Santorini or Thera is a special island. Santorini – since the ancient times – has never seen a war, never has it been conquered or raided. The fate of Santorini always dependend by the volcano. The volcano created Santorini, destroyed Santorini and finally revived the island through its’ ashes.
The island was first habitated around 3000 BC. Its’ name then was Kallisti or Strongilli. The latter was given due to the island’s shape. The volcane had not started its’ catastrophic action, which changed even the shape of the island! First inhabitants of the island were the Foinicians who created an exceptional civilization in Acrotiri. The excavations brought to light an ancient settlement which was buried under the volcano ashes for centuries. The findings show that the Minoan civilization had a great influence on the island.
Around 1450 BC a hugr volcanic erruption completely destroyed the island. A large part of it sank in the depths of the Aegian Sea. Strongilli now has the shape of half-moon ( the present shape of the island), while two new smaller islands are created. Thirasia and Old Kameni.
The tidal wave reached Crete and brought great disaster. In fact many historians connect the destruction of the Minoan civilization with the erruption of the Santorini volcano. Two to three centuries had to pass after this catastrophe until the island waqs inhabitated again. More specifically, according historical facts, around 1300 BC a new civilization begun to flourish on the island.
At the end of the 12th century BC the Dorians, from Lakedaimona, arrived on the island, whose king name was Thiras. Thus, the island was renamed to Thera. Many new cities were established, a harbour was built and the island begun to flourish. At 825 BC Thira adopts the Foinician alphabet. The ruins of ancient Thira and the findings that are shown in the Archaeolgical Museum give vital information for this culture.
In the years of Byzantium and around the 3rd century Thera becomes the episcopical seat of Dioskoros, and its’ main religion is Christianism.
Emperor Alexios the 1st built the church of Virgin Mary, which is the most important Byzantine monument of the island. In the same village (Pyrgos) there is a Byzantine museum where beautiful icons are exhibited.
In 1204 the Francs take over Thera. A new age begins. The disputes between the dukes of Naxos and Santorini, the Turkish raids and the efforts of the local population for freedom bring a devastating effect on the island.
During this time Thera was renamed to Santorini. The island was named after the church of Santa Irini, which according to one theory was located in Perissa, and according to another, in Thirasia.
In the midle of the 15th century a violent earthquake created a smaller island, Nea Kameni.
In1579 Santorini was given to the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire. The island was already in a phase of decadence after yers of conflicts, which reduced its population and kept back its social and political evolvement.
During the period of the Turkish domination, the island was granted some privileges. In this way the inhabitants began to engage in commerse and shipping, resulting in building their own fleet.
The contribution of Santorini in the Greek revolution was important. In 1821 Santorini was the 3rd naval power in the Greek seas, after Hydra and Spetses. In1830, Santorini along with the other island of Cyclades was attached to the newly established Greek state.
In1956 a strong earthquake reminded Santorini that the island’s fate is predisposed. The catastrophes were huge. But the locals were used to fight against the elements of nature, rebuilted their homes according to the traditional architecture and brought up the special characteristics of their island which make Santorini one of the most popular travel destinations.