With the succession of centuries and dominations, the island changed names several times: Stronghily (for the round shape), Kallissti (for its beauty), Thera (in honor of the hero of the Tebans, Thera), Philothera (Friends of Thera) and finally Santorini (Italian name derived from “Saint Irene of Thessaloniki” which is dedicated a church in the port of Riva Thirassia).
The most important civilization that occupied the island was without a doubt the Minoan, which reached an amazing development that made it famous like “the civilization of Atlantis”, it had a strong commercial-military fleet that was able to impose itself on the whole Aegean and part of the Mediterranean. Even today, after so many thousands of years, eruptions, earthquakes, destruction, in the ancient and traditional village of Akrotiri, at the south-west of the island, there is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world, where there are ruins and faithful reproductions that bring back in time 3600 years, when the historic eruption destroyed the island, much of the Aegean and the Mediterranean even reaching the shores of Crete and wiping out all traces of the Minoan civilization.
In the thirteenth century, Santorini became one of the possessions of the Venetians, when the Venetian Republic had hegemony over the eastern seas. In 1207 Marco Sanudo, during the Fourth Crusade, conquered and united most of the Cyclades under the name of “Duchy of Naxos”. The islands were divided among the most influential Venetian families, Santorini, that was a small archipelago with four islands (Thira, Thirassia Aspronisi and Palia Kameni) was assigned to the family of Barozzi. The island remained Italian until 1537 when the pirate Barbarossa conquered the island. In 1579 Santorini fell into the hands of the Turks.
The islanders were dedicated to navigation and created a huge commercial fleet, which became in a short time, the strongest thanks to its strategic location between the East and the West. In 1780 the maritime business was so developed that even the Monastery of Prophet Elias had its own fleet. In the same year two arsenals were built, one in Armeni, a small port of Oia, the other in Athinios, where today stands the island’s main port.
After so many dark years, the island and the Cyclades have been rediscovered with the advent of the tourism industry around the 70s.
There are a lot of things to see in Santorini, it is quite impossible to see all of them in a short of time especially for the cruise passengers. Suggested places to see for who doesn’t have a lot of time to spend on the island are the villages of Pyrgos, a Venetian settlement located in the heart of the island, famous for its quite narrow streets, no so much touristic as all the rest of the island, the ruins of the “castle” and typical churches white and blue. Oia, absolutely the most famous one of the island, counts more than 50 churches, the nautical museum, the ruins of a castle of the 15th century a.C., the windmills and of course for its famous sunset. Fira, the capital of the island, today it represents the core of the island’s life during the day and the night, amazing balconies with view in caldera, delicious restaurants and the best one for shopping. If you have plenty of time to enjoy something more, it is worth the visit of the volcano and swimming at the south of the island, Perissa and Perivolos are the most famous sandy beaches of Santorini. The red beach is really far away for the cruise passengers.