The village Perissa of Santorini is built in the southeastern part of the island, approximately 13 kilometers from Fira. The beach is one of the most popular and attracts large crowds during the summer months. It is located right beside Perivolos, another one of the largest beaches on the island and thus composing a vast, fully organized coastline.
The village has about 500 inhabitants and apart from the beach, you can also visit the Church of the Holy Cross, which is the largest of the churches of Santorini. Not far away you will also find the Byzantine church of Agia Irini, that is believed to have given Thira its later name, Santorini (‘Santa Irini’). In Perissa is also situated the Museum of Fossils and Minerals.
The village holds major traditional festivals on August 29, on the day of Agios Ioannis, on September 8 at the chapel of Panagia Katefiani and of course on 14 September, the celebration of the Cross.
In the alleys between the whitewashed houses, guests will find restaurants and taverns, supermarkets, cafes, and fully organized tourist infrastructures, while at the beach there are beach bars, water sports amenities and camping sites. The village can be reached by municipal buses, going from Fira to Perissa Square.
The ruins of Ancient Thira were discovered atop Mesa mountain, that can be seen behind the village, and if you want to discover the hidden secrets of the local landscape, you can take the path to Mesa mountain, all the way to the chapel of Prophet Ilias Chamilos, named so in contrast to the homonymous monastery on top of Prophet Ilias mountain and admire the endless view.
The beach of Perissa
Perissa beach attracts those visiting Santorini in order to enjoy the sun and the sea. Black, fine sand and the blue sea create a very special landscape. The beach is fully organized with beach bars that cater to all tastes and umbrellas and sunbeds along the shore.
Read detailed information about Perissa Beach here
The Church of the Holy Cross (Timios Stavros)
Situated right behind the beautiful beach, on the main square of Perissa, stands the magnificent church of the Holy Cross with five domes and an ornate steeple. Although the church (the original building is estimated to be built in 1835) was damaged during the earthquake of 1956, it has been since completely rebuilt and is currently the largest on the island.
Read more about the Church of the Holy Cross here
According to some scholars Elefsina, one of the most important ancient cities on the island, was located at the site of the modern village. The geographer Ptolemy mentions this in his work and the city is thought to be the port of Ancient Thira. Ruins of this city were discovered in the area in 1836, while during the Byzantine era another town must have flourished at the same spot – proof of the existence of which is the great basilica of Agia Irini. The decline of the city came probably during the times of Leo III the Isaurian and was associated with the eruption of the volcano in 726.
Basilica of St. Irene
In 1992, very close to Perissa, were discovered the remains of a very important Byzantine church: the Christian Basilica of Agia Irini, dating from the late 5th century. It was a three-naved basilica, while its size signified its importance, since the central nave reaches 25 meters in length! The temple has not yet been fully excavated – the floor of the basilica is at a depth of two meters. This discovery is considered today as the most important evidence that the entire island was named Santorini after this temple.
Built in the cavity of a rock on the slope of Mesa mountain behind Perissa, is the church of Panagia Katefiani, about 200 meters above sea level. It is dedicated to the Birthday of Virgin Mary and the church celebrates on September 8. The name “Katefiani” comes from the word “katefio” which means “shelter” in the local dialect. Clearly, the location where the small chapel is situated was preferred by the residents of the seaside village as a hiding spot when they faced enemy attacks.
Read more about Panagia Katefiani here