The second most important historic period in the history of Santorini is connected with Ancient Thera, which represents a great ancient civilization. Ancient Thera is located on the top of Mesa Vouno Mountain which lies on the east of Prophet Elias Mountain and separates the coastal villages of Perissa and Kamari. It is about 365 meters high and so it constitutes an excellent observation spot on the southeastern Aegean Sea and its steep slopes offer natural fortification. This strategic position was the ideal place for the Lacedaemonian colonists to build their town. They arrived in the 8th century BC along with their king Theras and named the island Thera in his honor. At this spot there were also several building materials and the only natural springs on the island. This fortified location was later appreciated by the Ptolemaic dynasty and in the 4th century BC it was the naval and military base of Egypt.

The excavations in Mesa Vouno Mountain, which started in 1896 by a German baron and continued in 1961 by Greek archaeologists, revealed a settlement of the Hellenistic Period. There was a main paved road, many smaller paths and a drainage system. The public buildings were made of limestone, whereas the private ones of small, unsymmetrical stones. Two cemeteries, a theatre, markets, pagan temples, Christian churches, baths and more public buildings have also been discovered and indicate a sophisticated society where religion played an important role. Thera was the religious and commercial center of the island.

Art wasn’t vastly cultivated since the Spartans were conservative people that didn’t encourage the development of arts and education. However, the archaeological excavations have revealed remarkable artifacts of ceramics and plastic arts. Despite being an abstinent and conservative society, it was affected by the cultural developments and had commercial ties with the rest of the Cycladic islands, islands of the northern Aegean, Crete, Cyprus, mainland Greece, Corinth and even North Africa. In addition, Thera was one of the first places to adopt the Phoenician alphabet as the basis of Greek writing. A long period of drought led the people of Thera to create their unique colony in Africa in 630 BC, the Ancient City of Cyrene, which was a brilliant civilization that shined in arts and education

Through centuries the ancient city of Thera went through glorious and turbulent times as well; it was inhabited and conquered by various civilizations. Its decline began at the end of the 3rd century AD, when the residents gradually started dwelling on the coasts of the island as they offered a more convenient everyday life.

Today, visitors can feel this bygone glory by exploring a large part of Ancient Thera that has been excavated. A tour at the archaeological site on the top of Mesa Vouno Mountain also provides magnificent views on the sparkling Aegean Sea. In addition, a great collection of statues, clay figurines, pots, vases and other objects and artifacts can be found in the Archaeological Museum of Fira, which is well worth a visit for the unique finds it exhibits. Finally, one kouros (ancient Greek statue of a young man) known as Apollo of Thera, which dates back to the 6th century BC, is at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. Two more of them, from the 7th century BC, can be admired in the Archaeological Museum of Fira, too.

Location & area

Location of Ancient Thera

Area map & nearby

Ancient Thera is located in Kamari village
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