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Santorini - Name

Santorini was named by the Latin Empire in the thirteenth century, and is a reference to Saint Irene, from the name of the old cathedral in the village of Perissa – the name Santorini is a contraction of the name Santa Irini.  Before then, it was known as Kallísti (Καλλίστη, "the most beautiful one"), Strongili (Greek: Στρογγύλη, "the circular one"), or Thira. The later classic name of the island of Thira came from the ancient Spartan king Thira who was the first to colonize this island in the 12th century BC.

The myth of lost Atlantis


The mystery of Atlantis is perhaps the most famous myth. And yet, no one can prove that it existed orwhere exactly it was situated. However, some scientists claim that lost Atlantis actually refers to the eruption of the Minoan civilization and of ancient Thera.
The first written references to Atlantis come from the Athenian philosopher Plato (427-347 BC). In his workTimaeus-Critias, he claims to have been taught about the ancient civilization of Atlantis by the Egyptian priest Saïs on a trip to Egypt and to have passed on the information to his students Kritias and Timaeus.
What does Santorini have in common with lost Atlantis? Ancient Thira was a perfect paradise on earth, destroyed around 1,600 BC, along with several neighboring coasts, by a volcanic eruption which devastated many brilliant Aegean civilizations. Its description fits perfectly with Plato's tale about the mythical land of Atlantis that was completely destroyed, leaving no trace behind.
The mystery of lost Atlantis is just a myth, leaving countless unanswered questions. Most probably, this civilization never existed. But the theory of the volcanic eruption of Santorini is based on actual historic sources which remind us a lot of Plato’s work.


Prehistory - Settlement of Akrotiri

The area of Akrotiri was first inhabited during the Late Neolithic period (around 4500 BC) and during the 18th century BC it developed into a city that was flourishing until its destruction from the eruption of the volcano which dates back to around 1613 BC. No human skeletons were found in the settlement which means that a series of warning earthquakesforced the residents to flee in time.


Ancient times - Ancient Thira

After its complete devastation by the eruption of the volcano, the island was first colonized by the Phoenicians in the 13th century BC, who named it Kallisti and then by the Spartans under King Thira in 1115 BC who renamed it again, this time after their king. In 630 BC,colonizers fromThira founded Cyrene in North Africa. During the Hellenistic years, there are references to Santorini as a naval base of the Ptolemaic dynasty. The administrative center of the island during this period is Ancient Thira, which was situated at the top of Mesa Vouno.

Middle Ages


In 726 AD there was an eruption in the center of the caldera and a new island appeared. The eruption was considered a sign of divine wrath against the Byzantine Emperor Leo III the Isaurian, who was an iconoclast. The emperor's opponents took advantage of the event to incite an uprising, which eventually broke out in 727, both in the Cyclades and in the rest of Greece, as well as in Venice. The revolutionaries sailed to Constantinople, where their fleet was destroyed by liquid fire, on April 18, 727. The most important historical site of this era is the church of Panagia Episkopi Gonias, built by emperor Alexios I Komnenos (1081-1118 AD). After the Sack of Constantinople by the Crusaders in 1204, the Venetian Marco Sanudofounded the Duchy of the Archipelagobased in Naxos (1207). The other islands that comprised the Duchy of the Archipelagoor the Duchy of Naxos were Syros, Kimolos, Milos, Ios, Thira and Anafi.

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Modern times

In 1830, after the war for independence, Santorini became part of the newly formed Greek state. There was intense economic activity in the island at that time, as the merchant navy and the thriving transit trade in the Eastern Mediterranean were sources of prosperity. Gradually, with the development of steamships, the island declines and is gradually abandoned. This situation began to reverse in the 1980s when Santorini was established as a tourist destination.



Santorini is one of the 5 volcanic centers that make up the South Aegean Volcanic Arc. The Aegean Volcanic Arc (along with the Methana, Milos and Nisyrosvolcanoes) was formed by the subduction of the African plate beneath the Eurasian plate.
The volcano of Santorini is one of the largest submarine active volcanoes in the world andperhaps the only volcano whose caldera reaches the sea. Its largest eruption occurred during the Minoan Bronze Age, in 1613 BC. The entire center of the then circular island sank in the sea during the tremendous volcanic eruption which caused a tidal wave that literally wiped out the advanced civilization of Minoan Crete, 70 miles south of Santorini.
The volcano of Santorini has erupted many times over the centuries, constantly changing the shape of the island, causing the creation and destruction of various small islands around its perimeter. Santorini, as well as the islands of Thirasia and Aspronisi are remnants of the volcanic island of Strongili. Santorini as we know it today is a large crescent-shaped part of the (then circular) island, where the largest caldera on Earth is located, a remnant of the great eruption of 1613 BC.
Both islands can be visited and visitors can even walk to the fumaroles of Nea Kameni or swim in the hot springs of Palea, whose yellow waters contain a large amount of sulfur. In the museum lost Atlantis experience you can see in a cinematic representation of the eruption of the volcano.

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