The medieval times where a time of hardship for the inhabitants of the Aegean islands. Pirate raids were frequent, and locals had to shelter from this constant threat in an effective way; the Casteli of Santorini, still standing proud today are a testament to those trying times, architectural wonders that never cease to amaze.
But what is a Casteli? The name reminds of a castle, and that’s where the main idea for the casteli derives from. Just like a castle, the villages were built on vantage points, with a tower called Goulas in the center or nearby and homes built with thick outer walls that served as the casteli’s fortification. Impenetrable, with a hard to reach entrance and narrow pathways that gave access to no more than one or two persons at a time made conquering the casteli a challenge, thus keeping the habitants safe from harm. The Casteli of Santorini are these fortified villages, sheltered behind the walls of their own homes, a fortress for the community that has withstood the test of time.
Which are the Casteli of Santorini? Five villages on the island of Santorini, five castelis have left their mark in the island’s history: Pyrgos, the former capital, Emporio, Oia, Akrotiri and Skaros at Imerovigli. The best preserved casteli are those of Pyrgos and Emporio, whereas from the imposing casteli built on the Rock of Skaros, also known as “La Rocka”, almost nothing is left but a few ruins and the breath-taking panoramic view to the sea. As for those of Oia and Akrotiri, the Goulas towers and parts of the main casteli are still standing, evocative reminders of times well past.
When looking for the true history of Santorini, the casteli inevitably pop-up in your explorations. Standing proud to allow you a peek in the distant past, the Casteli of Santorini offer visitors a travel back in time, an evocative experience full of nostalgia that seems to have escaped the pages of a fairytale. Explore them all!
Ask the Aressana Spa Hotel & Suites concierge for more insider’s knowledge on the casteli, or to book you a private guided tour around these historic monuments. Contact us for more at www.aressana.gr/contact-us.