Why is Santorini so popular for weddings?
Santorini is famous as one of the top wedding destinations worldwide, a deservedly popular choice. The wonderful climate of the island, its unique beauty and famous architecture together with its rich history constitute a wonderful choice for couples from all over the world – from Alaska to Brazil and from Japan to Australia. You certainly know of Greece as the country of ancient culture and mythology. It’s time for you to explore the wonderful legends and myths associated with the island of Santorini itself, to inform you and –why not?– inspire you in your quest for the perfect wedding theme and activities.
Santorini was known in ancient times as Καλλίστη (Kallisti), a word that underlines its exquisite beauty, as it means “the most beautiful”. Evidently, its distinctive magnificence was as apparent to Ancient Greeks as it is to us now. The ancient name Kallisti is also closely connected to Calisto, a beautiful Nymph who followed the Goddess of the Hunt, Artemis (Diana to the Romans). According to one version, Calisto was said to have given birth to Pan, God of Fauna and Nature.
Another name for Santorini is Θήρα (Thera), after a famous Spartan who was believed to have first inhabited it. The actual name Santorini, also used by Greeks nowadays, came from the Francs, in honor of the church of Saint Irene.
It is no secret that Santorini was, once upon a time, the site of a great natural catastrophe – a large volcanic eruption is believed to have occurred around 1628 BC. This resulted in the reshaping of the island, the exotic beaches of black sand you can still find today, as well as a multitude of interesting myths to explain it. After all, mythology was the ancients’ fascinating way of explaining nature and life, whenever their scientific resources failed to suffice.
In addition to the Dodecatheon, the twelve gods of Mount Olympus you may already have heard of, there was an assortment of other deities in Greek Mythology. The Sun was also, naturally, considered a god. He led his flaming chariot in the sky, every morning until sundown. His name was Helios, and he had a son, Phaethon. When he was still young, Phaethon was very eager to follow in his father’s footsteps and ride the chariot. Sadly, he was still untrained when he stole it and awkwardly tried to steer it: He failed to keep the chariot stable; he kept going up and down, alternating between burning the earth and not warming it enough. One of the spots he was said to have burned, was Santorini.
A less grim, but still impressive myth highlights the parallel between Santorini and the myth of the bronze giant Talos. Hephaestus, the Blacksmith God, had offered King Minos a robot-like giant, to protect his Minoan Empire. The giant, Talos, had a body of impenetrable brass, and hurled rocks to whoever attempted to threaten the Minoans. According to contemporary research, Talos was the island of Santorini itself! His body was made of copper, like the volcano’s crater. The rocks that he threw are believed to have been rocks spit out by the volcano, back when it was active. In fact, even his death, described in the Iliad, is said to have occurred at the same time when the volcano ceased its eruptions for good.
Perhaps the most appealing myth concerning Santorini is that of the lost island of Atlantis. The famous civilization was first mentioned in Plato’s dialogues as a mighty, bountiful empire, with educated and cultivated people. Even in Ancient Greece, some writers considered Atlantis fictional, yet others believed it was a real place, lost or destroyed forever, after some natural disaster. Up until our times, hundreds of people, from ship captains to archaeologists and adventurers to writers, have tried to find it, to no avail. Even more have been fascinated by the myth of Atlantis, the lost empire, and theorists aplenty have proposed a surprisingly big number of original locations for it. Among those, one of the most prominent theories suggest that Atlantis was the island of Santorini before its big volcanic eruption, which then sadly led to its ultimate demise. If that’s true, at least Atlantis was inhabited again, and its beauty is still unmatched.
Myths are powerfully symbolic. Their existence exhibits the vivid imagination of the Ancients, their uniquely human longing to answer questions, to explain, to seek out harmony in life. Live your own mythical wedding in Santorini, alongside lost civilizations, powerful giants and foolish deities.
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