On the Aegean Sea lies the island of Santorini, the jewel of Greece. It is a popular romantic destination, with many tourists listing it as their honeymoon vacation. In 2017 alone, Santorini welcomed around 2 million visitors.
There are many reasons to visit this beautiful island. It features unique red sand beaches, vineyards that hold wine-tasting ceremonies, picturesque landscapes, and whitewashed cube-shaped buildings with blue accents. It is also known for its local delicacies and vibrant religious and cultural festivals.
But perhaps more fascinating is the island’s intriguing history. Greece itself is rich in cultural influences, but there are aspects unique to Santorini. If you’re planning an itinerary on Santorini’s historical landmarks, here are the places to consider.
1. Ancient Thera
The ancient city of Thera, which is nested on top of the Mesa Vouna, was first colonized by the Dorian colonists of Sparta in the 9th century BC. It was named after the Spartan ruler Theras. Today, the site houses a mixture of ruins from the Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine periods. At the ruins, you can find temples, a theater, a gymnasium, and a marketplace.
Although, getting to Ancient Thera requires an hour’s hike, which is why tourists should only attempt the trek if they are in good physical condition. The path to the top provides scenic views of the Aegean Sea.
2. Ancient Akrotiri
Located southwest of the island, Akrotiri was the site for a Minoan / Bronze Age settlement. Archaeological evidence revealed that the Minoan civilization fell because of the island’s volcanic eruption.
Akrotiri is often associated with the mythical city of Atlantis. Greek Islands explained the link between Akrotiri and Atlantis, suggesting that the Minoans were actually Atlantians. The similarities between the two civilizations are apparent: they had peaceful cultures, women with high political status, and held bullfighting in high regard as a popular sport.
Regardless of whether Atlantis actually existed or not, it sure has inspired many depictions in various forms of creative works. For instance, DC Comics has adapted the legend of Atlantis and has used the underwater kingdom, as the home of DC superhero Aquaman. In 2001, an animated film was released called Atlantis: The Lost Empire, which places the fabled city at the core of its narrative. Atlantis also appears to be a popular setting in video games. The extensive library of online games on Slingo includes the King of Atlantis slot game, an underwater-themed casual title. Clearly, the mystique surrounding the city has a lasting appeal which is now forever connected with pop culture, and its association with Akrotiri is enough for people to be fascinated with the site.
The town of Oia offers the most beautiful sunset views in Santorini since it is situated on a cliff above the Aegean Sea.
Travel writer Nena Dimitrou states that Oia was once a popular shipbuilding center, up until the 19th century. After an earthquake in 1956, the village was rebuilt as an attractive, picturesque town of the Cyclades. Oia now boasts neoclassical mansions, small churches, colorful houses, and narrow cobbled paths. So, it’s no wonder that Oia gets crowded during the summer season.
Santorini’s peak season is from July to August. This is the period when prices soar and hotels as well as beaches are packed with tourists. If you want to make the most of your visit without the hassle of large crowds, the best times to go are May and early June or late September and October, since the local scene is considerably quieter.