The perimeter is approximately 36 nautical miles. Thera, Therassia, Aspronisi and the volcanoes (Palaia Kameni and Nea Kameni where the crater of the volcano exists) form the cluster of islands which is called Santorini. It is included, together with Methana, Nisiros and Milos, in the most active of volcanoes in Greece. The three main islands form a"ring" around the Caldera, the bay which was created when the central part of ancient Strongyli sank to the seabed. Its dimensions are 8x5 km and its depth is as low as 370 m. The great crater formed by the volcanic eruption of around 1600 BC, adds to its distinct atmosphere: settlements are built on the edge of the crater's inner walls and not on the sea level, as in other islands. In addition, Santorini is one of the few places worldwide where architectural complexes of underground rock-hewn houses still survive inside the volcanic soil. The Caldera and the whole cluster of the Santorini islands have been characterized as an area of outstanding natural beauty. The name Thera is taken after the legendary settler Theras of Sparta, who settled in the island and founded the homonymous town in Mesa Vouno approximately the 10th century B.C. The name Santorini was given in 1153 by the Venetians and is referred to Arab geographer Edrisi. It is a pronunciation of both words Santa and Irene (Saint Irene), taken after either from the name of the church in the valley of Therassia, or from the name of the early Christian basilica in Perissa, which is not preserved. The main island, Thera, has a shape of a half moon and is located in the easternmost position of the cluster. The west side consists of the walls of the Caldera which preserve the picture of its geological history and illustrate the different phases of the volcanic activity. There are 13 villages in Thera and 3 villages in Therassia. The capital of the island is Fira. The name derived from corruption of the word Thera, which is the official one.
According to legend, Santorini emerged from the depths of the sea- opinion justified by the timeless activity of the undersea volcano and the geological topography of the island.
The first human remains, dating back to the Stone Age, show that the island has been inhabited since the prehistoric times. There is some evidence of life in the early Bronze Age, in the mid-3rd millennium BC, during the second period of the early Cycladic civilization (2800-2100 BC). However, from the middle Bronze Age (1900-1600 BC), evidence becomes more abundant, showing great development.
In the area of Akrotiri (Promontory), there was a prehistoric settlement with a very important port. The great volcanic eruption in the late Bronze Age (ca.1600 BC) buried the settlement under 30 metres of ash.
- Historical times
The 1600 B.C. eruption changed the form of the island. We do not know if all the residents evacuated in time before the great catastrophe, where they moved, or when they returned. Occasional findings in the area of Monolithos suggest habitation from at least the 13th century B.C.
According to Herodotus, the island named Strogili (round) due to its shape, was renamed Kallisti due to its beauty (kalos in Greek). Phoenicians settled in Kallisti. They were led by Kadmos who was travelling to search for Evropi (Europa) kidnapped by Zeus who had been transformed in a bull.
The settlers occupied the island for eight generations. Later on Spartans and their leader Theras, son of Autesionas, came along. In the 10th century the island became colony of the Dorians.
Geometric times (10th -8th century B.C)
There is not much data from the geometric times. Some researchers claim that in the end of 9th or early 8th century B.C. the residents together with together with people from Milos and Crete were the first to adopt the Phoenician alphabet. The cemeteries discovered in the SE side of Sellada and the one discovered on the edge of Mesa Vouno were built during the geometric period. Cemeteries were used systematically until 7th century B.C. and in the graves possibly placed were ancient statues of Kouros, probably imported from Naxos.
Archaic Period (7th-6th CENTURY B.C.)
During this period the residents developed relations with nearby islands such as Crete, Milos, Paros and with important centers of that time, such as Athens, Corinth, Rhodes and Ionian centers in the eastern coast of the Aegean Sea. In 630 B.C. Therans founded Kirini, a colony in the northern coast of Africa.
Data for this period exist from findings in the cemetery located NE, in Sellada, which had been used until the 4th century B.C. and from findings in the cemetery of Kamari. Therans farmed, fished and traded with their own products. In the 6th century Thera had its own currency with two dolphins as an emblem.
