Santorini Experience 2022: Culture and Sports Tourism with More Global Stars

September 29, 2022

ATHENS – Santorini Experience, the great event that celebrates the cultural, sports and sea tourism in one of the world’s top destinations, returned after two years of the pandemic. The new impressive running routes and the established one-of-a-kind open water swimming route, having the unique Aegean images of Fira, Oia, Imerovigli, Akrotiri and the Volcano as magnificent background scenery, brought together amateur and professional swimmers and runners in Santorini from 22 countries including the U.S., Brazil, Uruguay, South Africa, Nigeria, Jamaica, India, Great Britain, Germany, and France September 23-25.

Culture in the spotlight with the Daedalic Kore of Thira

During Santorini Experience, Deputy Minister of Tourism Sofia Zacharaki, Thira Mayor Antonios Sigalas, and Deputy Mayor of Thira and Head of Culture Sofia Kitsou visited the Daedalic Kore of Thira. The rare masterpiece of Greek sculpture from the 7th century BC, which came to light in 2000 by the Thiraean archaeologist Charalambos Sigalas during a rescue excavation in the cemetery of the ancient city of Thira in southeastern Sellada, is now the central exhibit of the under renovation Archaeological Museum of Thira. The world now has the opportunity to admire the archaic Kore made of white Naxian marble of supernatural size, with height 2.30m and weight 750 kg, 22 years after its discovery.

Half Mararthon “Daedalic Kore of Thira” (photo by Elias Lefas @ Santorini Experience)

Deputy Minister of Tourism Zacharaki said: “I had the pleasure of being in Santorini on September 23-25, at an iconic sports tourism event, the Santorini Experience, which has been revived after a two-year absence and is now establishing itself as a major sporting event, uniting culture and sports, with many participant athletes from all over the world. The participants even had the opportunity to take a guided tour of the under-renovation museum of Santorini and admire the Kore of Thira, a unique point of cultural reference not only for the island but also for Greece and the world. With the special forms of tourism, such as sports and cultural tourism, a fact emerges that all destinations of our country, even the most popular ones like Santorini, have the possibility to further diversify their tourist product, offering even more qualitative options to the visitor. It is a central priority of the Ministry of Tourism to support events such as Santorini Experience, to which we gave our auspices with great pleasure, reflecting our will for practical support for similar initiatives throughout the country. Greece and Greeks, with this year’s success of tourism, have shown that we are able not only to overcome global crises, but also exceed all expectations. The bet for the future is for tourism development to be sustainable, balanced and qualitative. And in this, the role of institutions like Santorini Experience is pivotal.”

Thira Mayor Antonios Sigalas said, among other things: “We had a very successful event that made a new start and created a dynamic presence in culture as well. I am very satisfied that the Half Marathon was named after the Daedalic Kore of Thira and today we are at the Archaeological Museum of Santorini where we had the honor and pleasure of accompanying the Deputy Minister of Tourism Ms. Zacharaki to enjoy this amazing work. The Municipality of Thira, which places a great deal of emphasis on tourism, but even more on culture and sports, proved the success of its investment program with the Ministry of Culture once again, which supports all these actions and the completion of this space so that Kore can continue to be visited for years to come. Many thanks to everyone who contributed to this great success.”

Konstantine Dean Karnazes at Santorini Experience 2022 (photo by Angelos Zymaras @ Santorini Experience)
⁣⁣Photos @angeloszymaras⁣⁣⁣ for #activemedia

World Class Names in Santorini Experience 2022

The athletes who were present in Santorini and were honored at the event were two-time European gold medalist and Olympian in race walking Antigoni Drisbioti, who honored Greece and made everyone proud with her successes at the European Athletics Championships in Munich; Dutch gold and silver Olympic medalist, world champion and 8-time European champion in open water swimming Sharon van Rouwendaal; British two-time silver Olympic medalist in open water swimming Jazz Carlin; one of the top names in Greek athletics, the Olympian and European champion in the 400m with hurdles Periklis Iakovakis; and the Greek-American ultramarathon runner Dean Karnazes who promoted and spread the message in the United States and around the world of Santorini’s sports and cultural tradition with his participation.

