Did you know that one of the best-known bookstores in the world is located in Oia? The gem of Nomikos Street, Atlantis Books is praised by visitors and journalists alike. It was founded by Craig Walzer and Oliver Wise in 2004. Their intention was to create a haven for book lovers, and their dream is today a well-deserved reality, a cozy little spot where you can tame your thirst for culture, but you can also meet like-minded people in an ambiance full of charm. It’s the most beautiful bookstore on earth, a “cave of books,” and a venerable landmark according to Greek journalist Thodoris Georgakopoulos who describes this unlikely temple of literature in superlative terms:
Like most old dwellings on Santorini, this building was essentially built by digging a hole into the soft volcanic rock. It was meant to look like a cave, because that was the only stable structure people could afford to build on the island at the time. Today these structures seem quaint and delightful, like hobbit-holes for the very rich.
Although the structure may not be the best setting for a bookstore, it kept on surviving against financial troubles and eviction threats in 2015. Reading de description by Georgakopoulos it is easy to see why Atlantis Books is such a delightful place to visit.
Atlantis, the books are in crammed in crooked makeshift shelves that seem to bend inwards, following the contour of the irregular walls, or piled on tables and nooks carved into the cave walls. There is a tiny wooden loft that can only hold the weight of one adult at a time -that is the non-fiction section. There is a bed hidden above the children’s section and a hidden door that opens to an unbelievably narrow staircase that leads to a trap door opening onto the roof.
It is a very unusual place, and a joy to explore. Among the tourist traps of Oia, it is a hidden gem, a wonderful surprise.
The bookstore ranks among the best in the world on many top 10 lists, including one by the National Geographic. Book enthusiasts even list the top reasons for you to go to see the store, which include sunset readings on their ocean-view terrace.
Indeed, besides quirky hobbit-style interiors, the terrace is the most interesting feature of the shop, and a popular gathering place. The bookstore also holds bookbinding classes and cultural festivals. They have a Facebook page where they announce special offers and events.