Relations with the important centers of that time continued and wine was one of the most exportable products. During the Peloponnesian war, Thera supported Sparta as it was a Dorian colony. During Hellenistic years it became a nautical military base of Great Alexander's Ptolemaic successors and the island was used as a station for the southern to northern Aegean Sea routes. Important for them was the location of ancient Thera and the bays of Kamari and Perissa.
Findings for this period are few and suggest that the centre during these years was in the SE side of Thera. In the 4th century there was an organized church with a Bishop. The first one is said to be Dioskouros (324-344). Christian temples were founded in the place where ancient shrines or temples used to be such as the one of Pythian Apollo in ancient Thera.
In the Byzantine period, Thera belonged to the theme of the Aegean Sea, but had no major political or military importance.
Due to Arab invasions that took place during the 9th century, the residents moved to the inland, to fortified and unseen from the sea places. This era is marked by decline and poverty.
In the second half of the 11th century when the pirates' bases of operations were destroyed and the Arabs were weakened, the byzantine church of Episkopi Gonia was founded by Alexius I Comnenus.
In the late 12th century, the byzantine fleet lost power, so the islands of the Aegean Sea were once again hit by piracy.
- Rule of the West
In 1207 Marcos Sanudos founded the Duchy of Archipelagos (or Naxo's), so Thera and Therassia were ceded to Iakovos Barotsi and were owned by his family with short intervals until 1335. During the Venetian era the feudal system applied and Santorini became the headquarters of the Catholic Archiodese, one of four in the Duchy. In 1335 Nicolo Sanudo expelled the Barotsi family and added the island to the Duchy of Naxos.
After 1487, it was Venice that set the fate of the islands in the Duchy of the Aegean (1487). During the rule of the West, the islands suffered a great deal of pirate invasions from the Franks, the Muslims even the Greeks, which forced residents to live in fortified settlements called Kastelia.
To make matters worst the competition among the local Latin dynasties and between the Duke and the Sultan, increased. At the same time, the coexistence of the two Christian communities, Catholic and Orthodox, often caused tension instigated by the religious leaderships of both communities.
In 1537, Khayr ad-Dīn Barbarossa, the notorious ex pirate and admiral of the Turkish fleet, took over the island in the name of the Sultan. In 1566 it was ceded to Joseph Naji, a wealthy Jewish banker who governed the islands through a representative until 1579. Then Santorini and the other islands, except Tinos, were finally ceded to the Ottoman empire.
- Medieval Settlements
In the Middle Ages, Santorini settlements fell into two categories: the fortified ones, which were called Kastelia (castles), and the unfortified ones. Kastelia are mentioned in written sources from the early 15th century. Since the Byzantine times, pirates were the biggest problem faced by the Aegean islands, taking over the shores, imposing taxes and looting local communities. In an attempt to protect themselves, the people of Santorini built the Kastelia, where everyone -even vassals- took refuge when the alarm sounded. There is evidence of five such castles on the island since the Rule of the West.
The 5 Castles
Skaros, in the village of Imerovigli, was the most important castle, and that is where the Franks and their Lord came to settle. The second most important one was the Kasteli of the Epano Meria (Upper Side, i.e. Oia), which was called "of Aghios Nikolaos". The third one was in the area of Pyrgos (Tower), the fourth in Emporio and the fifth in the Akrotiri settlement. The last four ones were still in very good condition before the catastrophic earthquake of 1956.
The exact period when the Κastelia were built remains unknown (even though it is definitely placed between the 14th and 18th centuries), since no relevant inscriptions or historical evidence survive. What we do know, however, is that they stood in strategic locations, hard to approach by sea.
They looked a lot like fortresses, thanks to the morphology of the ground and the fortified houses of the outer perimeter, with few openings to the outside, practically forming a wall. On the inside, they were densely structured, with two or three-story buildings leaning against each other. These were long and narrow, with a common middle wall supporting a dome. Lower floors were partly built above the ground and partly rock-hewn underground. Streets were very narrow.
