"Kallisti": "The Most Beautiful..."
A bit of History
With the succession of centuries and dominations, the island changed names several times: Stronghily (for the round shape), Kallissti (for its beauty), Thera (in honor of the hero of the Tebans, Thera), Philothera (Friends of Thera) and finally Santorini (Italian name derived from “Saint Irene of Thessaloniki” which is dedicated a church in the port of Riva Thirassia).
The most important civilization that occupied the island was without a doubt the Minoan, which reached an amazing development that made it famous like “the civilization of Atlantide”, it had a strong commercial-military fleet that was able to impose itself on the whole Aegean and part of the Mediterranean. Even today, after so many thousands of years, eruptions, earthquakes, destruction, in the ancient and traditional village of Akrotiri, at the south-west of the island, there is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world, where there are ruins and faithful reproductions that bring back in time 3600 years, when the historic eruption destroyed the island, much of the Aegean and the Mediterranean even reaching the shores of Crete and wiping out all traces of the Minoan civilization.
In 1153 A.D. the island was known with the name Santorini, as evidenced by the writings of the Arab geographer Idrisi. The Italian name was given by the Crusaders, who dedicated it to Saint Irene of Thessaloniki, the protector of the islands. This church still exists and is at Thirassia, in the port of Riva, but exists also another version that identifies the original church in Perissa.
In the thirteenth century, Santorini became one of the possessions of the Venetians, when the Venetian Republic had hegemony over the eastern seas. In 1207 Marco Sanudo, during the Fourth Crusade, conquered and united most of the Cyclades under the name of “Duchy of Naxos”. The islands were divided among the most influential Venetian families, Santorini, that was a small archipelago with four islands (Thira, Thirassia Aspronisi and Palia Kameni) was assigned to the family of Barozzi. The island remained Italian until 1537 when the pirate Barbarossa conquered the island. In 1579 Santorini fell into the hands of the Turks.
The islanders were dedicated to navigation and created a huge commercial fleet, which became in a short time, the strongest thanks to its strategic location between the East and the West. In 1780 the maritime business was so developed that even the Monastery of Prophet Elias had its own fleet. In the same year two arsenals were built, one in Armeni, a small port of Oia, the other in Athinios, where today stands the island’s main port.
After so many dark years, the island and the Cyclades have been rediscovered with the advent of the tourism industry around the 70s.