Sanorini is one of the most spectacular sights in existence. That is because a volcanic eruption occurred here that was so massive it blew a good sized chunk of the island away raining debris as far away as Egypt. The exact year of this eruption seems to be under debate by a wide range of sources. However, various people have accused this massive eruption of the parting of the (a?)Reed sea in Exodus, being the lost land of Atlantis.and for creating a tidal wave that destroyed the palaces on Crete (which helped lead to the downfall of the Minoan civilization.
What is known that the volcanic eruption blew out the majority of an apparently large island. The resulting tidal waves filled the caldaria and caused the collapse of much of what survived the initial eruption. What is left is a crescent shaped island with a steep cliff with an impressive view from the top down to the sea below. What's even more impressive is to swim out into the crater and look up at the cliff top villages of Thera and Ia. On my most recent trip to Santorini,one where I had no intention of getting off of the boat (oops), I learned that the island was a ring shaped island with a central caldaria. The eruption did indeed take out one of the walls of the island. The water which rushed in, destroyed the weaker sections which remained. The combination of the walls collapsing, and the continued eruption forced the water back out to sea, causing a massive tidal wave that swept across the region.
A common misconception is that the entire center of the island blew away. Apparently, there was already a caldaria in the center of the island. However, the explosion still sent up massive amounts of ash and rocks. As mentioned above, debris has been found as far a way as Egypt. Shockwaves were felt in Alexandria Egypt. Geologists are still discovering bits of rock that are traceable back to this eruption. What was left after the eruption is a crescent shaped island with a steep cliff with an impressive view from the top down to the sea below. What's even more impressive is to swim out into the crater and look up at the cliff top villages of Thera and Ia.
Santorini is by far the most photographed island with white washed homes and churches looking out over the crater, on the very edge of the crater on the brink of going over. Sunsets from the island are spectacular especially from Ia.
The Name Santorini comes from Saint (San) Irene from the early Christian Period. The Turks adopted this name and through years of linguistic shifts and general lazy pronunciation San Irene became Santorini. The Greek name from Antiquity was Thera. A minoan settlement has been found on the south side of the island. Ash from the eruption covered the this city, preserving it in a way similar to Pompeii. The name of this settlement is Archeothera. There is also an ancient Roman settlement on the island.
Updated 10/31/03. More photos of Santorini due December 2003.