What has been both a blessing and a curse for the island of Santorini is its volcano. Even though it has been peaceful over the last decades, it is known that it has been troubling the residents with its eruptions for centuries or even millennia. But to tell the truth, without the volcano, the island would not have the current morphology, if it would even exist.
The volcano itself has been self-destroyed and reborn dozens of times over the last 400.000 years. Nevertheless it is known that around 2000 BC Santorini was a round island called “Stroggili”
The biggest explosion, which led to the creation of the caldera and the current landscape as it is today, happened in prehistoric years.
There are two main theories regarding when this explosion happened. The first places it around 2000 BC and the second one around 1500 BC.
If the second one is true, then it is highly possible that due to this explosion, a gigantic tsunami was created and this caused the destruction of the Minoan Civilization. In any case, over the last few years another theory has prevailed which places the great eruption in 1650 BC and refutes the theory that the explosion and the destruction of the Minoan Civilization are connected.
Thus, Santorini, Thirasia and Aspronisi are parts of the ancient Stroggili. Since the great explosion of 1650 BC and until the last one in 1950 AD, 8 more explosions have taken place some of which led to the creation of the Old and New Kameni in the middle of the caldera at different times. Those two small islands were created from the deposits of lava which initially created underwater cones around the crater which later emerged.
Irrespective of the different time there are many who say there is a connection between the great explosion and the legend of Defkalionas and Pyrra, while others go even further claiming the great explosion is relevant to the Plagues of Pharaoh. In any case, the most popular myth is the one which holds the volcano responsible for the destruction of Atlantis. Even Cousteau has looked for Atlantis here but the mystery was lost and its solution was hidden for ever after the explosion of the volcano. On a daily basis, tens of small boats, traditional caiques and modern glass-bottom boats depart from the old port of Fira and Ammoudi for mini cruises to the heart of the caldera.
This experience should not be missed, because you will, among other things, be given the chance to walk on the crater of an active volcano. The first stop is made in New Kameni and the second one in Old Kameni where you can swim in thermal springs. A third stop is made in Thirasia which is like a miniature of Santorini as it was some decades ago before its touristic development. The visitors have the chance to have lunch at any of the taverns of Korfos the sea-side settlement or to walk up the path which leads to the top of the caldera of Thira called Manolas, the central residence of the settlement. When those tourist boats remain at Korfos the island is full of life and as they slowly depart it looks as if it slowly goes back to sleep. The most expensive mini cruises include dinner on board while the sun sets in the waters of the Aegean Sea. That is another nomination for the “Best sunset in Santorini”