The quiet and picturesque village of Imerovigli is Santorini’s quietest town along the caldera. Located midway between Fira and Oia on the caldera’s highest point, 300 m above sea level, offers unobstructed views of the volcano, the neighboring island of Thirasia and the volcano islets of Palea and Nea Kameni. It is due to this stunning view that Imerovigli boasts to be the “balcony to the Aegean”. It sits at the pick of the volcanic rock and is a typical Cycladic village with a maze of narrow cobblestoned alleys lined with colorful flowers, white-washed houses dug into the volcanic rock and blue-domed churches. The village suffered severe damage by the 1956 earthquake with most of the buildings to have been destroyed. However, this did not stop the locals to restore them. It has now been declared a traditional settlement, and special rules and regulations have been enforced regarding building development.
The name ‘Imerovigli’ comes from the words “imera (day)” and “vigla” (from the Latin verb ‘vigilare’, meaning ‘being vigilant’). Most likely, there was a watch tower in the area, used to warn the locals about pirate raids. Right in front of the village is the Skaros Rock, one of the island’s five fortified settlements. Once a prominent settlement and for centuries the island’s capital, it was partially destroyed by the 1650 big eruption and finally abandoned in the 18th century after a strong earthquake. Most of the inhabitants moved then to other parts of the island, mainly to Fira and Imerovigli. The castle can still be reached through the old path and is nowadays one of the main attractions in Imerovigli. The village is also home to several lovely churches. Some of them stand among the houses and others on the cliffs of the caldera. On the path that leads to Skaros, there is the chapel of Agios Ioannis Apokefalistis (St. John the Beheaded), also known as “Ai Giannis Katiforis”. Other remarkable churches are The Church of the Panagia Malteza with its marvellous carved wooden iconostasis, decorated with icons depicting scenes from the Old Testament and the church of Theoskepasti, built at the edge of the Skaros Rock. Imerovigli offers a unique sunset as the sun sinks into the sea behind the islands of Palea and Nea Kameni while the capital Fira is just a short walk away along the caldera’s edge.
Today Imerovigli is one of the most developed tourist spots of Santorini, with luxurious hotels, villas and fine-dining restaurants, almost all with view to one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. It attracts thousands of visitors every year who appreciate not only beautiful views but also relish peace and quiet.