No trip to Santorini is complete without a visit to the archeological site of Ancient Thera. It is on Mesa Vouno, 396 meters above sea level, and is a fascinating place.
Archaeologist Maya Efstathiou writes that the most important monuments of the site are the early Christian basilica of Agios Stefanos; the Temenos of Artemidoros; the Stoa at the agora; the theatre; the sanctuary of Apollo Karneios; the gymnasium of the Ephebes; and the sanctuary of the Egyptian gods.
The site was inhabited from the ninth century BC until 726 AD, during the Hellenistic and Roman eras of Santorini. German archeologist and philologist Friedrich Hiller von Gaertringen began excavating the site in 1895. N. Zapheiropoulos continued his work between 1961 and 1982.
While the site is not as famous as the Akrotiri Minoan Bronze Age settlement, it is still worth seeing, and here are some of the top reasons why you should visit it.
The hike from Kamari to the archaeological site is scenic, with lovely countryside views and plenty of flora and fauna to observe. However, it’s a challenging walk, so if you are not into hiking, rent an ATV or take the bus, which will drop you at the entrance. There will still be a hike from the entrance to the top – like the one at the Acropolis in Athens. Wear proper footwear.
The views of the sea from here are astonishing. This could be a pretty spot to admire the sunset, but the uneven terrain is not easily explored in the dark. Nevertheless, the endless blue dancing at the horizon in daytime is enough to fascinate and inspire aww moments.
The history of Ancient Thera is rich and representative for this part of the world. Although most of the time the city was an unimportant settlement, in the third century BC it hosted the Ptolemaic wartime fleet for the entire Aegean Sea.
The city was abandoned after the Santorini volcano eruption of 726.
It is a sacred destination, first inhabited by the Dorians, whose leader was Theras – hence the name of the site. With a little bit of imagination, you can picture the ancient inhabitants of the place honoring their gods here.
The archeological site of Ancient Thera today is a scenic place, open to the public, with general admission at 4 € for adults and 2 € for little history buffs, and free access on special occasions like:
- 6 March (in memory of Melina Mercouri)
- 18 April (International Monuments Day)
- 18 May (International Museums Day)
- The last weekend of September annually (European Heritage Days)
- National Holidays
- 28 October
- Every first Sunday from November 1st to March 31st
Free admission is also offered to all young people under the age of 18 with an identity card or passport, students, teachers accompanying a group of students, official guests of the Greek State, and members of some research societies as well as the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports and the Archaeological Receipts Fund.
Visitors who prefer a guided tour of the site can ask the Guest Experience team of Santo Maris Oia Luxury Suites & Spa for help to find the proper providers. Just tell us what you wish to experience and we will make it happen.