3. Explore the “Real” Atlantis
Some of Greece’s most fascinating classical ruins are found in Santorini. The island has seen the passage of many civilizations, from the Minoans to the Byzantine Empire. Ancient Thera on Mount Messavouno was first settled by colonists from Sparta in the 9th century BCE. The city remained important during the Roman Empire and continued in use until 725 CE when it was abandoned following a volcanic eruption.
However, the most interesting archaeological site in Santorini is the Bronze Age city of Akrotiri. This was a Minoan port city buried under volcanic ash in the 17th century BCE. This well-preserved settlement is reminiscent of Pompeii but over 1,500 years older! The excavated remains are protected by a bio-climatic roof and visitors walk over the site on suspended walkways to explore the 2 and 3-story buildings.
The earliest settlement on the site dates back to the Late Neolithic (the last period of the Stone Age) circa 4000 BCE. Around 2000 BCE, the settlement became a significant urban centre covering 20 hectares. Despite its great antiquity, the city features a complex drainage system, multi-story structures, water cleaned toilets, and hot and cold running water (the water heated using geothermal heat). The artefacts uncovered around the city prove a wide area of influence including Syria, Egypt, Cyprus, and mainland Greece.
The city was abandoned following earthquakes and a massive volcanic eruption. However, what’s truly interesting about this city is the impact that its destruction may have had on other nations. The level of culture found at this site is far superior to contemporary settlements elsewhere in Greece, but the society collapsed, and the city disappears virtually overnight. This would have led to stories amongst Ancient Greeks about an advanced civilization that disappeared. Many believe that Akrotiri is the city that inspired Plato’s story of Atlantic.