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Ancient Sites in Santorini, Part 2 (Thira)

May 22, 2012

Above the black-sand beaches of Kamari and Perissa, on top of Mesa Vouno, on the island, Santorini, rests the ancient city of Thira. I made a pilgrimage there while in Greece researching my novel-in-progress. I was driven to the top, then hiked down via an old donkey trail. The oldest remnants of Thira date back to the 9th Century B.C., and the latest from the 7th Century A.D., encompassing Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine rule. Along the hiking trail, in the middle of the mountain, sits a tiny church surrounded by olive trees beside a spring.


I stopped at a cool spring along the way and drank, then lingered awhile to tease a little dog guarding a flock of fenced-in goats. A girl sat on a blanket offering trinkets made from the mountain’s stone, and I picked out a charm and paid her with a fine cotton scarf.

“Does no one know where he might have gone?” I asked.

His mother, the temple-slave, Creides, stepped forward. “He said he wished to drown himself in wine and women. ”

“Thira,” I said at once, for that mountaintop village was famed for both. I closed my eyes, picturing my half-brother quite clearly. I imagined him smiling, wild-haired, on the windswept cliffs over a sparkling sapphire sea. Perhaps he slept all day, or he paid tribute to the Lady of the Labyrinth, who had her own temple there, overseen by a third cousin who bore remarkable resemblance. Some days, he hiked halfway down the mountain to bathe in a cool spring next to a shrine to the God of Olives.

At night, when the fishing village beneath sparkled with cooking fires, he convened by moonlight to the temple of Dionysus, God of Wine, whose priests bore goat’s heads, then stumbling to the temple of Cythera, Love-Goddess, whose priestesses were skilled in the magic of lovemaking. For a moment, I wished I could leave him on the mountain.

Ancient Sites in Santorini, Part 1 (Akrotiri)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 22, 2012 9:17 pm

    So beautiful! Can’t wait to visit.

  2. May 27, 2012 5:35 am

    This is really a great web site.


  1. Ancient Sites in Santorini, Part 1 (Akrotiri) « Wild Earthling

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