The town of Fira stands out like a white eagles’-nest, hanging between sea and sky. The climb from the bay to the town can be made on foot for those who want to try their strength, climbing the 600 steps of the road, or with the cable railroad.
The capital of the island was moved to Fira from Pyrgos Kalistis in the beginning of the 19th century. Now Fira is a growing town with a population of about 1500 people, which lives in the present but tries to retain the local traditions of the past.
In the summer, a loud and good-natured crowd of people strolls, carefree , on the roads which are parallel to the cliff and the small streets that cross them.
The central part of the town, the market, is here. Numerous shops offer a great variety of merchandice, from the cheapest (cotton shirts and blouses) to the most expensive (furs and jewelry) give it a particular accent which is quite interesting to the visitor. The visit to the picturesque market of Fira is a pleasant walk. Small houses, dug in the land, one- or two- storied, have a view of either the sea or the land. Lit and crowded against each other, as they are, on the top of the cliff, they seem to be wanting to support each other, so they can reach outward, over the abyss. Terraces of houses which are not terraces but balconies or passages, vaults and archways, and small, white, decorated facades. Straight lines are unknown, everything is in curves, giving a unique architectural characteristic to the houses of Fira which are sunk inside the earth. ‘’Skafta” (dug) as the locals call them, they are built from stone and the earth of the island.
Do not wonder if, when passing through the door of a building which is, at first glance, one-storied , you walk many steps down and yet do not end in some dank and dank basement, but, when you open your window, you see the sea reflecting the sun, although you have descended two or three storeys inside the earth.
At Fira, buildings do not have height, they have depth.
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