Ancient Thera – Santorini, Greece

If you’ve ever looked into traveling in Greece, chances are that you have heard about Ancient Thera Santorini. 

Santorini is an island on the Aegean Sea, a little distance from the mainland, with a world of its own. You can find many things to do there from boat tours to wine tasting. 

But how did it come to be and what is Ancient Thera? This article will solve all your queries and give you a list of things to do when you get there! 

a building at ancient thera
An ancient building at Thera

Why is Santorini called Thera?

Let’s answer the obvious questions first. Is Thera even a real place? And if so, what is the difference between Santorini and Thera?

Despite people’s confusion, Thera is indeed very real, but the difference between the two is not that simple since the island has a vast and complicated history. 

First, it was called Strogili or Strongýlē which means the round one since the shape resembled a circle pre-explosion. 

During that time, it was also called Kalliste meaning the most beautiful one. Then, under the occupation of Minoans, they renamed the island Thera after their king Theras.

Sometime in the 15th century BC during the Bronze Age, a volcano erupted dividing the Thera island into three. The largest of these was termed Santorini after Santa Irini which is a reference to Saint Irene. 

This eruption called the Minoan eruption, based on the findings of historians, is said to be “one of the most disruptive eruptions in human history”. 

In the nineteenth century, the name Thera was brought back but by then everyone had come to know it as Santorini and so the disparity between the names of this island continues. However, the more popular and colloquial name is Santorini. 

Where is Thera in Ancient Greece?

Now that you are caught up on the history, where would you find Ancient Thera Santorini in Greece today? 

Thera (or Thira) is now a municipality that includes the island of Santorini subdivided into many towns and villages. The popular ones include Akrotiri, Fira, Oia, and others. 

A road from the central city of Kamari or Parissa leads up to Thera. It is located on top of Mesa Vouno Mountain and overlooks the Aegean Sea. 

Since it was occupied by religious groups, many churches line the way to the ancient city of Thera. The art of this place is preserved in its archaeological site which we’ll get to below. 

What Will I Do At Ancient Thera?

First and foremost, the height of Ancient Thera provides a beautiful vantage point to take in the aesthetics of the Aegean Sea. 

More importantly, you can visit the ancient Thera archaeological site where you will get to see visuals of the history; the art, and the culture of those who occupied it long before we discovered it. 

One thing to remember while planning your trip is that the site is closed on Tuesdays. That is the only day you will not be able to access it. The ancient Thera opening hours are from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm. 

To set foot in the place, you will need to purchase a ticket, which is only €6.

For this small price you can wander around the entire site. And for €15, you get a three-day ticket to travel to three sites; the archaeological site of Thera, the archaeological site of Akrotiri, and the Museum of Prehistoric Thera

Another thing to see is the ancient theatre which was used to host events in the Roman era. 

There are many other choices you can make once you get to Ancient Thera. You can visit beaches, go to bars, roam around in the markets, and get the full tourist experience of the place! 

How Do I Get To Ancient Thera?

The good thing is that it’s open throughout the year so you don’t have to pick a specific month to go! 

The two main ways to get there from the main cities are to either take a bus or hike to the top. 

Go Hiking: 

You can start the hike from Perissa or Kamari. 

If you go from Perissa, it takes an average of 1 hour to reach Ancient Thera through the paths of Mesa Vouno Mountain. The trail is about 2km long. 

People describe it to be moderately difficult, windy, and at the end of it, worth it. 

There’s also the option to hike from Kamari which also takes about 1 hour since it’s about the same length. On the way, you will come across a cemetery that has centuries old graves.

You can also take a detour to the church of Zoodochos Pigi, a traditional Greek building near a beautiful natural-water spring. This might increase the time of your hike by another hour as 2km more are added to your journey. 

Once you reach the top, you can stay there, look around the ancient city of thera, then come down to either Kamari or Perissa. 

the long and winding road up to ancient thera
The long and winding road up to Ancient Thera

Take a Vehicle: 

There is no public transportation available from Kamari or Perissa to the ancient city of Thera. However, you can contact different trip advisors, although the charges for each may vary. 

It should cost around €10-€15 for a round-trip in a minibus. 

You can also rent a car or hire one for the day which again will vary in cost. 

Why Should I Visit Ancient Thera Santorini?

If you are a history fan then you would definitely benefit from visiting a place that is rich with its history. 

As described above, you will be fascinated by the ancient Thera ruins, the art, and the relics of the past. 

You can also give this place a shot if you are someone who enjoys a good hike and wants a destination that’s worth it. Because the view of the Aegean Sea from the top will surely satisfy your desires!