In 1967, Professor Spyridon Marinatos' lifelong theory came to fruition: the eruption of Thira's volcano in 1614-1613 BC was responsible for the collapse of the Minoan civilization. Tidal waves caused by the eruption travelled 70 miles south, wiping out the Minoans of Crete.
The excavations at Akrotiri uncovered one of the most important prehistoric settlements of the Aegean. After Professor Marinatos passed away in 1974, the work continued under the successful direction of Professor Christos Doumas.
The first inhabitants arrive. Traces of their presence are found at a number of locations, particularly the settlement of Akrotiri.
Minoan Akrotiri takes on the characteristics of a large town and assumes a key role in sea trade, maturing into a sophisticated civilization.
The catastrophic volcanic eruption buries the Minoan settlement of Akrotiri under thick layers of pumice and ash, leaving the island uninhabited for centuries.
The next settlers are the Phoenicians who have a rich maritime trading culture. They stay for eight generations. The Phoenician alphabet is later adopted as the basis of Greek writing.
King Thiras arrives with a small contingent of Spartans. He establishes a strategic colony (Ancient Thira) on top of Mesa Vouno and names the island Thira (formerly Strongili & Kallisti).
The island falls under the control of the Ptolemaic dynasty (Hellenistic Kingdom of Egypt) and is transformed into an important naval base.
During the Byzantine era (Eastern Roman Empire) Santorini becomes part of the Province of the (Aegean) Islands of which Rhodes Island was capital and ruling seat.
Christianity is introduced to Santorini under Roman rule. Byzantine Emperor Alexios A’ Kominos builds the Church of Panagia Episkopi in the late 11th century.
Continuous Arab raids on the coast force inhabitants to move further inland and establish new settlements.
Muslim geographer Al Idrisi is the first to call the island "Santurin" - Santorini (Santa Irini) – formerly known as Strongili, Kallisti & Thira.
Following the Sack of Constantinople by the Crusaders in 1204, Marco I Sanudo conquers the Cyclades Islands and founds the Duchy of the Archipelago (Duchy of Naxos).
1207 - Venetian architect Giacomo Barozzi builds the Castle of Skaros 'La Roka.' Sanudo gives Thira & Thirassia to Barozzi, whose descendants rule Santorini (minus a few intervals) until 1480.
Santorini is annexed by Venice seven years after being gifted as part of a dowry by the Duke of Naxos, Giacomo III, to the Duke of Crete, Domenico Pisani.
After years of Ottoman raids, in particular by Turkish pirate Barbarossa, Santorini is finally forced to recognize the Sultan's sovereignty. Piracy is abolished, trade grows.
Santorini and all the Cyclades islands are officially annexed by the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans rule Greece for 400 years until the Greek War of Independence (1821-1833).
Volcanic eruptions result in the emergence of the famed Nea Kameni volcano, a small island in the center of the caldera.
Santorini becomes home to one of the largest merchant fleets in the Aegean until the early 19th century.
Greek War of Independence: Santorini participates with a large fleet of ships. Sea captain Evaggelos Matzarakis raises the Flag of Independence in Santorini on the 5th May of the same year.
Santorini is integrated into the newly established Greek state and officially annexed to Greece in 1912.
On the 18th October 1944 Santorini is occupied by German and Italian forces. The villages of Pyrgos and Karterados have memorial plaques to those who died.
The last recorded eruption results in the creation of the youngest volcanic rocks in Greece. The phreatic explosions and lava flow continued until 2nd February.
A powerful earthquake (7.8 Richter), with epicentre the nearby island of Amorgos, causes loss of life and destroys 85% of the island's structures. Santorini falls into decline.
After two decades of hardship and a severely reduced population, the end of the 1970s sees the arrival of tourism and the beginning of modern-day Santorini.
In 21 - 25 May, 2000, NASA held the 13th IAA "Humans in Space" Symposium in Santorini. Co-sponsored by the Greek Aerospace Medical Association and Space Research, attendees and speakers, predominantly scientists from around the world, included NASA astronauts. One revelation was that some rock samples taken from the volcano's crater came from outer space.
The lighthouse was built in 1892, during Ottoman Rule, by French company 'La Société Collas et Michel'. At first, it operated on oil; beams reached a distance of 23 nautical miles. During WW2, the lighthouse ceased operation, resuming in 1945. Manned by four persons, it had beam visibility of 25 nautical miles and rotary flash every 30 seconds. In 1983 electricity was installed; by 1988, the lighthouse was fully automated.
Excavations at Ancient Thira first began in 1896 under German archaeologist Baron Hiller von Gaertringen.
The citadel of Ancient Thira high up on Mesa Vouno was founded by Doric colonists from Sparta led by King Thiras. There, the Spartan commander encountered Phoenicians settlers who had arrived earlier, 400 years after the 1600 BC volcanic eruption and destruction of Akrotiri. The settlement later transformed into a wartime garrison under the Ptolemies during the second half of the 3rd century BC.
"..Thiras was preparing to lead out colonists from Lacedaemon [Sparta]. This Thiras was of the line of Cadmus.. [he] held the royal power of Sparta. On the island now called Thira, but then Calliste, there were descendants of Membliarus, a Phoenician [who] dwelt [there] for eight generations. It was these that Thiras was preparing to join.. to settle among.. and not drive them out but claim them as in fact his own people.”
Under the auspices of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, multi-entrance passes are available at a reduced price (Akrotiri Excavations, Ancient Thira, Museum of Prehistoric Thira.) Tickets are valid for three days.
Summer: 8.00 - 20.00 (Thurs until 3pm)
Winter: 8.00 - 15.00
Tel +30 22860 81366
8.30 - 15.30
Summer: Wednesday closed
Winter: Tuesday closed
Tel +30 22860 81939
Our colleague, Georgia Dimas, offers private tours around Santorini. A licensed tourist guide, a day out with Georgia is fun, informative, and comfortable. Itineraries can be tailor-made to your specific interest. We can arrange an excursion before your arrival or when we meet.