Sunset casts a golden hue over picturesque Oia village

May 29, 2015, 1 p.m.

The small but gorgeous village of Oia is positioned on a steep incline on the island of Santorini and is famous for its buildings of white and blue. Tiny cobbled walkways wind throughout the village, where tourists wander in and out of galleries, shops and restaurants. The island wasn’t always centered around tourism, though.

Settled sometime before the 13th century by the Greeks, it rose to its height of activity in the 19th century when it was an important maritime port and area for trade within the Mediterranean, especially as it was positioned on the route between Russia and Alexandria Egypt. At its peak, the village was home to 2,500 residents and around 130 sailing ships, but as sailing made way for steam ships and the economic decline of the entire area set in, the village slowly diminished in popularity and population. A 1956 earthquake essentially flattened the town, and by 1977 there were only 300 inhabitants left.

The rebuilding of the beautiful architecture, however, helped turn it into the buzzing tourist attraction it is today, with travelers seeking out the spectacular views, the gorgeous buildings organized in a quirky manner to best take advantage of the steep landscape, and the beauty of life in a small village on the seaside.

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Jaymi Heimbuch is a writer and photographer at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.