early 20th century. Its economic prosperity was based on its merchant fleet which plied trade in the Eastern Mediterranean, especially from Alexandria to Russia. Hence the two-story captains houses built on the highest part of the village which are a reminder of the village's former affluence.

Oia in books and films

Louise Candlish's 2007 novel Since I Don't Have You is set in Oia and London.[2] Oia was the center of most of the story in the 1982 movie Summer Lovers. In 2004, it was used for the location of a few scenes in the movie The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and again for The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2. Oia was also featured in the opening sequences of the film Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life starring Angelina Jolie. The jet ski chase scenes were shot in and around Ammoudi, the old fishing port below Oia.

External links

www.santorini360hotels.com, Virtual Tour of Oia Fortress in high resolution

References

^ Kallikratis law Greece Ministry of Interior (Greek)
^ Louise Candlish. Since I Don't Have You. (London: Sphere, 2007) ISBN 978-0-7515-3809-0

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