fluid. Most of the cliff-clutching houses have cool, lofty, vaulted inner rooms carved from Santorini’s soft rock mantle; only the sala (front room) is built up. This inexpensive way to enlarge a house gave rise to an architecture and an urban design in which one house’s courtyard is the roof of the house below it. More importantly, this widespread building technique has created a town of sweet integration: no collection of competing buildings, this, but a place with an overwhelming sense of community.


Fera (Thera), Santorini, Greece. Aerial view of the town and the edge of the caldera.

Further reading

Boleman-Herring, Elizabeth. 1995. Aegean Islands, Mykonos and Santorini. Boston: APA.

Bond, Howard. 1991. White Motif: The Cyclades Islands of Greece. Ann Arbor, MI: Goodrich Press.

Doumas, Christos. 1983. Thera: Pompeii of Ancient Aegean. London: Thames and Hudson.

Firth of Forth Railway Bridge


Nine miles west of Edinburgh, Scotland, the mouth of the River Forth is spanned by Europe’s first all-steel, long-span bridge. Completed in 1890 it was then the longest bridge in the world. Until 1917 it was also the largest metal cantilever, and at the beginning of the twenty-first century it remains the second largest ever built. It was a major accomplishment of Victorian engineering.

The extension of the railroad along Scotland’s east coast, to complete the direct route between Edinburgh and Aberdeen, was hampered for most of the nineteenth century by two broad inlets of the North Sea: the Firth (mouth) of Tay and the Firth of Forth. The River Forth rises near Aberfoyle and widens into its firth about 50 miles (80 kilometers) from the ocean.