What Was Santorini Called in Ancient Times?

Santorini is a beautiful and popular tourist destination in Greece, known for its stunning views of the Aegean Sea and its unique volcanic landscape. But what was it called in ancient times? Let’s explore the history of this fascinating island.

Origins of Santorini

Santorini, also known as Thera, is actually a group of islands located in the southern Aegean Sea. The islands were formed by a massive volcanic eruption that took place around 3,600 years ago. This eruption is considered one of the largest in recorded history and is believed to have contributed to the decline of the Minoan civilization on Crete.

The Name Santorini

The name “Santorini” actually comes from the island’s patron saint, Saint Irene. However, this name is relatively recent – it was only officially adopted in the 13th century after the island came under Venetian rule.

Ancient Names for Santorini

In ancient times, Santorini was known by several different names. The Minoans, who were the first civilization to settle on the island, called it “Strongyli,” which means “round” or “circular” in Greek. This name referred to the shape of the island as seen from above.

Later on, during Classical Greek times (5th-4th centuries BCE), Santorini was known as “Calliste,” which means “most beautiful.” This name reflected the island’s stunning natural beauty and its popularity among poets and artists.

During Roman times (1st century BCE – 4th century CE), Santorini was known as “Thera,” which is still used as an alternative name today. It’s unclear where this name originated from, but some theories suggest that it may have been derived from an ancient Spartan queen named Thera.


In conclusion, Santorini has had several different names throughout its long and storied history. From Strongyli to Calliste to Thera, each name reflects a different aspect of the island’s character and its place in ancient Greek and Roman culture. Today, Santorini is known around the world as a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history, culture, and natural beauty.