Firostefani and Imerovigli Walking Tour, Santorini

Firostefani and Imerovigli Walking Tour (Self Guided), Santorini

Away from the crowded Fira yet close to the famous Santorini caldera, there are two small settlements: Firostefani and Imerovigli. Each of these gorgeous neighborhoods has something unique to offer, and thus represents an attraction in its own right.

The quaint village of Firostefani, whose name translates as "The Crown of Fira", is now considered a suburb of Santorini's capital, with no clear boundary between the two, smoothly flowing into one another. The high vantage point of the cliffs here affords visitors an insanely beautiful perspective of the sea, volcano, and other stunning surroundings; the local sunsets are particularly not to be missed. For those who wish to get a quick bite to eat, Firostefani's small central square offers a nice variety of cafes and restaurants with a great selection of wines and other beverages, not to mention delicious cuisine.

As for Imerovigli, this now upscale area was entirely destroyed by an earthquake in 1956, but thanks to the careful restoration since 1970 it has managed to preserve its traditional style and charm. Perched on a clifftop overlooking Santorini’s caldera islands, this is the highest point of the island. Consisting of narrow lanes, which are almost silent compared to the streets of Fira, Imerovigli is ideal for evening strolls.

Still, it becomes rather vivid during the day and is not short of memorable attractions. Among them are the ruined 13th-century Skaros Venetian Fortress near the landmark summit of Skaros Rock and the blue-domed Panagia Theoskepasti church on the rock’s flank. Also worth visiting is Panagia Malteza Chapel with the icon of Panagia Malteza (Our Lady from Malta), reportedly found near Malta, and an impressive chancel screen made of wood.

For a more detailed acquaintance with the picturesque treasures of Firostefani and Imerovigli, take this self-guided walking tour.
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Firostefani and Imerovigli Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Firostefani and Imerovigli Walking Tour
Guide Location: Greece » Santorini (See other walking tours in Santorini)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 5
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 Km or 1.4 Miles
Author: max
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Firostefani Central Square
  • Agios Nikolaos Monastery
  • Church of Panagia Malteza
  • Skaros Castle Ruins
  • Panagia Theoskepasti Chapel
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Firostefani Central Square

1) Firostefani Central Square

Firostefani's "main square" is nothing like a real town square, but just a small area in the quaint neighborhood right next to the main road. For those who wish to get a quick bite to eat, it offers a nice variety of eateries. In most cases, the local cafés and restaurants carry a great selection of wines and other beverages, not to mention the delicious local cuisine.

Also, Firostefani Square is situated near the Old Port of Fira, and close to Skala, which makes it an ideal vantage point for a breathtaking view of the caldera cliff side.
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Agios Nikolaos Monastery

2) Agios Nikolaos Monastery

Located in the stunning and blue waters of the Aegean Sea is the Agios Nikolaos Monastery. This female convent is located between the villages of Firostefani and Imerovogli in Santorini. It is dedicated to saints Agios Panteleimon, Agios Nikolaos, and Zoodochos Pigi, and was established by the Gizi family in 1651. Prior to its current use, it was a private family chapel.

The design of the nunnery reflects the clean and simple lines of Cycladic style, while the interior of the edifice features beautiful 17th century artwork and spectacular golden icons. Two museums, folklore and ecclesiastical, are also located on the property.

Each year on August 15th, locals come here to celebrate the religious festival the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. After church services, locals and visitors celebrate the holiday with food, song, and dance. Visitors will enjoy viewing the handmade textiles that the nuns make, using hand looms.

The monastery is open daily from 8 am to 12:30 pm and 4 pm to 7 pm.
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Church of Panagia Malteza

3) Church of Panagia Malteza

The Church of Panagia Malteza was originally built in the 19th century. Theodoros Borlis, a ship's captain, found an icon of the Virgin Mary floating in the sea near Malta. He brought the icon back to Santorini and built a church to honor the icon of Panagia Malteza.

The Church of Panagia Malteza features a beautifully carved screen that depicts scenes from the Old Testament. The church's bell tower has four bells. The Church of Panagia Malteza has a celebration festival every year on November 21st.

The church is built on the cliff's edge and provides a beautiful view. It is open to the public, and visitors are welcome to enjoy the beautiful and serene setting. The Church of Panagia Malteza is a popular location for weddings.

Paths from the church lead visitors to the imposing Skaros Rock, the Caldera walkway, and the Chapel of Panagia Theoskepasti.
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Skaros Castle Ruins

4) Skaros Castle Ruins

Located in Imerovigli Village, the Skaros Castle Ruins is one of five fortified settlements on the island. This ancient and fascinating site was originally known as Epano Kastro and also as La Roka. It was built by the Venetian, Giacomo Barozzi, in the 1200s and was the capital of the town until the eighteenth century. The castle was also used as an observation tower and featured a bell, at the top of the mountain, to warn townspeople of approaching pirates. It was and still is known as the symbol of Santorini.

Once a populous area, damage from earthquakes in 1650, 1701, 1866, and 1870 caused all of the townspeople to move elsewhere and turned the once glorious castle into rubble. The area is completely uninhabited, except for the Church of Agios Ioannis Apokefalistheis.

Hikers will enjoy the walking trail that starts at the church Agios, makes it way through the cape that connects Skaros with Imerovigli, and ends at the small chapel of Theoskepasti. The island is decorated with miles of beautiful remnants of lava and gorgeous landscape. If you are fortunate enough to reach the summit of Skaros, you will enjoy breathtaking views of the island and the crystal-clear Aegean Sea.
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Panagia Theoskepasti Chapel

5) Panagia Theoskepasti Chapel

One of Santorini's symbols, the Chapel of Panagia Theoskepasti, is located near the port of Andres, on Skaros Rock, a rocky peninsula that projects into the sea. It was fashioned by multiple volcanoes that changed the shape of the island from circular to crescent. In addition, many other islands were also formed from these volcanoes. The rock was also the site of a castle until an earthquake destroyed the building in the 19th century.

The white building with a blue dome housing the church is open during the day until 4pm, free for anyone to visit. Moreover, the village of Imerovigli has some of the best views of Santorini because of its high vantage point. Visitors can reach the church via the nearby walking trail that begins at Imerovigli and runs through the cape that connects Skaros to the village. The trail ends at the Chapel of Theoskepasti. There is also a stunning underwater caldera that is worth the wait. Once you have visited the church, make sure to see the Hidden Room. The cave sits to the right of the trail and is one of the few elements that remain from the original castle structure.

Tip:
Weekend morning chanting begins at 7am and is broadcasted via loudspeakers to the entire district for hours.

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