Oia is located at the northwest part of Santorini, at an altitude of about 121m and 11km from Fira. Its population counted 1230 inhabitants at 2001 and its community includes Oia, Foinikia, Tholos, Armeni, Ammoudi, Mavri Petra, Kolumbo and the islet of Therasia.
In antiquity, Oia was the harbor of Thera. In 1207, when Santorini was annexed to the Venetians' Duchy of Archipelago, it was named Kastro tou Agiou Nikolaou (Castle of St Nikolas) or Panomeria. It was ruled by the Dargenta family until 1579, when it passed to the Ottomans for 250 years. In the 19th century, Oia flourished, became a commercial centre and a sailing power, owning about 160 ships that crossed the Eastern Mediterranean. This lasted until the Second World War. During the 1956 earthquake, many of its buildings collapsed.
In 1976, Oia was included in the Hellenic Tourism Organization program "Development and Utilization of Traditional Settlements". Architects and engineers were sent and loans were granted in order to restore and reconstruct the village. Oia started re-finding its previous form and, simultaneously, it re-found its previous life. The younger generation returned to its homeland, together with newcomers who bought and restored several hyposkapha. Shops opened and a weaving workshop was created, giving the chance to the local girls to learn new skills and stay at their birthplace.
Today, the community is supplied with water from the caldera, thanks to a desalination plant that was donated by the Oian ship-owner Aristidis Alafouzos, has installed low lighting and obeys to a set of regulations and restrictions in order to maintain its traditional character. Besides the images of exquisite beauty, Oia also offers various facilities to the visitors, like bank, post office, medical center, travel agencies, restaurants, shops that sell traditional products and the Maritime Museum.
For its work on Oia, the Hellenic Tourism Organization received the Europa Nostra prize in 1979 and the prize of the Architectural Biennale of Sofia in 1986.
Today, Oia is a cosmopolitan holiday paradise that attracts visitors from all over the world. Its exquisite beauty, its calm and romantic atmosphere, its sunsets that are considered among the best of the world have touched every single traveler who passed by it. Its white-washed vaulted houses that seem to hang from the cliff, its narrow paved streets and its sun that dives into the sea in all its red glory create amazing images, equal to the best pieces of art. Just let your senses absorb them and Oia will be yours for ever.