Santorini = Atlantis ???
The lost city of Atlantis, the utopia that sank suddenly to the bottom of the sea is just a myth, right? Maybe not.
As you probably guessed from the section header, some believe that Santorini is the site of the mythical, ancient utopia. Here's why.
1. According to Plato, Atlantis was a circular island before its destruction. Why significant? Because Santorini appears to have once been a circular island.
Actually, Santorini isn't an island, but rather a group of five islands that surround a volcanic caldera (see photo below). The largest of these islands, which is commonly referred to as Santorini, is actually called Thira (or Thera).
According to historians, these five islands used to be fused together in one more or less circular island until a massive eruption tore them apart in 1646 BC. The explosive eruption blew much of the island into the water and caused massive landslides on the what remains of what we now call Santorini.
2. Atlantis was known as a utopian society. Before the 1646 eruption split one bigger island into the five we now know as Santorini, the singular island was called Stronghyle (meaning "round isle"). Stronghyle was an important outpost for the ancient Minoan Empire, an astoundingly advanced civilization that traces its origins back to 3500 BC.
The Minoans were the world's first great sailors. They were educated, artistic, organized and the first known European society to use a writing system and indoor plumbing. When you visit the ruins of a Minoan palace or settlement, you'll find that they dedicated LOTS of space to food storage. You'll also find that there really weren't defensive fortifications. Plenty of food, enduring peace, cutting edge art, technology and architecture...the Minoans and the utopic Atlantians are starting to seem more and more similar.
3. The lifelong residents know the secret. This one's a stretch, but we believe it... Many people living on Santorini were not born there. But those that were, and those whose family lineage is Santorini back through the centuries, well, they seem to know a secret that can't be told.
This is especially true of the residents of the little island of Thirasia, which to this day remains a traditional, mostly unaffected by tourism, old time Greek community. There you'll meet Jimmy, our fit and limber octogenarian friend who gardens, walks for miles up and down the hills everyday and runs the guesthouse with the most spectacular views in all of Santorini.
Jimmy will take you on a hike through the old neighborhoods and tell you all about how everyone seemed to live very happily into and past their hundredth year. When you ask what the Thirasia secret is he'll probably just look around and say, "we have very clean air here." But if you spend enough time with him you'll know there's something more. There's a real zest for life in Santorini with its own unique fingerprint. It's something special. Something leftover, perhaps, from the brilliant Minoans / Atlantians.