Santorini Sightseeing Attractions

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Santorini Sightseeing Attractions
Greece Santorini (Thira) Island Santorini Sightseeing Archaeological Sites and Historical Information Santorini, Greece – Santorini Museums & Attractions

Santorini Sightseeing - (Thira) Archaeological Sites, Attractions, Museums and Churches in Santorini

Sightseeing on Santorini Island is an unforgettable experience. Santorini has a long history and many civilizations and cultures have left their mark on the island, leaving the island with a rich heritage and several very significant archaeological, historical and religious sites.

The Archaeological Site of Akrotiri, located in southern Santorini, is considered one of the most significant ancient sites in Greece. It was discovered in 1866, but its further excavation and study was undertaken by Dr. Spyridon Marinatos in 1967. He continued his work until his death in 1974, due to an accident on the Akrotiri Site, where he was also buried.

Based on archaeological findings, Akrotiri was inhabited from the Post Neolithic Era (4th millennium BC). The settlement grew larger in the Early Bronze Age (3rd millennium BC) and by the Mid and Post Bronze Age (20th – 17th century BC) it had developed into an important city and port of the Aegean Sea region.

The city of Akrotiri was closely associated with the Minoan civilization in Crete, a fact that is apparent in the architecture and wall paintings of the settlement. On the 200 acre site, there are three-storey buildings, remains of a very sophisticated drainage system, a mill, storage rooms, staircases and pithi (ceramic storage jars). The houses were decorated with beautiful frescos, many of which are on display in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. The entire site has been preserved by the lava and volcanic ash that spewed from the volcano in 1550 – 1500 BC.

According to Dr. Marinatos’ theory published in the 1930’s, Akrotiri is quite possibly connected with the legend of the Lost Continent of Atlantis. As he explained, the disappearance of Atlantis may be related to the eruption of the volcano and the fall of the Minoan civilization in Crete.

What actually happened to the inhabitants of Akrotiri is a mystery. We know that they left the settlement, because no sign of life was found on the site. Possibly they had enough warning to leave the city in time before the volcano erupted, but it is not clear whether they escaped or if they were drowned by the tidal waves that were a result of the tremendous eruption of Santorini’s volcano.

Excavations are ongoing, while the only additions that have been made to the site are wooden beams and cement to support the structures. At present, a bioclimatic shelter is being constructed to protect this jewel of Ancient Greece.

The site of Ancient Thira is located on the southeastern side of Santorini, on the headland of Mesa Vouno, between the settlements of Kamari and Perissa, at an altitude of 396 meters. It was built on this particular spot for observation and protection of the city. Today, visitors are astounded by both the city and the wonderful view.

It was first inhabited by the Dorians in the 9th century BC and remained an important city until the Early Byzantine Era. Ancient Thira was originally excavated in 1895 by German archaeologist Hiller Von Gaertringen, uncovering remains from the Hellenistic and Roman Periods. Several monuments were constructed by the Ptolemies to honor the gods in the 3rd and 4th century BC.

On the Ancient Thira site are the following monuments:

The Temple of Artemidoros, including reliefs that depict the gods in the form of animals: an eagle for Zeus, a lion for Apollo and a dolphin for Poseidon.
The Agora, located in the heart of the city. It was the administrative and commercial center of Ancient Thira.
The Royal Stoa, where visitors can see Doric-style columns that used to support the roof and plaques with various inscriptions.
The Temple of Dionysus, a Dorian-style structure, dedicated to the Olympian god Dionysus.
The Area of the Sanctuaries, where the remains of small sanctuaries, dedicated to the likes of Apollo, Hermes, Hercules and Ptolemy III, once stood. The area also includes a square where festivals were held, as well as numerous inscriptions.
The remains of the graveyard of Ancient Thira, dating from the Geometric to the Roman Era.
The Ancient Theater, built by the Ptolemies.

The 17th century Gizi Manor houses the Cultural Center of Santorini and contains a collection of manuscripts dating from the 16th to the 19th century, as well as engravings, traditional clothing, maps, photographic archives and paintings.

The Orthodox Metropolitan Church in Fira was built in 1827 and was later re-built after its total destruction due to the earthquake in 1956.

The Catholic Cathedral, in Fira Town, famous for its impressive bell-clock tower, is a lovely baroque-style church built in 1823 and re-built after the earthquake of 1956. It is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist.

The Archaeological Museum, located in Fira Town, is home to a wide selection of artefacts dating back to 7th century BC. Its exhibits include amphorae, idols, figurines, earthenware, kouroi, inscriptions and other ceramic and clay objects as well as volcanic rocks.

The Prehistoric Museum is located in Fira and has an extensive collection of ancient relics from digs in Akrotiri and Ancient Thira, including ceramic objects, marble idols, grave vessels, bronzes, furniture, household objects, weapons, plant fossils, jewelry and a beautiful golden idol of a wild goat.

The Folklore Museum in Fira is housed in a traditional Santorinian “cave” house and contains a collection of objects of everyday life of Santorini, including a workshop, a winery and a house as well as a art gallery, historical archives and the Chapel of Agios Konstantinos.

The Maritime Museum is housed in a beautiful manor in the settlement of Oia (Ia). It has many impressive displays of model ships, nautical instruments, figureheads, watercolor artwork, old shipping agreements, a submarine periscope, a small library, etc.

Accommodation : Rest of Santorini
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Accommodation : Rest of Cyclades Islands
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Many thanks to photographer Sophia Glabedaki (tel: + 30 210 4629592) and to Issaias Bros Ltd (+30 210 9581706)
for granting us the use of several photos presented in the section.