Nearly all members of the Catholic aristocracy of Venetians lived within these castles. The rulers had churches built in the entrances, dedicated to St. Theodosia, patroness of all Kastelia.
The Watchtowers (Goulades)
A typical feature of the Kastelia was the defensive watchtowers. They were called Goulades. They had a rectangular shape, many floors and thick walls. These buildings, either public or private, were the last refuge of the locals in case of an attack. There were Goulades inside the castles (as in Oia and Akrotiri) or outside (as in Fira and Emporio) so as the villagers could take refuge there.
The best preserved Goulas is that of Fira, known as Delendas' Goulas. It was built by the Bodgis' Venetian family before the depopulation of the castle in Skaros. Resident before the second world war was the French noble Compte de Simoni. Today it belongs to the family of Petros M. Nomikos.
Before the earthquake of 1956, the best-preserved castle was that of Pyrgos. Skaros in Imerovigli is destroyed; however, it served as prototype to build the other Kastelia on the island. During the Turkish Rule, when pirate raids subsided, construction was expanded beyond the defensive perimeter of the Kastelia, new settlements were founded and the capital was moved from Skaros to Fira. The expansion of the Kastelia and the creation of new settlements did not follow a specific plan. The morphology of the ground was the deciding factor and the roads connecting the Kastelia to the working areas and the production sites (such as the kánaves and windmills) were the main expansion routes. New communities were created around the main roads, as was the case with Fira, Firostefani, and Imerovigli.
The years 1700-1900 were crucial for the formation of structured communities, which were eventually urbanized, especially after the Greek Revolution.
- Turkish Rule-20th century
In 1580, sultan Murad III granted substantial privileges to the Cycladic islands, boosting trade and favoring local governments.
Living conditions changed. Christians were free to build or repair their churches (Francois Richard reports 700 in total at that period, most of which were Orthodox). The faith of locals to Virgin Mary was very strong: they vowed to Ηer before each travel and they left their property to Ηer after their death.
According to Richard, residents ate barley bread and salted quail caught in their nets, drunk rain water from cisterns, cultivated vines, barley, beans, fava, millet, squash, cucumbers and melons. The wine was exported to Chios, Smyrni, Chandakas (Heraklion of Crete) and Constantinople. He also described the 1650 eruptions. In the end of 16th and 17th century the Kasteli of Pyrgos, the churches of the Transformation of Jesus, St. Theodosia, the church of the Virgin Mary, St. Catherine, Taxiarchis and many more, were built.
Franks had presence on the island even during the Ottoman Rule, while in 1642 Jesuit monks settled and got permission to build their first church. Since the Kasteli of Skaros was abandoned, they used building material from there.
In the late 17th century the privileged status of Santorini and other islands, together with changes in the community's organization, allowed financial growth- something more apparent in the 18th century. Merchants established close relations to famous ports in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea (Alexandria, Constantinople, Odessa), where they also founded important colonies.
Agricultural and marine activities continued to grow in Santorini; by the 18th century, the island had 9,000 people. In the 19th and the early 20th centuries, commercial sailing flourished and numerous ships from Santorini sailed the Aegean, transporting goods. On the eve of the 1821 revolution the Santorinian sail boats were several dozens, since the island had the third largest fleet in the Aegean Sea after the ones of Hydra and Psara. In 1856 it numbered 269 boats and the growth continued until the prevalence of steamboats in the late 19th century. Great example was Oia, the so called "village of the captains".
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, industry also started developing in Santorini. The earthquake of 1956 accelerated the island's economic decline. The impressive recovery began in the 1970's, with the amazingly rapid growth of tourism.
The island of Thera, although non-volcanic, did not always possess its present size. Prior to volcanic activity in the region, two large massifs still prominent today, of crystalline rocks such as schist, clay slate, limestone and marble, were all that the original island consisted of.
