Photos of The Picturesque Villages of Thira, Santorini, Greece

Pictures, Images & Photos of Romantic Volcanic Island of Santorini, Greece.

Pictures, Images & Photos of Santorini Island and its dramatic volcanic crater & whitewashed villages & churches. High on any travel "must see" list of European destinations has to be the Greek Cyclades Island of Santorini and in particular the town of Oia. With good reason Oia is one of the most visited destinations in Greece. It has a captivating charm that combined with boutique hotels make it an obvious destination for the discerning traveler and those looking for a romantic destination to get married in.

Santorini Islands are located in the Aegean Sea about 200KM (120 miles) from the Greek mainland. They are the remnants of an old Volcanic island that exploded with such force about 3,600 years that the fall out probably caused the collapse of the Minoan civilization on the nearby island of Crete. Santorini is a crescent shaped archipelago of islands surrounding a central caldera. The largest island of Thira, next Therasia and the smallest Aspronisi. These surrounds a huge central lagoon about 12 x 7 km across with a small volcanic island, Nea Kameni, in the middle which has been dormant since 1950. The natural harbour of the caldera has high steep cliffs that rise out of the sea to create a natural defense for the island and a safe haven for shipping. High above the sea on the cliff tops are some of the most picturesque villages in Greece & Europe.
The Greeks have been clever with the development on Santorini and new buildings are made in the traditional Santorini style. This is so successful that often it is difficult to tell if a building is old or new.
The most famous town is of Santorini is Oia. It is at one end of the crescent shaped Thira Island at the point where there is a break in the archipelago between Thira and Therasia. The early inhabitants of Oia used the cliffs to good advantage to make cave dwellings in the soft volcanic rock. These stayed cool in the summer and warm in the winter and set high above the sea were hidden from the Saracen pirates that plundered the Mediterranean coast and islands for hundreds of years in the middle ages. In more peaceful times the buildings of Oia were extended outside the cliffs dwellings and a simple low square style of building developed with arched vaulted roofs. These are painted white to reflect the heat of the sun and hang precariously on the high cliffs shining out against dramatic black volcanic rock. Oia's buildings are linked by a maze of narrow lanes and steps just big enough for a donkey to carry goods up and down the village.

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Photos of the Towers of San Gimignano, Italy

Pictures, Images & Photos of San Gimignano, Tuscany. The Medieval Manhattan.

Pictures, photo & images of San Gimignano, Tuscany, Scilly. Ever wondered what Manhattan would have looked like if it was built 800 years ago. Well a look at the curious towers of San Gimignano will give some idea of what a medieval Manhattan would have looked like. On close inspection it can be seen that the simple square towers of San Gimignano have little or no practical purpose. It was certainly possible to stand at the top of the towers and shout abuse at the neighbouring feuding family, but the towers have little other purpose. The towers have no rooms, no architectural finesse and are simply bombastic expressions of power. The ruling Council of San Gimignano put a height barrier on the towers banning any taller than the tower of the town hall. Frustrated one family built 2 towers next to each other to show their prowess. Many of the towers of San Gimignano and other Tuscan towns were not structurally sound and tumbled to the ground. Other towers had to be taken down before they fell but there are still enough towers left to turn the skyline of San Gimignano into a very strange and unique sight.

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Photos of Rome, Italy

Pictures, Images & Photos of Historic Rome

Pictures, images & photos of Rome, Italy. To many Rome is Italy but actually Rome is Rome and still feels different from the rest of Italy. 1600 years after its fall from grace the independence of what was the capital of the greatest Western Empire can still be felt. It is still very clear to Romans that they are Romans first and Italians maybe. Rome may have lost its great imperial Emperor but it is still home to the guiding spirit of over half the worlds Christians in the form of the Pope. Rome probably has more iconic buildings than any other city in Europe. It would be difficult and pointless to try and choose only one of Rome's landmarks as its icon for each has a different meaning to different people. The Trevi fountain is the focus of coin throwing romantics as is the Spanish Steps. The Vatican is the focus of pious Roman Catholics from all over the World and the Colosseum is an iconic symbols of Rome's excesses and cruelty and mystique. The great events that happened in the Forum of Rome are some of the great stories of European history and to follow in the footsteps of Julius Cesar and Augustus is a thrilling experience. To stand under the great dome of the Roman Basilica of the Pantheon is an awe inspiring marvel at ancient engineering that would defeat modern architects. Rome operates on so many cultural levels that it is impossible to make a single definition for the city.

One thing is for sure Rome has something for everyone, from the Great football teams of Roma and Lazio to the work of the greatest artists that ever lived. From chic Italian clothes boutiques to the greatest museums in the world. Is this review of Rome's attributes too gushing? Well actually it can never be gushing enough because to encompass what is Rome is really impossible. Fellini took a good shot and glorified Rome in some of the great icon films of European cinema like "La Dulce Vita" & "Roma" but even the great masters work only scratched the surface. There is no need to throw three coins into the Trevi fountain, which is meant to mean that the thrower will visit Rome again, because there is no doubt that the appetite from one visit to Rome will fuel the hunger to visit again.

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