Hear the word Santorini, and what do you think? Blues, white buildings, great food – and a volcano? Indeed! Santorini is one of the most famous islands in Greece, and is the largest chunk of a former island that the volcano blew up into smaller islands, forming a caldera. The volcanic eruption was one of the largest in history, 3,600 years ago. Some say that this eruption is the source of the myth of Atlantis. There have been other eruptions from this volcano since then, but not as large. Another fun fact – there are only two places in Europe that have a hot desert climate – Santorini and Anafi!
Santorini has a long history with a variety of cultures – Greek, Minoan, Roman, the Byzantine Empire, the Crusaders, who gave the island the name we know today (Santorini for Saint Irene), and the Ottoman Empire. The island was reunited with Greece in 1830.
- While there are many things to see and do in Santorini (beaches, food, scenery), one must-see is the town of Akrotiri, a Minoan town preserved in volcanic ash, similar to Pompeii. You can see the excavation site, and the well-preserved ruins. Standing there, you can imagine what it was like to live there in Ancient Greece. Then head to the town of Fira, to the Museum of Prehistoric Thira and the Archaeological Museum. Here, you can see artifacts recovered from excavations, and learn their meanings and purpose. Watch this video of Ancient Akrotiri and then check out these photos. Have you ever wanted to be an archaeologist? What would you enjoy most – the discovery of history, or the discovery of daily life (although they are the same, aren’t they?)?
- Watch this video about Santorini and then peruse this article by a traveler. If you went to Santorini, what would you be most interested in exploring?
- Can you imagine that food grown on a volcanic island with very little fresh water sources would be good? Indeed! Take a look at the foods that grow on Santorini. Discuss the particular challenges of farming on an island of volcanic rock.