During the Bronze Age, the island of Santorini was the site of a large Minoan settlement. It was a surprisingly thriving community for its day, operating textile mills and building public squares and multi-level buildings.
Around 1500 BC, a massive volcanic eruption buried the settlement in ash and lava. It wasn’t until 1967 that it was unearthed. Archaeological evidence—including brilliantly colored frescoes and goods imported from as far away as Egypt—suggests that this was a sophisticated and wealthy city. This may have been one of the first cultures in the world to have had hot and cold water as part of an elaborate indoor plumbing system.
Following the eruption, the island remained uninhabited until Phoenicians founded a site here during the Greek Dark Ages. The Dorians followed in the 9th century, establishing the settlement now known as Ancient Thera. The Roman Empire overtook the island until the Franks conquered it during the Crusades, christening it “Santorini” in honor of Saint Irene. After a period under the Ottoman Empire (1579 to 1821), Santorini was reunited with Greece.
Santorini Lifestyle and Culture
On Santorini, the pace of life is slow and easy, and locals are famously welcoming to travelers. You’ll find it’s easy to embrace life on the island, where siesta brings a hush over its magical setting from 3:00-5:00 p.m. every afternoon. This is mikro ipno, loosely translated as “nap time.” During these cherished hours, conversations are kept to a whisper, phone calls are forbidden and the island’s ubiquitous motorcycles and mopeds come to a standstill.
Santorini Sights and Landmarks
Ancient Akrotiri, the “Minoan Pompeii,” was one of the first civilizations in the Greek Islands. Buried by the ash and lava of a cataclysmic volcanic eruption in 1500 BC, the city was frozen in time for millennia. Today, tools and pots lie in the same spots where they were abandoned. You can explore the ancient warehouses that still line the main street and hear the echoes of the ghosts of ancient Minoans in the town’s spacious plaza.
Santorini’s capital city, Fira, is one of the most picturesque places in the world. Its whitewashed homes cling precariously to dramatic cliffs, seemingly untouched by the passage of time. At the city’s wine museum, you can learn about Volcan wines, while at the many sun-splashed outdoor cafés, you can taste them.
Santorini Entertainment and Activities
Santorini’s pebbly beaches are among the most beautiful anywhere, set amid the island’s arid landscapes and kissed by cool, azure waters.
On the island’s northern coast, journey to the village of Oia. From its steep slopes, you’ll enjoy sweeping views of the Aegean. Many of its buildings are chiseled right into the volcanic rock, giving the city a primitive, understated beauty.
For an indulgent experience in a stunning setting, visit the hot springs near the active volcano of Thira, said to cure a wide array of maladies.View Cruises to Santorini