One of the most ancient civilizations of the world was developed and thrived in Cyclades, and Ancient Thira, nowadays called Santorini, was one of its cultural and commercial centers. People from all over the known world reached Thira’s shores, exchanging all kinds of goods. And Akrotiri, due to its strategic geographic location at the island’s north-west, was one of its most important settlements, where commercial life bloomed and bustled.
The first habitation of the area of Akrotiri dates from the Late Neolithic times (at least the 4th millennium B.C.). But in the last quarter of the 17th century B.C. the settlement’s life came to an abrupt end; the inhabitants were obliged to abandon it as a result of severe earthquakes and the volcano’s eruption. Akrotiri, and actually the whole of Santorini, was covered with lava. The thick volcanic ash that swallowed everything afterwards, including the area of Akrotiri, was the one that kept the settlement almost intact, for us to explore and admire today. In fact, the site is so well preserved that it is often referred to as the Pompeii of the Aegean.
A daily trip to Akrotiri is not only recommended, it’s a must! Start by visiting the archaeological excavations and see how life was like in that very spot thousands of years ago. Admire the sophisticated buildings, the magnificent wall-paintings, the elaborate drainage system and other rare findings at the archaeological museum on the site. Walk through the narrow paths of the market. Feel the aura of the glorious past surrounding you. A guided tour will help you learn more about this ancient civilization. Also, many of the findings of this excavation have been moved to the Prehistorical museum at Fira for better preservation.
After the excavation site, you can visit the village of Akrotiri, one of Santorini’s five fortified settlements. Its great castle was built around 1335 AD by the Venetians, as a shelter and refuge. The castle used to be called La Ponta, which in Latin means the peak. Enjoy the panoramic view and don’t forget to visit the Goula Tower and the Lighthouse!
Definitely go to the famous and magnificent Red beach, one of the most beautiful on Santorini and probably unique in the world, due to its color. It is within walking distance from the excavation site and the museum. But you cannot take a swim there; you can only look at the beach from afar and, of course, take lots of photographs. Due to lava rocks falling, access to the beach is forbidden by the authorities.
Akrotiri is one of those places that can reveal to the visitor a deeper meaning of the history of our civilization. Do pay a visit and enjoy the unique experience!