The most dramatic island of the Cyclades – indeed of the whole Mediterranean – took its shape when, around 1200BC, a massive volcanic eruption blasted the centre of the island into the sky, leaving a steep-walled, sea-filled crater in the middle. It also happened to take out the Minoan palaces of Crete with its tidal wave, and fortuitously buried Santorini’s own palaces at Akrotiri under a preserving layer of ash.
Now, white-washed villages and villas line the lip of the sea-crater, looking down on a sparkling blue sea hundreds of feet below. Sunset from the caldera rim is justifiably famous: air-borne dust turns the sun into a dark, glowing orange. It also turns the entire area into an open air cinema in summer, with cameras clicking away furiously at a view which will never be as romantic on paper as it is in the heat of the evening. In daytime, it is the domed chapels and white-washed houses set against the unfailingly azure sea which attracts happy snappers, and which feature on calendars around the world.