Villa Arusha SantoriniA view of the caldera from Oia, Santorini
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World renowned as the "black pearl of the Aegean", Santorini is one of the most amazing islands of the Mediterranean sea, with its breathtaking landscapes and the enchanting view of the caldera. It is situated in the middle of the Aegean sea, in the Cyclades cluster and it has a surface of 96 km2.

On the western side, a steep coastline faces the caldera deep blue sea that surrounds the volcano. Its sheer cliffs, dotted by dazzling white houses with light blue windows and tiny round roofed churches, range from 150 to 350 m over the sea.

On the eastern side, the sight is completely different: the rocks gradually slope down to the sea. There are plenty beautiful beaches, either sandy like in Monolithos or pebbly like in Kamari.

One of the most magnificent spectacle you can watch in the island is the sunset over the caldera from the small typical village of Oia. It's really an experience you will never forget for the rest of your life!

In the course of time, the island has been named in many different ways: Stronghyle is the name that Herodotus refers to, due to its formerly round shape; Kalliste, that means "the most beautiful"; Thera, that now is the name of the present main town. The French geologyst F. Fouqué called it "the Pompei of the Aegean", referring to the huge volcanic expolsion that took place in the XVI century B.C.

Actually Santorini is regarded as one of the most likely candidate for the mythical Atlantis, but the dating of the eruption is still uncertain, possibly between 1650 and 1500 B.C.
There are actually no written reports, but it seems that a big earthquake caused the awakening of the then dormant volcano. At that time the island was called Stronghyle owing to its round shape, with the volcanic cone at the centre reaching an elevation of about 1000 m over the sea and a diameter of about 15 km. Since no skeletons and jewelry have been found in the ruins of Akrotiri, the main archeological site of the island, it's widely believed that its inhabitants had enough time to run away carrying their goods with them. It's a general opinion that the eruption took place about one year later the main earthquake, because in the meanwhile, before the eruption, the seeds had the time to sprout in the ruins of the houses. The whole island was then buried under a 30 meters layer of pumice stone and basalt. The central part of Stronghyle collapsed together with the volcanic cone, and about 83 km2 of the island gave way into the caldera, an abyss 800 m deep soon covered by the sea.
In the thirties of last century, the Greek archeologyst Spyridoon Marinatos, after having found pumice stones in Crete, that is about 70 nautical miles away from Santorini, inferred that the dramatic end of  the Minoan civilization was caused by the eruption of the volcano in Santorini with its catastrophic effects and the huge waves of tsunami.

From then till 1950, in almost 3500 years, there happened 14 further volcanic eruptions: in 197 B.C the island of Palea Kameni came out; in 1573 Nea Kameni, the today's volcano, sprang out from the sea.

But how is Santorini linked with the Atlantis myth?
Plato mentions Atlantis civilization in two of his Dialogues: Timaeus (21E-25D) and Critias (108E-121C). He refers to the lost continent as a very advanced and mighty one that had ruled most of the lands overlooking the Mediterranean sea, from Lybia to Egypt.
Founded by Poseidon, the god of sea, it  started to decline and the gods of the Olympus decided to destroy it.
So Plato tells that there was a strong earthquake and flooding and the island collapsed in the deep blue sea.
It's quite clear that the stories are strinkingly alike. Is really Santorini the ancient Atlantis? Who knows. But with its beauties it deserves for sure the fascination of the myth.

After the eruption, Herodotus tells us that the Phoenician settled there and gave it the name of Kalliste, the most beautiful island.
Then Santorini was inhabited by Boeotians and then Dorians with their leader Theras. Since then the island was named Thera in his honour.

It's only in 1153 A.C., in the writings of the Arab geographer Edrisi, that the island was called for the first time Santorini: the crusader drew inspiration by the name of a small church, Haghia Irini -Saint Irini-, located in the island.

From then on many dominations followed one another: from the crusaders, to the Venetians, the Franks, the Turks. Now the island combines the relaxing athmosphere of the traditional Greek villages with the cosmopolitan character of one of the most touristic place in the Cyclades.








































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