The Crown of Fira
The Crown of Fira
The walk from Fira to Firostefani through the old cobblestone path is the best way to visit this picturesque settlement, enjoying the magnificent view to the Caldera (this trail continues to Imerovigli and Oia).
The blue dome of Aghioi Theodoroi church (Saints Theodore) is featured in many photos of Santorini. Should you find it open, take a look at the old icon on its chancel screen. Two smaller Catholic chapels, dedicated to Panagia (Virgin Mary) and Aghioi (St) Theodoroi used to stand at this very point, in the past. In 1570, a sailor brought back from Russia an icon depicting Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus. In order to honour it, the Catholics built a big church in the place of the two smaler chapels, and soon people spread the word that the icon was miraculous.
But instead of uniting Christian Catholics and Orthodox, it devided them. Catholics thought it belonged to them, having brought it all the way from Russia, while the Orthodox thought it belonged to them, having been executed in Byzantine style by an Orthodox painter.
As noted in Archimandrite Daniel Denaxas’s book, the picture had been stolen twice by the Orthodox, once in 1797 and once in 1811, and both times an intervention from two different Patriarchs of Constantinople (Grigorios and Ieremias) along with their orders made the return of it to the Catholic church in Firostefani possible. A third time later on, again being stolen, the picture had been returned under the threat from a French battleship. From then on it stayed there for worshiping by both Catholics and Orthodox. The church sustained damage from the 1956 earthquake, but the picture of Virgin Mary remained untouched.
As you are walking in Firostefani, you will also come across the church of Aghios Gerassimos and the square, a meeting point for locals and tourists.
The settlement has luxurious hotels, rooms to let, restaurants, cafes, mini markets and other shops.