Santorini lies in the southern part of the Cyclades islands complex. Its distance from the island of Ios is 10 nautical miles south. The port of Santorini is at a 130 nautical miles distance from the port of Pireaus. The official name of the island is Thira (pronounced Thera), Thira was also the ancient name of the island, but the island is mostly known as Santorini.
It covers an area of 76 square km and 13.960 people live there. The island is shaped as a half moon, it has a length of 18 km and a maximum width of 12 km. The island is in fact a residue of an old volcano which sank at sea. The island is a part of a complex of 4 smaller islands Thirasia, Old and Nea Kameni and Aspronisi. The smaller islands were all formed by lava. The highest peak of the island is at 566 meters (1856 feet).
It should be noted that due to the volcanic origin of the soil there are some exceptionally good products that are produced in the island, such as tomatoes, wine and fava. The coastline of the island has a length of 79 km (49 miles).
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The most important source about the history of the island comes from the excavations in the area of Akrotiri. The island was inhabited since the 5th millennium BC. During the middle Cycladic period the population had formed commercial relations with Minoan Crete and mainland Greece. A very powerful volcanic eruption around the middle of the second millennium deserted the island which was inhabited 3 centuries later during the Mycenaean times. During historic times Thira was a colony of Lakediamonia which founded the city of Thira and the whole island was named thereafter. In the middle of the 7th BC century Dorians prevailed. In the 5th century BC there were six other settlements recorded by Herodotus among them were Oia and Perissa. Thira did not take part in the Persian wars and it was one of the islands that agreed to the Persian dominance. During the Peloponnesian was Thira took the part of Sparta but during 425 it seems to be a part of the 1st Athenian alliance. During Byzantine times the inhabitants of the island were among the first to become Christians (325 AD.) After the conquest of Constantinople by Francs (1204 AD), the Venetian ruler of Naxos gave the island to Jakomo Barotsi. The descendants of J. Barotsi ruled the island until 1336AD and then the island became a part of the duchy of Naxos. In 1579 the island was conquered by the Ottomans. In 1487 the island dominance passed over to the Venetians but in 1537 Santorini was ravaged by pirate Barbarossa and in 1566 the Ottomans dominated the island again. The island took part in the 1821 revolution providing supplies and warships. The island became a part of the newly formed Greek state at 1830. It should be noted that the earthquake of 1956 lead to the abandonment of the island by many of its inhabitants.