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The excavations and searched performed on Santorini reveal that the first human presence on the island can be dated back to the Neolithic Era. At around 3600 BC, Santorini played host to an important civilization.
Discoveries were made in the Red Beach and an important city close to Akrotiri point towards the presence of an ancient Minoan city. The city was quite similar to those located in the island of Crete, with lots of pottery and wall ornaments showing naturalistic landscapes of humans and animals of similar ancient Minoan style.
Stongili was the name for Santorini Island in the ancient times. Stongili means round in Greek. It was the victim of a massive volcano that erupted in 1500 BC. The eruption was actually so big that may people consider it as one of the leading causes of the destruction of the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete, which is located 70 nautical miles away.
It is believed that the explosion was so great that it caused the formation of massive waves that reached the shores of Crete and other surrounding islands. The center of Santorini sank after the explosion and the numerous earthquakes that followed led to the destruction of the remainder of the island. Numerous research studies have been undertaken and presented about the Santorini volcano including several documentaries in the National Geographic.
According to some ancient myths, the destruction of Santorini is closely associated to the legend of Atlantis. It is believed that Phoenicians settled on the island known back then as Thera about 1300 BC and remained there for 5 generations. The Lacedaemonian then occupied the island about 11 BC. The inhabitants of the island were using the Phoenician alphabet around 825 BC.
Thera had trade and commercial relations with most Greek cities and islands in the 7th Century BC and 6th Century BC. Thera became a key trade center and naval base because of its strategically ideal location during the Hellenistic Period due to its central position in the Aegean.
Santorini was under Byzantine rule from 1200 AC to 1579 AC and the church of Episkopi Gonia was established during this period. The island was surrendered to Marco Sanudo in 1204 AC and it became part of the Duke of the Aegean. The island got its name from the Venetians who named it Santa Irini, which is the name of a Catholic church.
In this period, there was a strong battle between pirates and Venetians. During the Turkish rule that lasted from 1579 to 1821 the island succeeded in establishing trade links with the Eastern Mediterranean ports. The period that followed was quite prosperous for the island.
The economy of Santorini deteriorated because of the 20th Century and in 1956 the island’s inhabitants abandoned it after the catastrophic earthquake. In the 1970’s tourism development started and it is currently one of the top tourist destinations in the world.
Over the years, the island has earned a reputation for being a top honeymoon and wedding destination while many international conferences and meetings take place in the summer.