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Oia is a community on the island of Thera, Santorini, in the Cyclades, Greece. Population 1,230 (2001). 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. In 2004, it was used for the location of a few scenes in the movie Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants


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Santorini

Santorini (Greek: Σαντορίνη, pronounced [sadoˈrini]), classically Thera (English pronunciation /ˈθɪrə/), and officially Thira (Greek: Θήρα [ˈθira]); is an island in the southern Aegean Sea, about 200 km (120 mi) southeast of Greece's mainland. It is the largest island of a small, circular archipelago which bears the same name and is the remnant of a volcanic caldera. It forms the southernmost member of the Cyclades group of islands, with an area of approximately 73 km2 (28 sq mi) and a 2011 census population of 15,550. The municipality of Santorini comprises the inhabited islands of Santorini and Therasia and the uninhabited islands of Nea Kameni, Palaia Kameni, Aspronisi, and Christiana. The total land area is 90.623 km2 (34.990 sq mi). Santorini is part of the Thira regional unit.


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Church (building)

A church building, often simply called a church, is a building used for religious activities, particularly worship services. The term in its architectural sense is most often used by Christians to refer to their religious buildings but can be used by other religions. In traditional Christian architecture, the church is often arranged in the shape of a Christian cross. When viewed from plan view the longest part of a cross is represented by the aisle and the junction of the cross is located at the altar area. Towers or domes are often added with the intention of directing the eye of the viewer towards the heavens and inspiring church visitors. Modern church buildings have a variety of architectural styles and layouts; many buildings that were designed for other purposes have now been converted for church use; and, similarly, many original church buildings have been put to other uses.


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Oia, Greece

Oia (Greek: Οία, pronounced [ˈi.a]) is a small town and former community in the South Aegean on the islands of Thira (Santorini) and Therasia, in the Cyclades, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it has been part of the municipality of Santorini, of which it is a municipal unit. It covers the whole island of Therasia and the northwesternmost part of Santorini, which it shares with the municipal unit of Santorini. The main street is named Nikolaou Nomikou. The population was 3376 inhabitants at the 2001 census, and the land area is 19.449 km2

Oia was previously known as Apano Meria (Απάνω Μεριά or Επάνω Μεριά, "upper side"), a name which still occurs locally as Pano Meria, and the inhabitants are still called Apanomerites (Απανωμερίτες). The Ancient Greek Oia was one of the two harbours of ancient Thera and was located in the southeast of the island, where Kamari is now.

Oia reached the peak of prosperity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Its economic prosperity was based on its merchant fleet, which plied trade in the Eastern Mediterranean, especially from Alexandria to Russia. The two-story captains' houses built on the highest part of the village are a reminder of the village's former affluence. Part of the town was destroyed by the 1956 earthquake.


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Sacred architecture

Sacred architecture (also known as religious architecture) is a religious architectural practice concerned with the design and construction of places of worship and/or sacred or intentional space, such as churches, mosques, stupas, synagogues, and temples. Many cultures devoted considerable resources to their sacred architecture and places of worship. Religious and sacred spaces are amongst the most impressive and permanent monolithic buildings created by humanity. Conversely, sacred architecture as a locale for meta-intimacy may also be non-monolithic, ephemeral and intensely private, personal and non-public.

Sacred, religious and holy structures often evolved over centuries and were the largest buildings in the world, prior to the modern skyscraper. While the various styles employed in sacred architecture sometimes reflected trends in other structures, these styles also remained unique from the contemporary architecture used in other structures. With the rise of Abrahamic monotheisms (particularly Christianity and Islam), religious buildings increasingly became centres of worship, prayer and meditation.

The Western scholarly discipline of the history of architecture itself closely follows the history of religious architecture from ancient times until the Baroque period, at least. Sacred geometry, iconography and the use of sophisticated semiotics such as signs, symbols and religious motifs are endemic to sacred architecture.


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Balkans

The Balkan Peninsula, popularly referred to as the Balkans, is a geographical and cultural region of Southeast Europe. The region has its name from the Balkan Mountains that stretch from the east of Bulgaria to the very east of Serbia.

The region is predominantly inhabited by Bulgarians, Bunjevci, Croats, Bosniaks, Gorani, Macedonians, Montenegrins, Serbs, Slovenes, Romanians, Aromanians, Greeks, Albanians, Turks and other ethnic groups which present minorities in certain countries like the Romani and Ashkali. The largest religion on the Balkans is Orthodox Christianity, followed by Catholic Christianity and Islam.

The total area of the Balkans is 257,400 square miles (666,700 square km) and the population is 59,297,000 (est. 2002). The Balkans meet the Adriatic Sea on the northwest, Ionian Sea on the southwest, the Mediterranean and Aegean Sea on the south and southeast, and the Black Sea on the east and northeast. The highest point of the Balkans is mount Musala 2,925 metres (9,596 ft) on the Rila mountain range in Bulgaria.


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Greece

Greece (Greek: Ελλάδα, Elláda, pronounced [eˈlaða] ( )), officially the Hellenic Republic (Ελληνική Δημοκρατία [eliniˈci ðimokraˈti.a] Ellīnikī́ Dīmokratía) and known since ancient times as Hellas (Greek: Ἑλλάς), is a country in Southern Europe. According to the 2011 census, Greece's population is around 11 million. Athens is the nation's capital and largest city.

Greece is strategically located at the crossroads of Europe, Western Asia, and Africa, and shares land borders with Albania to the northwest, the Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria to the north and Turkey to the northeast. The country consists of nine geographic regions: Macedonia, Central Greece, the Peloponnese, Thessaly, Epirus, the Aegean Islands (including the Dodecanese and Cyclades), Thrace, Crete, and the Ionian Islands. The Aegean Sea lies to the east of the mainland, the Ionian Sea to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Greece has the longest coastline on the Mediterranean Basin and the 11th longest coastline in the world at 13,676 km (8,498 mi) in length, featuring a vast number of islands (approximately 1,400, of which 227 are inhabited). Eighty percent of Greece consists of mountains, of which Mount Olympus is the highest, at 2,917 m (9,570 ft).


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Tourist attraction

A tourist attraction is a place of interest where tourists visit, typically for its inherent or exhibited natural or cultural value, historical significance, natural or built beauty, offering leisure, adventure, amusement and medical services for aging travelers.


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Church architecture

Church architecture refers to the architecture of buildings of Christian churches. It has evolved over the two thousand years of the Christian religion, partly by innovation and partly by imitating other architectural styles as well as responding to changing beliefs, practices and local traditions. From the birth of Christianity to the present, the most significant objects of transformation for Christian architecture and design were the great churches of Byzantium, the Romanesque abbey churches, Gothic cathedrals and Renaissance basilicas with its emphasis on harmony. These large, often ornate and architecturally prestigious buildings were dominant features of the towns and countryside in which they stood. But far more numerous were the parish churches scattered across the Christian world, the focus of Christian devotion in every town and village. While a few are counted as sublime works of architecture to equal the great cathedrals, the majority developed along simpler lines, showing great regional diversity and often demonstrating local vernacular technology and decoration.

Buildings were at first adapted from those originally intended for other purposes but, with the rise of distinctively ecclesiastical architecture, church buildings came to influence secular ones which have often imitated religious architecture. In the 20th century, the use of new materials, such as steel and concrete, has had an effect upon the design of churches. The history of church architecture divides itself into periods, and into countries or regions and by religious affiliation. The matter is complicated by the fact that buildings put up for one purpose may have been re-used for another, that new building techniques may permit changes in style and size, that changes in liturgical practice may result in the alteration of existing buildings and that a building built by one religious group may be used by a successor group with different purposes.