The capital of Santorini is built on the edge of Caldera and lies dominant with its beautiful white houses and churches. Years ago, where Fira lies now, there were vineyards and wine stores (canaves).
At these days people produced wine and lived there throughout the summer. The transfer of the island’s centre from Skaros fortress to Fira was completed (at the end of the 18th century).
The town of Fira is nowadays a contemporary well-developed town full of life during the summer time. A variety of shops are open day and night to serve the locals as well as the tourists. Along its small streets lie famous gold stores where golden works of art are admired by visitors from all over the world.
Fira`s Archaeological Museum contains findings from Ancient Thira`s and Akrotiri`s excavations and is of great interest. Two parallel roads (from the museum’s square) encircle the Catholic Parish (where is Thira`s and Syro`s Episcopi) and the centre of Arts and Sciences-Gisi`s Mansion which houses lithography exhibitions, manuscripts and a permanent exhibition of Byzantine hagiography and an entertaining hall.
The visitor can enjoy a panoramic view of the town from the imposing P.Nomikos Conferential Centre. Higher up, above the Conferential Centre, is Goulas, a medieval castle. This was rebuilt after being destroyed by the earthquakes of 1956, and nowadays is a guesthouse.
In the centre of the town do commercial and a tourist shop, a bus station, pharmacies, banks, travel agencies surround the main square. A few metres ahead are the Health Centre, Thira`s sub-prefecture, high schools and Olympic Airway’s offices.
Close to the centre, near to the Post Office, is the Bellonio’s Cultural Centre with an entertaining hall, library, teaching music rooms and conference area. In the same neighbourhood are the Police Department, the Court of Justice and other official buildings. Not far from Fira, at the district of Kontohori, is the Popular Art Museum (Emm.Lignos) with a canava and a cave dated since 1861, labs, a picture gallery and a Bureau of records.
Day and night the town of Fira offers the visitor incredible images. Facing the volcano and Caldera, near the Metropolitan Church of Ipapandi of Sotiros (at the main town street), a small descending alley leads us to the all in white church of St. Minas the photo of which has reached the most distant parts of the world.
Wondering through the white cobbled streets of Fira, a town of about 3000 inhabitants, one gets the feel of the old-world charm blended in with the modern-day comforts .
The town’s archaeological and prehistoric Thera museums are crammed with finds from excavations at Akrotiri and ancient Thira. But besides being so interesting archaeologically, Santorini is essentially a beauty spot of the island whose cliffs seem to glow under an exceptionally clear light all day, but which at sunset glow redly, evoking that vast explosion more then 3000 years ago.