Have you ever been on holiday to the Greek islands before? There’s a good chance you may have come across Santorini before. But what is it about this island that pulls so many people back to visit time and again? Some say it’s the sun, sea, and sand. However, others flock here to take a good look at the amazing history and heritage that’s clear to see all around. Take a look below for 30 amazing and interesting facts about Santorini.
1. Santorini used to be known as Strongoli. It’s thought this name dates back to Neolithic times.
2. In fact, the island’s name changed again multiple times over the years, with Thera and Kalliste having been previous identities of Santorini in centuries past.
3. The current name of the island literally translates to ‘Saint Irene’. Many believe that this name stems from a local church, identifying the island’s religious roots.
4. Santorini is one of many different islands near Greece which make up the Cyclades. These and a number more than 200!
5. Other islands in the Cyclades group include famous tourist hotspots such as Mykonos, Delos, Sifnos and others.
6. Santorini is famous for an ancient volcanic eruption. Specifically, many believe that the eruption during the Minoan era helped to kickstart the legend of the lost continent of Atlantis.
7. Atlantis was, of course, a legendary civilization believed to be home to demi-gods. However, you can actually trace back the origins of Atlantis to the works of Plato.
8. There are actually very few people who live on the island of Santorini. It’s said to be home to around 15,000 people.
9. That said, it’s a hive of tourism, with more than two million more people flocking to the island to explore its legendary landscapes.
10. Santorini is well-known for its grape production! If you thought that the only two types of grape grown were red and white, you’d be mistaken. There are more than 100 different grape species grown here.
11. Wine-making in Santorini is curious in itself, and that’s not just because of the huge variety of fruit on offer. It’s thanks to the fact that local winemakers use the humidity in the air to help irrigate the process.
12. Santorini is an immensely religious island, specifically regarding Christianity. This is to such an extent that many believe there to be more churches than private properties here.
13. Many of Santorini’s churches are very small – which is likely to tip the above balance by more than a little!
14. There’s also thought to be an overwhelming abundance of donkeys on the island! There are thought to be more of these cute critters than there are people.
15. The immense volcanic eruption which occurred here centuries ago became known as the ‘Strongoli Eruption’. It’s thought to have made its devastating impact here as far back as 1,500 years BC!
16. There’s a deep crater in Santorini called the ‘Caldera’. The Caldera is said to have been the resultant damage from the ancient volcanic eruption which nearly destroyed civilization here. Caldera is said to be more than 1,300 feet deep.
17. The volcano which caused such destruction all those centuries ago is actually still an active part of the island. Believe it or not, it last erupted back in 1956.
18. Santorini is well-known for its striking streets and architecture. Much of the styling here is Venetian thanks to the emergence of the empire here over the years. You’ll normally find whitewashed buildings here, too. This is fairly common across the Mediterranean.
19. What does Coronation Street and Santorini have in common? Cobbled streets! They are iconic to the island, even if you’re used to seeing them outside the Rovers Return.
20. Many famous people travel here. In fact, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie once lived here for part of the year.
21. Santorini is referred to as an island, but it is technically volcanic rock.
22. Santorini barely witnesses rainfall, which makes things extremely humid. In fact, some believe that it’s more common you’ll find wine to drink than water.
23. The island is unique in that it’s one of very few locations where civilization is actively built onto a volcanic rock or soil.
24. The way that buildings and homes across Santorini are painted holds plenty of significance. This is because blues and whites are the colors of the Greek flag!
25. Not only that, but it’s thought that people paint their homes here to show purity in white, and in inspiration of the sea (in blue).
26. One of the biggest exports for the island, believe it or not – is pumice stone! Therefore, next time you’re pumicing or exfoliating, you may well have Santorini to thank.
27. You’ll likely find that the island has plenty of ancient castles and strongholds. It’s thought that the Venetian people put these in place to help fortify the island against pirate attacks.
28. You’ll also find that, again, thanks to Venetian influence, the island is largely Catholic. This is rare in the Greek side of the Mediterranean, as other communities such as Cyprus tend to be Greek Orthodox.
29. Believe it or not, electricity has only existed on the island for 60 years. Before that time, Santorini was largely a fishing community. Once again, it was overrun with donkeys, too!
30. The Venetians weren’t the only people to take hold of Santorini. In fact, you’ll find that the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires had control here, too.