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Santorini’s History: Ancient Civilizations, Blue Domes, and the Volcano

Santorini’s History: Ancient Civilizations, Blue Domes, And The Volcano

You might already know that Santorini is famous for its blue-domed chapels, white-washed houses, dramatic caldera, and volcano. But did you know that the history of Santorini is pretty interesting as well? In this article, we will delve into the fascinating past of this Cycladic gem and share historical facts about Santorini that you probably don’t know. Are you ready for a dive into the goldmine of Santorini’s history?

When did the history of Santorini start?

Excavations carried out on the island have shown that the island has been populated since the middle of the 3rd millennium B.C. More specifically, there were Bronze Age civilizations in Santorini between 3000 and 2000 BC. These civilizations continued to thrive until the volcanic eruption, also known as the Minoan eruption, which took place around 1600 BC, during the Minoan civilization era.

One of the most impressive findings that provide some insight into the way people lived in this era is Akrotiri, a prehistoric settlement that remained intact for millennia under volcanic ashes. That’s why the Minoan Akrotiri is also known as ‘The Greek Pompeii’! The excavation that started in 1967 in the archaeological site of Akrotiri revealed multi-story buildings, furniture, pottery, everyday objects, and an innovative drainage system, showing that the people who lived there were wealthy. To trace the ruins of this city, you can visit the Archaeological Site of Akrotiri in Fira!

Why are the domes in Santorini blue?

Whether you’ve seen postcards from Santorini or visited the island yourself, one thing that has probably stood out to you is the picturesque blue domes of the churches. But why are the domes in Santorini blue? The answer is that Santorini’s churches were painted white and blue by the inhabitants in the second half of the 20th century to match the colors of the Greek flag.

Very soon, the blue-domed churches became the island’s trademark with millions of tourists visiting it just to be photographed in front of them -it’s arguably one of the best experiences in Santorini! If you’re wondering where to find the most beautiful blue-domed churches on the island, Oia, Firostefani, and Imerovigli are your best options!

What did Santorini look like before the volcano erupted?

One of its original names, Strogyli (round), indicates that Santorini had a round shape before the volcanic eruptions that happened millions of years ago. These eruptions divided the originally round Santorini into smaller islands, including Santorini, Palea Kameni, Nea Kameni, and Therasia. Palea Kameni is famous for its sulfur-rich hot springs, while in Nea Kameni, you will find the craters of the still active volcano. They are too good to miss!

What is the history of Fira in Santorini?

Fira, the capital of Santorini, is one of the most popular and most photographed towns on the island, alongside Oia. The history of Fira in Santorini starts way back in the 18th century when the inhabitants left the old capital Kasteli Skarou, where Imerovigli is now located, due to the damages caused by earthquakes.

The new town they established was named Fira and later became the island’s capital. Today, in Fira, you will find the Museum of Prehistoric Thera, where you can immerse yourself in the fascinating history of Santorini, discovering findings of excavations carried out throughout the island. It’s one of the best things to do in Santorini!

What is the real name of Santorini?

The name Santorini, given to the island during the Latin Empire era in the thirteenth century, derives from Saint Irene, a church in Perissa. However, before that, Santorini was also known as Kallisti and Strogyli.

Strogyli, which means ‘round’ in Greek, refers to the original round shape of the island before the volcanic eruptions. Another, more recent name for Santorini, still used, is Thera, which derives from Theras, the name of the Spartan’s leader who had colonized the island.

What is the Greek myth of Santorini?

Santorini has been associated with several myths throughout history! The most famous of these is Plato’s Myth of Atlantis, according to which Atlantis was where Santorini and Crete are today. Due to earthquakes and floods, Atlantis was destroyed or, according to others, lost, leaving an intriguing mystery behind it!

Another myth about Santorini, associated with one of the island’s original names, is the myth of Kallisti. According to this myth, Poseidon’s and Venus’s son Triton created Santorini just by immersing his hand in the waters of the Aegean between Crete and the mainland. This new volcanic island was named Kallisti (the most beautiful one) due to its beauty!

Why are the rocks red in Santorini?

The most wonderful thing about Santorini is arguably its lunar landscape, created by millennia of volcanic eruptions -that’s why Santorini’s beaches are surrounded by volcanic rocks! One of the island’s most popular and photogenic beaches is Red Beach, surrounded by dramatic red rocks that owe their beautiful color to the oxidation of iron-rich volcanic lava. Even if you visit the island in the shoulder season, it’s worth visiting Red Beach just to take photos -you will see it at its most superb without the crowds!

The history of Santorini in Greece is fascinating! From the myths associated with the island to the volcanic eruptions and the prehistoric settlement of Akrotiri, there are so many things to discover. So, whether or not you’re a history buff, book an escape to Santorini island and experience the magic of its past!


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