Notwithstanding its proximity (2km) to one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, Therasía has remained remarkably quiet and untouched. On the scarp above the waterfront at Ríva, is the mid-19th-century church of Aghia Irini, sitting in a wide esplanade. An ancient column fragment outside the church is the sole reminder of an ancient presence in the area which, it seems most likely, would have occupied the spur of the hill to the south of Ríva, where there is a density of terracing and walls.
The two hamlets on the gentler, western slope of the island make a rewarding visit. Both Potamós and Agriliá (30mins by foot from Ríva) are hidden in ravines in the island's western slope, giving them a compact and intimate feel. In Potamós, the rows of house-fronts belonging to the older dwellings carved deep into the rock form a variegated backdrop to the later dwellings in front which are vaulted and cubic in design. Plants burgeon in the ravine's meagre water. In Agriliá, the church of the Eisodia tis Panaghias (Presentation of the Virgin), built in 1887, has striking and colourful folkloric decoration on its façade, of a kind not seen on the main island.
Manólas (40mins by foot from Ríva), the island's chora, beetles along the eastern ridge of the island at 170m above sea level, mirroring Firá opposite, across the caldera. A steep crescent bay drops below to Kórfos, the island's primary harbour, lined with old, vaulted boathouses and fisherman's dwellings. Manólas preserves much of its original patchwork of troglodyte houses whose doors and windows and projecting ovens create fascinating patterns in the flows and bulges of the natural pumice-rock. Most of the village's churches were rebuilt after the earthquake of 1956. Some, such as the tiny chapel of Aghios Ioannis Prodromos with its prominent belfries, are a delight for the ingenuous gaiety of their decoration.
To the south of Manólas the track along the ridge leads past several rural churches built in small, fertile hollows to the monastery of the Koimisis tis Theotokou, panoramically sited on the southernmost point of the island, 200m above the water. In the southwest corner of the island, south of the church of Christós, are the Alaphouzos pozzolana quarries, whose pumice was used in the preparation of a vitally important, impermeable cement for the construction of the Suez Canal. In 1866 a Greek scientist, Manolis Christomanos, observed man-made walls at the lower limit of the quarry and saw that they were pre-Greek, dating from before the pumice layers above were deposited. Alaphouzos, the proprietor of the quarry organised excavation of the site, from which a house with several rooms was uncovered, with associated pottery. Fouqué also studied the site. This was the first intimation of the prehistoric importance of Thera, which was to lead eventually to Marinatos's spectacular discoveries at Akrotiri.Chronique des Fouilles linkWikidata ID: Q598563
Info: McGilchrist's Greek Islands
(From McGilchrist’s Greek Islands, © Nigel McGilchrist 2010, excerpted with his gracious permission. Click for the books)