Oia (Greek Οία, ) is a community on the islands of Thira (Santorini) and Therasia, in the Cyclades, Greece. The population was 1,230 inhabitants at the 2001 census, and the land area is 19.449 km². The population and land area are distributed as follows: 962 persons on 10.150 km² in Santorini, and 268 persons on 9.299 km² in Therasia. The community shares the island of Thira with the Municipality of Thira (Santorini), and is centered in the northwesternmost part of the island.
Along the cliff of Oia, houses have been delved into the porous volcanic rock (left over from a large volcanic explosion many years ago that sunk the center of the island). Parts of these houses are visible and the scenery that results from it is generally perceived as being typically Greek. The town is noted for its picturesque architecture, unique for its blend of relatively large (for the town's space) medieval Venetian houses (dubbed "kapetanea" gr: "καπετανέα" - as they belonged to the captains) with small incave village homes, called "yposkafa" (gr: "υπόσκαφα", caved-in
) which were the housing form of the rest of the town's population. This is a reminiscent of the age of Venetian
rule over the island. Other attributes of this era are the large Catholic
population as well as the medieval fortifications to protect from pirates
. To this day laws protect the natural and architectural beauty of the town from modern manifestations, such as public electrical wires.
Oia remains one of the foremost tourist attractions of the Aegean Sea
. The famous Oia sunset
, considered by many as one of the most beautiful in the world, keeps tourists flocking down to the castle, waiting for the moment when the sun slips down on the calm sea of the caldera. Tourists are often told that the fishing docks at Oia are the oldest continually used docks in the world, supposedly being in service for 3000 years. While an interesting bit of tourist trivia, no evidence is supplied to validate the claim.
Sunset at Oia
In the evening hordes of people arrive simply to watch its sunset. Every available seat, wall, step or patch of ground is occupied and picnicking while watching the sunset is almost de rigueur.
A common method for enjoying the sunset is to take one of the boat charters from the docks at Thira. After visiting the volcano in the middle of the caldera, the boat will visit the opposite island for a time before heading out a mile or so from the island. At sunset the boat will sail in a figure 8 until the sun goes below the horizon, providing a long view of the setting sun and ample photographic opportunities.
In 2004, it was used for the location of a few scenes in the movie The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants