Ancient Thera in Santorini, Greece is a spectacular archeological site dating back to 9 BC. As a matter of fact, Thera was the ancient name for the island of Santorini. Located at one of the highest points in Santorini the views are amazing. We visited this site during our fall 2021 trip. This site is a very large and well excavated. The trail is well marked. There are steps and the path is steep and rocky at times. There is a charge for entrance. You can read more about charges, hours of operation, and dates opened here.
Ancient Thera is about 20 minutes from the town of Fira in Santorini, Greece. It is located on the top of Mesa Vouno Mountain.
The Road Up
Starting in Kamari you will find the turn off for Ancient Thera, although the sign is not large. The switchback road up consists of a cobblestone paving most of the way although it was easy enough to drive on. We drove a dune buggy but saw people on motorbikes, ATV and even walking. Note that there are steep drop-offs. It was fun though and the views are spectacular.
Set high above the cliffs on a mountain top in Southeastern Santorini this ancient city is a great place to explore and also learn about the islands history. This city was inhabited from 9th century BC until 726 AD. Current belief is a volcano eruption led the city to decline and eventually become abandoned. The city had a strategic advantage because of it’s location. Moreover, you are able to see in many directions out to sea. The city was large. It included a long Main Street, housing, a theatre, an agora (town square), a stoa (public building), a temple, and Roman baths. Residents drew water from cisterns and furthermore, the town had an organized drainage system.
Church of Agios Stefanos
The Church of Agios Stefanos (Saint Stephen) was the first place we came across after walking up a fairly steep incline. It was very windy here, as a matter of fact, it was very windy throughout Ancient Thera. In the 6th century AD a basilica had been built here. At some point in time the basilica was destroyed and the Church of Agios Stefanos was built on it’s remains dating back to the 8th or 9th century AD
Temenos of Artemidoros
The Temenos of Artemidoros was founded sometime in mid 3 BC. This temenos, (meaning a temple enclosure or court), was an open air sanctuary chiseled out of rock by a man named Artemidorsos. There are carvings here of an eagle, lion, and dolphin representing gods. There is also a carving of Artemidoros himself.
Then Exedrae in Ancient Thera was once 3 temples in a row dates from 1 or 2 AD. This area once had statues on pedestals of the prominent citizens of this time.
The Stoa was probably the most impressive building in Ancient Thera. A Stoa is a long building with one or more covered rows of columns running parallel along the wall which makes a walkway. This was most likely constructed before 2nd century A.D.
House of Tyche
This building was more than likely a private residence during Roman times and typical of that era. Remnants from the goddess Tyche (Fortune) were found in this ruin, therefore, giving this house a name.
This public building contained a public latrine on one end and even had a hot bath room.
Built around the second century B.C. This theatre had a capacity of approximately 1,500 people.
This was a typical Greek house during this era. This entrance would have led to a courtyard. The house would have had a cistern for water supply and also drains for sewage disposal.
Apollo Pythios Sanctuary
Built as part of the temple to honor the god Apollo Pythios, who is the patron god of Delphi or the oracle of Delphi.
Sanctuary of the Egyptian Gods
The Egyptian triad of gods, Serapis, Isis and Anubis were worshiped in Santorini in ancient days and this sanctuary was built on Thera during the 3rd century BC. The cut out rocks are places for votive offerings.
Ptolemaic Garrison Post
This building also dates to the 3rd century BC and was where the commander was based. Thera was ruled by the commander of this garrison who was appointed.
Roads and Stairs
Ancient Thera in Santorini, Greece was a Wow Factor for us. It is amazing how expansive this archeological site is. In all honesty, we were expecting a few ruins and instead saw an entire community. In addition, the views are awesome. Ancient Thera is not a place that seems to be a huge Santorini tourist spot, but it is an amazing Ancient Greece location. All in all, definitely worth visiting.
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