History

Santorini has a long and rich history which is closely related to the island’s volcanic activity.

The human habitation of Santorini can be tracked back to the Late Neolithic Period!

During the Bronze Age, between 2000 and 1650 BC, the island was known as Strongili, which means “rounded” in Greek. The settlement of Akrotiri was one of the Aegean‘s major ports, mainly because of its strategic position and the trade relationships it had established with other cultures in the Aegean. At that time Akrotiri which was greatly affected by the Minoan civilization of Crete, was a settlement with paved streets, an extensive drainage system, public buildings and market place that produced high quality pottery and art.

Around 1650 BC, the island was heavily affected by one of the largest volcanic eruptions in history, known as the Minoan eruption. The volcano eruption resulted to the sinking of the center big part of the island into the sea and a large caldera surrounded by ash deposits hundreds of meters deep was formed. Three different islands, the one today known as Santorini, Nea Kameni and Thirassia were created.

The island was inhabited again in 13th century BC by the Phoenicians. According to Herodotus, the Phoenicians were so enthrilled by the beauty of Santorini that they settled there and gave it the name “Kallisti” meaning “The most beautiful”.

In 8th century BC Santorini was occupied by Lacedaemonians who named it Thera, after the name of their king.

Between 1200 AC and 1579 AC the island was under Byzantine rule. In 1204 AC Santorini was surrendered to the Venetians and in 1207 AC became part of the Duchy of Naxos (also known as Duke of the Aegean). It was during this time that the island was named Santorini as a reference to the Basilica of Agia Irini (Saint Irene – Santa Irini) at the base of the mountain Mesa Vouno.

From 1579 to 1821 the island was under the Turkish rule. It was finally annexed to Greece in 1912.

The most recent earthquake in 1956 destroyed a big part of the island and forced many of its inhabitants to leave. Santorini has started to develop again in the late 1970s with the introduction of the tourism industry.

Nowadays, Santorini is one of the most popular destinations worldwide offering unique moments to its visitors!

Monuments and remainders of various time periods are spread around the island and are open to the public. The most important archaeological sites are the Prehistoric Town of Akrotiri and Ancient Thira.

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