The first massif lay in the south-central and southeastern part of Thera, Mesa Vouno, extending northwest to Athinios by way of the prominent hills on which the monastery of the Prophet Elias and the village of Pyrgos now reside. The second massif, an extension of the first, runs from the northwest and terminates at Gavrilos. The most elevated region, by far, is the rocky mass of Prophet Elias at 565 meters. Next in size is Mesa Vouno at 369 meters. Mesa Vouno projects southeastward between the coastal plains of Kamari and Perissa to form a bold headland extending into the sea. Gavrilos (elevation 161 meters) also projects seaward towards Vlychada.
After the commencement of volcanic activity many hundreds of thousands of years ago, these extensive remnants were enlarged from time to time mainly towards the north, northwest and west by the spread of lava from various vents. By the first half of the second millennium B.C. the island had taken a round shape, part of the outline of which roughly corresponded to the present outer coastline of the Santorini isles –Thera, Therassia and Aspronisi.
To the northwest is the second largest island of the group, Therassia, which is about 6 kilometers long from north to south and 2 kilometers wide from east to west. It is wholly volcanic, composed of alternating sheets of lava and layers of tuff.
West of Thera and south of Therassia is the small, uninhabited island of Aspronisi (meaning white island). The name derives from the conspicuous and thick uppermost layer of white pumice adorning it which, from afar, resembles steep cliffs covered in snow.
Thera, Therassia and Aspronisi, the surviving land fragments of what was once a whole island, almost completely enclose an oval lagoon measuring about 11 kilometers from north to south and 7 kilometers from east to west. There are only three entrances to this lagoon. One opening is between Thera and Therassia in the northwest region. A second lies between Therassia and Aspronisi to the west and a third between Aspronisi and Thera in the southwest. The greatest depths of this lagoon are in the northern half, plunging more than 410 meters. However, considerable variations in its depth have been recorded at different times and at different places.
The sides of the island facing the lagoon form precipitous cliffs plunging almost vertically into the sea. These cliffs are generally as steep below the water as they are above. They reach a maximum height of 330 meters at Imerovigli. This stunning manifestation of nature, beautiful as it is, is the result of a brutal attack on the island, exposing its innards for all to see. Bare rock has been revealed and is under scrutiny for science to unearth the geological birth and history of this volcanic island long before it could ever be recorded by man.
The Caldera spans all three islands in a striking display of nature at its best. A spectrum of white, red and black shades are dispersed in panoramic dimensions only to reunite creating a dramatic, yet astonishing sight. Here and there on the rim of the Caldera, snowy white villages appear suspended precariously in mid-air. Spiraling paths descend from atop the cliffs to the water's edge. Nowhere else on earth can one observe such perilous manmade dwellings among the harmony and almost magical array of nature's hues.
It is no wonder that Santorini is formally considered the most beautiful island in the world.
Geological studies have revealed that the first volcanic activity in the broader area of Santorini can be dated to 2.5 million years ago and that it gave rise to the Christiana complex. In the area closely bordering the island of Santorini, the volcano became active about 1 million years ago while, within the last 400 thousand years, it has seen at least 12 violent eruptions. They take place at 20 thousand year intervals, as a rough estimate, and cause giant collapse craters (calderas). In between these violent eruptions that decimate the island, there are intervals characterized by milder outbursts, which vary in duration.
These calm interludes are marked by an array of eruptions of lower intensity, which slowly build up the island's land mass anew. Santorini's volcanic activity is modulated by a tectonic rift, which begins at Christiana, traverses Santorini and culminates in the island of Amorgos. This rift remains active to this day and was responsible for the deadly earthquake of 1956.
It thus follows that Santorini's course of volcanic activity follows a pattern of a cyclical series of eruptions. Over the span of many millennia, the volcano is intermittently activated without exhibiting violent eruptions. Nevertheless, the lava which accumulates in the meantime gradually expands and elevates the volcanic cones. However, the higher the cones rise, the longer the course that needs to be covered by the magma before reaching the surface, thus making it all the harder for it to escape and giving rise to the phenomenon of its more generalized premature freezing within the cones. This way, the Theran magma gradually freezes and solidifies within the cones before reaching the earth's crust, thus blocking the craters.
