According to legend, Santorini rose up from the depths of the sea and this, in combination with the eruption of the volcano, has led scientists to correlate and compare it to the lost city of Atlantis. The first signs of life were evident as far back as the mid-3rd century B.C. (Early Copper Age). The first name given to the island was Strongyle (“the circular one”) due to its shape. According to Herodotus however, the island was later renamed to Kalliste (“the most beautiful one”) due to its incomparable beauty. Once the island was colonized by Spartans (following the Phoenicians) the island changed its name to Thera, named the after the Spartan leader of the time. Finally, the name Santorini, which is a contraction of the name Santa Irini, was given to the island by the Latin Empire referencing the name of the old cathedral of Saint Irene; the ruins of which were discovered in 1992 at the foot of the mountain in the village of Perissa.
The large volcanic eruptions of circa 1613B.C. (Late Copper Age), and the following collapse of the volcano’s magma chamber/reservoir, lead to the formation of the caldera (a large underwater cauldron-like depression).
The rare natural beauty, the rich history and the unique geomorphology of Santorini have contributed to it becoming one of the world’s top and most sought after destinations. It has become the subject of study for numerous influential scientists as well as an inspiration to famous poets and writers. It is worth noting that the island was even mentioned in Jules Verne’s novel “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”, as well as Santorini being his main source inspiration in writing his novel “The Mysterious Island”.