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Ancient Thira and Akrotiri

Ancient Thira - ruins on Santorini

Thira is an amazing archaeological site, dating from 8th century BC

Ancient Thira/Thera

Ancient ThiraArchaeological site

The post-eruption settlement of Ancient Thira (also known asThera) is near Perissa, located on the rocky headland of Mesa Vouna between the beaches of Kamari and Perissa. The ancient site is named after the mythical ruler of the island, Theras. Ancient Thira was believed to be the only urban settlement on Santorini up to the 5th century.

The site has stunning views over Kamari and Perissa and is impressively large, containing : Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine ruins. The site has a mixture of buildings from different periods and consist of one main street, intersected by smaller streets.

The ancient city consisted of temples, houses, an agora ( the city's gathering place), a theatre( with seating for about 1,500), Roman baths, Byzantine walls and a gymnasium.

There are the remains of : the Sanctuary of Artemidoros (includes engravings of Artemidoros and the symbols of various gods: a lion for Apollo, an eagle for Zeus, a dolphin for Poseidon) ; the Royal Basilike Stoa (a covered walkway); the temple of Dionysus; the Sanctuary of Appolo Karneios, the church of Agios Stefanos and the Ancient Thira cemeteries.

Several marble statues of youths, known as kouroi, including the Apollo of Thera, were discovered in the burial grounds below the ancient city and are believed to date from the 7th century BC. The marble is thought to have come from the island of Naxos, as there were no marble quarries on Santorini.

German archaeologists excavated the residential area and part of the cemeteries between 1895 and 1902. The other cemeteries were excavated by N. Zapheiropoulos between 1961-1982.

Finds from the excavations are kept at the Archaeological Museum in Fira. Open 8.30 - 15.00 (Mon closed)
Tel : +30 22860 22217

Mural at Ancient Thira

Leave at least 90 min to tour the site as there is lots to see! It is a rocky 45 minute walk from from Perissa, or if driving take the road from Kamari - the site is 3km south

Open Tuesday-Sunday 8.00am to 2.30pm - 1 April until 31 October €2

More info: Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Tip: Go as early as you can as it can be very hot with little shade on the site. Take plenty of water and sun protection and wear comfortable shoes as it can be quite a trek. On certain days it can be quite windy. There are no toilets.

Ancient Akrotiri

Fresco in Ancient Akrotiri - Boxing youthsMinoan city

Ancient Akrotiri is a Minoan outpost at the southwestern tip of Santorini. It is the most important archaeological discovery in the Eastern Mediterranean, being the largest Minoan city outside of Crete. The site was first discovered in 1866 after a volcanic eruption.

Excavations in the 60's unearthed an ancient city that had been covered with lava after the volcanic eruption, as with Pompeii. There were no human remains excavated which means the Akrotiri inhabitants are likely to have been evacuated after several earthquakes and before the volcanic eruption. Various artifacts, pottery, and beautiful wall paintings were discovered. The most famous frescoes have been taken to Athens.

Ancient Akrotiri has streets, public and private buildings and squares. There are some 2 and 3 storey high buildings unearthed in the ancient city and there are many well preserved wall paintings on the the interiors of the buildings. Visitors are able to walk through the excavation site on an elevated boardwalk and view the various ruins and buildings. Only 3% of the ancient city has been excavated - the archaeological work continues in unearthing the history of Akrotiri.

The wonderful artefacts excavated at Akrotiri are kept in the Museum of Prehistoric Thera at Fira.
Open 8.30 - 15.00 (Mon closed) Tel : +30 22860 23217

To reach the ancient archaeological site take a bus from Fira or Perissa

Ancient Akrotiri has recently re-opened after being closed for several years due to the construction of a new protective roof.

Open 8.00am to 5pm Tuesday to Sunday - 1 April until 31 October €5

More info: Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Tip: Take a guided tour or bring a guide of the site as there is a lot to see and not many information boards. A visit to the museum before your tour of the ancient city can be helpful. You are able to take in water with you and the new roof protects you from the hot sun.


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