Santorini is one of the most popular travel destinations in Greece, and for a good reason. The small island has a rich history that dates back to ancient times.
It also has some of the world’s best beaches and amazing views from its cliff-side towns that leave everyone breathless.
The island is considered one of the unique places, and it is easy to understand why when you just step on one of the volcanic rocks. The energy they emit is just out of this world and makes you want to stay all your life.
In addition to the landscape and clear natural elements, the island is known to produce an amazing sweet white dessert wine you cannot miss when visiting, even if you don’t drink alcohol.
There is a lot to love about the place, and if you are considering visiting it, this article will give you more reasons to do so.
Santorini’s History: Feel the Ancestry in Your Visit
One of the beauties of Santorini lies in its history that, as mentioned before, take us quite back.
This means that if you take the time to learn a bit more about it, you should appreciate the island ten times more during your visit. Or just overall.
So, to get started with it, let’s go back to thousands of years prior.
The island that is known as Santorini or Thira today was formed based on the remnants of an enormous volcanic eruption that destroyed all settlements on an island.
The volcano’s eruption takes us back to the 2nd millennium B.C., which was responsible for the sinking west part of the island.
Many also claim that it is responsible for the destruction of the Minoan civilization due to the tidal waves.
As for human presence and where the civilizations stand, some searches and excavations at Santorini revealed that the Neolithic Period was when the first human presence occurred.
Around 3600 BC, Santorini was, in fact, home to a very important civilization. An ancient Minoan colony was discovered in a city near Akrotiri that was similar to the island of Crete.
Many wall ornaments and pottery showed naturalistic landscapes of humans and animals in the same ancient Minoan style.
Stongili was the Greek name for Santorini Island in Ancient Times. Its meaning is round in Greek and will be the name we are going to use for the next part of history.
Going back to the eruption and when it happened exactly, Strongili was the victim in 1500 BC of the massive event.
Many believe that the eruption was the primary cause of the destruction of the Minoan civilization that was located 70 nautical miles distant on the island of Crete.
Experts believe the explosion created huge waves that reached the coasts of Crete and the surrounding islands. It also caused the center of Santorini to sink, and many sections or parts of the island were destroyed by the earthquakes that occurred.
Numerous studies and researches on the volcano of Santorini have been done in modern times, including several documentaries by National Geographic.
According to some myths and following the island’s location, some theories suggest that Thira (another classical name for Santorini) was the location of Atlantis’ capital (yes, that lost civilization).
Mythological Theory About Santorini
Although we just mentioned the creation of the island, there’s another theory that is based on mythology.
An ancient Greek myth claims that Santorini was created by a miracle.
The imaginary story and myth were created by the ancient Greeks and link it to the Argonaut expedition. According to them, Jason and his companions were returning home when they landed on Anaphe (a small island in the Aegean Sea).
Euphemus dreamed that he was in a dream and was falling for a nymph, the child of the sea god Triton.
The woman who fell in love with him told Euphemus that she was pregnant with his child and that her father would be furious if he found out. Hence, she needed somewhere to hide from her father and give birth to her baby.
This woman told Euphemus to obtain a clod from Anaphe and to throw it into the ocean. All this happened during a dream.
Euphemus was able to wake up and follow the advice of the woman. He threw an earth clod into the open ocean as they set sail. Like a miracle, an island appeared to provide refuge for the pregnant nymph.
The man called this island Calliste, which refers to the most beautiful or Strogyli. This is because of its round shape. The son of Euphemus, who was born there, was named Theras.
Followed by the baby’s birth, the island was given the same name without the “s.”
Santorini Today: Final Timeline
History tells us that Phoenicians arrived on ancient Thera in the year 1,300 BC. They remained there for five generations.
In 1100 BC, Lacedaemonians occupied the island. However, the Phoenician alphabet was used by the inhabitants of Thera in 825 BC, which explains the remnant of the civilization.
Thera was able to trade with many of the Greek islands and cities between the 7th and the 6th centuries B.C. The island was a major trading center and naval base during the Hellenistic Period due to its strategic position in the Aegean.
The island was under Byzantine control between 1200 AC to 1579 AC when the church of Episkopi Gonia was established.
The Venetian Marco Sanudo obtains control of the island in 1204 AC, becoming the Duke of Aegean.
The Venetians gave the island its name after Santa Irini, a name for a Catholic church.
This time was known for all the battles between pirates and Venetians. But moving to 1579-1821, the island’s trade development is facilitated by the port developed in the Eastern Mediterranean, making this period very prosperous.
Santorini’s economy declined during the 20th century, and its inhabitants fled the island following the devastating earthquake of 1956.