Following the congestion of the craters, there follows a long period of relative calm, during which large quantities of magma are trapped underground, causing the increasing pressure being exerted on the surface to steadily mount. It periodically finds an outlet for its release by furrowing small explosion vents which, however, do not suffice in order to fully release the pent up energy.
However, as soon as the intensity of the pressure exercised on the subterranean cones exceeds the force binding the overlying cones to one another, which have mounted rows upon rows of lava layers, then the magma finds an outlet for its release through the surface, escaping with ferocious intensity, in an explosive outburst that utterly razes and explodes everything in its path.
The cones are crushed and destroyed and immense quantities of volcanic material are thrust at immense force to great heights and over extensive distances. The remnants of the volcano collapse into the subterranean chambers which, now emptied of magma, can no longer support the weight of the overlying layers. In the place of the cones which have been razed, exploded and collapsed there remains a giant circular collapse crater (Caldera), which is surrounded by tall and steep cliffs and is swiftly infiltrated by the advancing sea, by means of the creation of a vast tidal wave (tsunami).
Steam at an extremely high temperature also escapes together with the magma. It bursts forth through the surface and is instantaneously converted to aqueous vapor.
The two latest violent eruptions on Santorini occurred roughly 21 and 3.6 thousand years ago, respectively. Indeed, the latest one took place during the Minoan Period and has been dated specifically to the second half of the 17th century B.C., based on various methodologies (such as the carbon dating method, as well as by analysis of tree barks and volcanic ash on fossils found in ice). Moreover, this eruption led to the disappearance of a great civilization that had flourished on the island and whose origins dated all the way back to the beginning of recorded history, to the prehistoric era.
However, the Caldera found on Santorini today was not formed during the latest violent eruption, which took place in the Minoan era. It was formed gradually, as the result of a series of collapses spanning a succession of historical periods marked by volcanic activity, which cumulatively led to the geomorphology of the island as we see it today.
South of Monolithos, you will find the black pebbled beach of AVIS, or Exo Gonia: a popular destination for windsurfers and other sea sports enthusiasts, because it is windy. It took its name after the tomato processing plant operating there under the name AVIS.
A small beach near the Akrotiri excavation. There are a lot of fish taverns and a small hotel with a café.
This rather secluded beach resembles an outdoor sculpture museum. It is fairly undiscovered, since access is through a small road starting just before the village of Akrotiri. There is also a fish tavern near the water. The word Almyra in Greek means salty (implying sea salt).
- White Beach
Huge white rocks, pumice stone, black sand and white pebbles, crystalline waters: this small beach makes a sharp contrast to the nearby beach of Kokkini (Red) beach. There are a few umbrellas and sun beds, along with a canteen. You can get there following the path from the neighboring beach of Kambia, or by boat from Akrotiri beach and Kokkini (Red) beach.
The impressive chimneys you will notice as you enter the fishermen's village, belong to Nomikos tomato-processing plant. This small factory, along with others, such as knitting factories and wineries, operated on the island during the late 19th and the early 20th century.
The white volcanic rocks of Vlyhada have amazing shapes and they are really impressive. They have been created in the course of centuries by rain and wind. The beach has dark thin sand and small pebbles, a few sun beds, umbrellas, a canteen, a beach bar. It's really long, so there is room for everyone and it rarely looks crowded. Bare in mind that during the summer it can get quite windy, so ask the locals before you go. Above the small port there are a few taverns.
It is a small village on the NE side of the island, 3,7 km from Fira. It has view of the plain. It is a rural village with a small port and fishing boats. It's churches are St. Efstratios (parish) and St. Panteleimonas (cemetery). You will also find taverns, hotels and rooms to let.
In the Vourvoulos's square and outside the village on the place of executions, you will see the monuments of the five people executed by the Germans (4.29.1944), after a commando operation against them.
