Akrotiri Archaeological Site
Known as the “Pompeii of the Aegean”, Akrotiri was among the most important settlements and ports in the Eastern Mediterranean during the prehistoric period. Excavations have revealed that the impressive and well-planned city that flourished here in the 17th century BC, before it was destroyed by a volcanic eruption, was home to an advanced society with a high level of culture.
Palia & Nea Kameni
The two islets in the centre of Santorini’s caldera are actually the peaks of the underwater volcano. A walk around the crater of Nea Kameni and a swim in the warm sulphurous waters of Palia Kameni are unique experiences.
The island’s loveliest town is a true architectural gem. Its marble-paved streets and elegant captains’ houses made of red and ochre limestone are a reflection of its maritime glory in the 19th century and the wealth of its inhabitants. The most recognisable image of Oia is its Venetian castle at sunset, while the walk along the main pedestrian street overlooking the caldera is unforgettable.
Built in the foothills of Mount Profitis Ilias, the island’s highest peak, the medieval village of Pyrgos is an enchanting place. The settlement is situated in and around a striking 18th-century castle and is a charming maze of narrow whitewashed streets, innumerable churches (the oldest is the 10th century Theotokaki, inside the castle walls), neoclassical buildings and wineries. The village is surrounded by vineyards and since 1995 has been a “protected monument”.
The Museum of Prehistoric Thera
This superb museum in Fira contains major finds from the excavations at Akrotiri, as well as extraordinary treasures from other parts of prehistoric Santorini.
Oia Maritime Museum
Santorini’s great naval history is vividly brought to life in a two-storey neoclassical mansion in Oia. Visitors to the museum can learn about seafaring in the 19th century, when the island’s sailing vessels dominated maritime trade from Egypt to the Black Sea.
From the 13th to the mid-18th century, the island’s capital was this imposing fortified town of 200 stone houses, churches and quaint cobbled streets, which was connected to Imerovigli by a wooden drawbridge. Today, its ruins are accessible by a path of 300 steps that starts at the church of Saint George in Imerovigli. It is worth the effort for the best view of the caldera in all Santorini and for the brilliant white church of the Virgin Mary Theoskepasti perched on its western slope.
The Santorini that is revealed in the island’s mountainous interior is markedly different from the familiar picture-postcard views, but with villages boasting a long history and a distinctive architectural identity, it is just as attractive. Visit Megalochori, with its grand houses and great winemaking tradition; picturesque Emborio, with its amazing castle; Messaria, the heart of industrial Santorini in the 19th century, with its gorgeous mansions; Karterados, the most well-known captains’ village; and atmospheric Finikia, with its colourfully painted cave dwellings and old wineries.
The Tomato Industrial Museum
The old cannery in Vlychada, which was active from 1945 to 1981, is now a modern museum complex that offers a rare journey into the industrial heritage of the island and the cultivation and processing of the renowned Santorini tomato.
The Church of Episkopi Thiras in Mesa Gonia
The island’s most important Byzantine monument was built in the 11th century by the emperor Alexios Komnenos and is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.