In the 1970s, Santorini’s tourist industry began, and it is today one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.
The island has become a popular destination for weddings and honeymoons over the years.
Many international conferences and meetings are held there during summer at the Nomikos Convention Center and in luxury hotels.
Why You Should Visit Santorini
Let’s be honest, do you actually need us to tell you why the place is worth the visit?
As an island, Santorini is surrounded by beautiful views and beaches you can enjoy all day. People who decide to visit and spend several days are definitely looking forward to the experience.
But leaving aside the obvious of the place, what else does it have to offer?
Thanks to the incredible landscaping and the stunning places you can rent during your stay, photography is something you will want to do every day, even if you don’t like taking photos.
Besides, the place is considered one of the perfect locations for a romantic holiday or honeymoon. In fact, most visitors decide to spend the latter there over places like The Maldives and Paris due to the romantic sunsets and other things to do.
In terms of structure, the cosmopolitan style of the island that has remained and the combination with amazing attractions for tourists has enchanted millions over the years.
It is a very picturesque place you shouldn’t miss, and it feels like a fairy-tale whenever you visit. Actually, don’t you feel attracted when you watch a simple photo of any of the locations?
In addition, gastronomy on the island has remained a favorite in Greece, and unlike many believe, it suits many people’s paladar.
Finally, even when we could continue mentioning more reasons to visit it, this one changes everything: It is affordable.
There are many accommodation options, and prices can adjust to anyone’s budget. Thus, it is a favorite when it comes to having an amazing time without spending a fortune.
What to Do in Santorini: Places & Activities
Diving deeper into what you can do in Santorini, Greece, we will mention some of the best places and activities you must include in your list.
First, the sunset is memorable every day, but if you go to Oia to watch it, you will be surprised by how magnificent your photos and experience will be.
The setting and view you get from this place on the island help magnify the beauty of this time of the day, and you won’t get tired of watching the sun go down.
Boat tours or cruise ships to see the sunset are other activities people love taking.
You can rent a catamaran or pay for a full tour with other people to enjoy the view of the white buildings and constructions. You can either choose to spend all day in it or a few hours until the sunset is there for you.
These cruises often offer drinks, food, and you can go snorkeling or swim in the crystalline waters.
Other attractions include a boat tour of the Santorini volcano, swimming in the Aegean Sea, and some hot springs in the crater of the active volcano on the island.
Need an entire list? There are the main activities you can do:
- Wine tasting in several hotels and restaurants. Usually, you can book the experience for about 5 hours, including eating in the place and, sometimes, watching the sunset.
- Go for a walk to explore the main part of the island and find the best places to take photos.
- Explore the small village of Imerovigli, known for being quiet yet picturesque and filled with some of the best hotels and restaurants in Santorini.
- Pay a visit (or more) to the Red Beach, which is the most famous on the island due to its location in the Akrotiri archeological site.
- On the other hand, you’ve got the White Beach that takes the name from the white cliffs around the area.
- The Black Sand Beaches are popular, especially Perivolos and the Perissa beach, and you won’t regret your visit.
- You can visit ancient places like Thira, a city inhabited from the 9th century B.F. through 726 AD. You can have a look at some remains and find certain archeological curiosities.
- Enjoy the island’s wines and fresh fish every day + the amazing cherry tomatoes you haven’t tasted before.
Other archeological sites, many more fantastic beaches, places to enjoy the view, and tours around the island are available, and you will enjoy every single moment.
Favorite Destination: Films Shot in Santorini
Such a popular place needs to have been chosen for movies sometimes, right?
Films like “Lara Croft TombRaider: The Cradle of Life” (2003), “Bang Bang” (2014), and “Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants 2” (2008) are only a few that have Santorini as the main scenario or one of them.
Documentaries have been shot on this beautiful island several times. They highlight beaches and archeological places of the ancient place.
However, not all of them continue to be available to watch on the Internet.
National Geographic has been one of the few that made some recent documentaries, but mostly about the history in the island and not with a touristic purpose.
Movies in other languages like French and Italian have been filmed. Of course, Greek films take place on the volcanic island, and we could name several ones.
Overall, this filming location hasn’t seen major movies shot there, but there have been dozens that take place in the white buildings and crystalline waters.
5 Interesting Facts About Santorini, Greece
- There is little rain on the island throughout the year. As a result, wine is more abundant than water itself.
- Over 100 varieties of grapes can be found in Santorini.
- Only in 1960, the island was provided electricity. Before then, only donkeys and fishermen were the main inhabitants due to the living conditions.
- You can find more churches than houses on the island.
- There are only 15.500 residents on the island. However, the number of tourists and visitors surpasses the 2 million mark every year.
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