From the left: ActiveMedia Group Chief Executive Officer, Akis Tsolis – Deputy Mayor of Thira & Head of Culture, Sofia Kitsou – Deputy Minister of Tourism, Sofia Zacharaki – Greek American ultramarathon Dean Karnazes – Prefect of Thira, Charalampos Darzentas (photo by Mike Tsolis @ Santorini Experience)

New impressive running routes

The 2022 program included a new route for the 5km as well as a Half Marathon for the first time.

In addition, the participants in the 5km “Aristides Alafouzos” saw for the first time on September 23, Santorini from a different angle, specifically from Akrotiri, one of the most important prehistoric settlements in Europe and admired a new, but equally magical view than the one we are all used to seeing.

Starting from the Church of Saint Raphael, runners headed towards the Akrotiri Lighthouse, one of the oldest lighthouses in Greece, built in 1892, and reached the westernmost point of the island, returning to Saint Raphael for their finish. At the starting line of the race Drisbioti, Iakovakis, Antonis Nikopolidis- the former international goalkeeper and European champion with the Greek national football team, and EuroLeague Legend Joe Arlauckas were present.

On September 24, the Daedalic Kore of Thira Half Marathon was held starting from the Holy Church of Saint George in Oia, passing through the enchanting areas of Imerovigli and Fira, and finishing back to Oia. This route received the name Daedalic Kore of Thira, after the unique archaeological find dating back to 640 BC. Both running races were co-organized with AS Ifestos Thira and EAS SEGAS Cyclades.

From the left: Former international goalkeeper and European champion with the Greek national football team, Antonis Nikopolidis – Olympian and European champion in the 400m. with hurdles Periklis Iakovakis – Twice European gold champion in race walking Antigoni Drisbioti (photo by Mike Tsolis @ Santorini Experience)

The best swimming route in the world

On September 25, participants swam in the unique 1.5 miles (2.4 km) L & E Nomikos open water swimming route at Santorini Experience that was held from the volcano to the old port of Fira, having the imposing view of the island in front of them, with the approval of the Hellenic Swimming Federation.

World class names took part in the swim, including Sharon van Rouwendaal who finished first, Jazz Carlin, as well as athletes of the Greek national swimming team such as Dimitris Negris, Stellina Aplanti, Panagiotis Chiotis, Marina Triantafyllidi, and Marina Pakou.

The route was named in honor of the benefactor Evangelos Nomikos and his wife, in whose memory the Loula & Evangelos Nomikos Foundation was created, which built the visionary Cable Car 40 years ago. The route has been designed by the race’s technical director with Olympic and world championship distinctions in swimming, Nikos Gemelos. The event was honored with the presence of the Greek world champion in open water swimming and athletes’ representative in the Hellenic Swimming Federation’s Board of Directors, Kelly Araouzou.

Impressive underwater photo from SantoriniExperience 2022 / Sharon Van Rouwendaal and Dimitris Negris (photo by Elias Lefas @ Santorini Experience)

See here the races’ results: https://bit.ly/3xVGziQ.

Gemelos, said: “Every year at Santorini Experience is unique. This year, however, is the year that the event was re-introduced so that it will keep taking place again every year. This repetition helps us not to miss this beautiful event and ensures that the experience can be lived by everyone. Events like Santorini Experience bring people closer to swimming.”

Santorini Experience took place for the 6th year and was organized by the Municipality of Thira, the Region of South Aegean and the Sports Tourism department of ActiveMedia Group.

The event was held under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism, the General Secretariat of Sports of the Ministry of Culture and Sports and the Greek National Tourism Organization with the approval of the Hellenic Swimming Federation.

Santorini Experience joined the Greek actions of the #BeactiveHellas 2022 program of the European Commission and was held under the auspices of the General Secretariat of Sports.

The hashtag #SantoriniExperience was the number one trend of the weekend with people uploading unique moments from Santorini and the event on social media.

Impressive drone photo from the open water swimming of Santorini Experience 2022 / From the Volcano to the Old Port in Fira (photo by Boo Productions @ Santorini Experience)
5km “Aristides Alafouzos” at Akrotiri (photo by Angelos Zymaras @ Santorini Experience)



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