- Thermi (Christos)
Black pebbles and pumice, red volcanic rocks and geothermal springs at the ruined baths that used to offer a natural SPA! If you come across this beach as you sail around the Caldera, you will be impressed by the small church of Hristos ta Thermi (Christ at Thermi), which is built inside the volcanic rocks, next to the ruined rock-hewn houses. To get there on foot, follow the cobbled road and then the path starting below the "Ta Thermi" pizzeria, near Megalohori village.
It is one of the most famous and cosmopolitan beaches of the Cyclades and is always filled with foreign visitors. It has dark colored sand and crystal clear waters. There are umbrellas and sun beds along the beach. Above it raises the imposing Mesa Vouno (Mountain) where ancient Thera is built. The wide coastal footpath which is closed for vehicles all through the summer, is full of cafes, restaurants and shops. In the settlement there are also many hotels and rooms to let. In the inner streets you will find many more shops, super markets, car rentals, travel agencies etc.
A small pebbly beach with crystall clear waters, umbrellas and sun beds. It is among the beaches called Aspri (White) and Kokkini (Red).
- Kokkini (Red) beach
This impressive beach is a real attraction of the island! The view of the red, almost vertical, volcanic rocks and the small, reddish pebbles will take your breath away. This volcanic scenery is dotted with umbrellas and the figures of visitors with colorful clothes and accessories, coming here to marvel at the wild landscape, take a swim, or rent a canoe or sea bicycle and enjoy the view from the water. It will not be necessary to bring any supplies with you, since there are small canteens. You may come on foot (10 minutes walk), or you can choose the boats leaving from Akrotiri beach, Kamari, Perissa.
This beach has small black and red pebbles. Also, a huge, impressive rock offering its shadow during the hottest hours of the day. It was -and still is- popular with nudists. It is usually fairly quiet and there are no sun beds or umbrellas. Therefore, you should bring with you any supplies you might need. At a short distance east there is the underwater crater of Culumbus which last erupted in 1650. Those who dare, may go for an exploration of the deep: the crater is 500 metres from the surface, but its SW end is just 10 metres down.
- Mesa Pigadia
Small white pebbles and wonderful pumice rocks: This beach, that looks like Vlyhada, used to be very popular with bikers and other visitors searching for alternative destinations. It is fairly organized, with umbrellas, sun loungers, taverns. The colored doors of the syrmata, the small rock hewn structures for fishermen's boats built into the volcanic rock, make Mesa Pigadia even more picturesque. Through a cave you can go to Aspri beach.
You may access Mesa Pigadia by boat.
An organized beach with shallow waters and black sand. It is a popular destination for families; there is a playground with wooden fixtures, beach volley, basketball and football courts. There are taverns, hotels, cafés, mini markets, etc. You will notice the monolith that gave its name to the beach, as soon as you land on the island by plane, or driving around the airport.
- Baxedes – Paradisos
An extended beach close to Oia (Paradeisos=Paradise). Due to the shallow waters it is preferred also by families. It has dark sand and volcanic rocks. Driving on the main road along the coast, you can pick out any spot you like to make your stop. Many people take their morning or afternoon walk by this road, to enjoy the beautiful view. In the area there are taverns and small hotels.
- Karterados Beach
The landscape here is impressive. A dirt road runs along the beach of Exo Gialos, with tiny black pebbles, dark blue waters, looming rocks from the wind and the rain. Also, salt cedars casting their much-coveted shadow. To get to Exo Gialos you will have to drive through the village of Karterados and all the way down to the coastline. From Exo Gialos you can drive towards Monolithos beach.
Perivolos followed in growth Perissa, which was centuries ago a holiday and swimming destination for the locals.
Today, it is a popular and busy beach, also preferred by youngsters. It is essentially a single large beach together with its neighboring Perissa. It is extensive, with black colored sand, crystal clear waters and a series of beach bars and restaurants which offer umbrellas sun lounges and other facilities. There are also water sports, beach volley, taverns and ouzeries (special small taverns serving ouzo together with snacks), cafes, bars and hotels.
