Where does the name “Santorini” come from ?

Santorini overtourism

Santorini, the island renowned for its sublime natural beauty, is also known by many names that have been characterizing it throughout the years.

According to the prominent Greek historian Herodotus, in prehistoric times, the island was initially called Strogili due to its shape.

Where does the name "Santorini" come from ? 1
*Greek historian Herodotus

Strogili means round, and it is how the island used to look before the catastrophic volcanic eruption that changed the form of the island entirely.

This great eruption resulted in the creation of three separate islands, Aspronisi, Therasia and Santorini and two residual volcanic islands, Palaia Kameni and Nea Kameni. It also led to the formation of the great caldera that played an essential role in Santorini’s development.

Nea Kameni is a small uninhabited Greek island of volcanic origin located in the Aegean Sea, within the flooded Santorini caldera. Nea Kameni and the neighbouring small island Palea Kameni (the new and old burnt islands) have formed over the past two millennia through repeated eruptions of dacite lava and ash.

santorini volcano
Where does the name "Santorini" come from ? 4

After this event, the Phoenicians settled in Santorini as its unparalleled beauty enchanted them. Subsequently, they named the island Kallisti (it means the most beautiful). This name definitely represents the island to date since the crowds of people that visit it every year are mesmerized by its unique characteristics that compose stunning scenery.

At the end of the 12th century BC, the Dorians from Sparta created a colony on the island, and they named it after their king, Theras, son of Autesion.

The Crusaders gave the name Santorini after a chapel of Saint Irene (Santa Irini-Santorini), which was located in Perissa or less likely, as stated in some other sources, in Riba at Therasia.

Thera and, of course, Santorini are the predominant and the most well-known.

During the Ottoman Rule, the Turks conquered the island and named it Dermetzik or Dirmetzik, a small mill, probably from the series of windmills on the island.

However, they never actually dwelled on the island. Nowadays, the island’s official name is Thera, but it is mainly known as Santorini, which is how the Greeks refer to it, too.

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