An interesting feature of this beach is the impressive old tomato-processing plant. In the south part of Perivolos, you will find the quiet beach of Aghios Georgios.
It is next to Perivolos, situated in the shadow of the imposing Mesa Vouno, which separates it from Kamari. Perissa used to be a holiday destination for the residents of the island and had fish taverns from the old days. It grew after the 1956 earthquakes when it started being densely populated.
On the beach, which has fine black sand, you will find sun beds and umbrellas. There are beach bars, taverns, a water park, a diving center, hotels, rooms to let etc.
Dominating the area is the temple of Timios Stavros (Honest Cross), the largest church in Thera, with 5 domes and an ornate steeple reconstructed with initiative from the Panthiraiki Union, after being destructed by the 1956 earthquakes. For those of you who love to walk, there is the path to Mesa Vouno. You will reach the chapel called Chamilos Profitis (Prophet) Elias and from there you will witness a view that will take your breath away!
Another walk is towards Panagia Katefiani, the church built within the rock between Perissa and Mesa Vouno.
Near Megalohori, similar to Thermi –and equally isolated. To get there, you have to go downhill quite a long way on an impressive path for about 20΄. You will pass by the church of Panagia tis Plakas (Virgin Mary of Plaka) and the old baths, which stand just a few metres above sea level.
At the east side of the island, near Culumbos beach, you will discover Pori beach. It is accessible by the main asphalt road running through the north-eastern side of Santorini. Locals and their families often go to this beach. There is also a fish tavern.
This beach is near Ammoudi. You should park your vehicle and then walk to the beach which has grey sand and small pebbles. It is divided in half by some big rocks. The scenery looks even more interesting from the water. While swimming, you can enjoy the compositions of black and white volcanic material on the huge rocks. Among them, the building of an old pesthouse stands out like a... ghost from the past.
Therassia is a miniature of what Thera used to be several years ago. Therassia's villages are still surrounded by the "aura" of the past, waiting to be explored. Therassia is less than a mile away from Ammoudi, Oia. Υou can easily cross from there in 20΄on your own or a traditional boat. You can also get there by going on a day trip to the volcano.
The island is oblong in shape, with an 8 km diameter in length and a 2.5 km diameter in breadth. Its total surface is 9.3 square kilometers. It shares the same morphology and similar architecture with Thera as to its houses and churches.
According to Greek mythology, the island was named after the younger daughter of King Theras, Therassia, to whom he offered the island to build a majestic palace in the area of Kavos-Korfos.
It is believed that it was formed during the great volcanic eruption of 1600 BC. The famous Greek historian Plinios mentions that in 237 BC it was detached from Santorini after an earthquake.
Ptolemy mentions that Therassia was a city where important prehistoric relics of the Cycladic civilization were found and that throughout history it followed the fate of Thera as its "appendage". In 1397, the Duke of Naxos Francesco I Crispo is believed to have offered Therassia to his son Marco I Crispo, along with the island of Ios.
In 1866, the mines in Therassia and Thera were in full swing due to exportation of Theran land to Egypt for the construction of the Suez Canal. Some workers in the N. Nomikos-Sigouras Alafouzos mine discovered an ancient building, several pots and a human skeleton.
Doctor and member of the Parliament Nicholaos Nomikos together with Alafouzos made sure of the building's excavation and relative articles were published in magazines and newspapers. Due to the volcano's activity during that period, several scientists from all around the world had arrived in the area, among them French volcanologist Fouque who in 1867 excavated in Therassia and studied the ruins of buildings and discoveries –fruits, stone vessels (bowls), utensils and tools, an arrow made of obsidian.
The settlement of Therassia is dated in the Late Bronze Age and these discoveries triggered excavations in Akrotiri and other places of Thera. In fact, in 1867 Fouque himself begun excavations in the region around Akrotiri to find same pieces of vessels as those in Therassia, knives, arrows and two gold rings from a necklace.
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