he museum is in Fira. Its collections include sculptures and inscriptions ranging from the Archaic to the Roman period, as well as pottery artifacts and clay figurines from the Geometric up to the Hellenistic period.
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The most important exhibits are the Theraic jar with the geometric patterns dated from the early 7th century BC; the large volcanic rock (trachyte) weighing 480 kilos; and many findings from the excavations at the cemetery of ancient Thera, such as jars and pottery, as well as kouros statues.
Standing at the centre of Fira, the Archaeological museum reveals the island’s long history. The current building near the cable car terminal, was constructed in 1960 to replace the one that had collapsed during the earthquake of 1956.
- Tel.: +30 22860 22217
- Open daily, except Monday, 8.00-15.00.
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Museum of prehistoric Thera
The museum of Prehistoric Thera in Fira is considered as one of the most important museums in Greece. Its special contents are masterpieces of art in the prehistoric Aegean, such as the famous wall paintings and the unique gold ibex figurine.
The museum houses finds from the excavation site, at Akrtotiri, conducted under the auspices of the Archaeological Society at Athens .Excavations at various other sites on the island, are carried out by the 21st Ephorate of Antiquities. The exhibitions purpose is to to sketch the course of Santorini (Thira) in prehistoric times, through selected finds from the thousands in the storerooms.
This was a dynamic and creative course which established the city at Akrotiri as one of the most important Aegean centres during the 18th and 17th centuries B.C.
- Tel.: +30 22860 23217
- Open daily, except Monday, 8.00-15.00.
Thera foundation P.Nomikos
The Thera Foundation is a non-profit organization that was created in 1969, by Mr. Peter M. Nomikos. Since 2005 Peter C. Nomikos Jr. has taken an increasing leadership position through a variety of new initiatives.
P. Nomikos Conference Centre
The Petros M. Nomikos Conference Centre was inaugurated in 1989 and it is dedicated to realizing and promoting social, cultural and scientific events to support the island of Santorini and the excavations of Akrotiri. Located in the capital and overlooking the Caldera and the volcano, the Conference Center is at a wonderful location. The main hall of the Conference Center has a capacity up to 220 people in theatre style. Many conferences are held each year. The busiest dates are from April to October.
Thera wallpainting exhibition & Santozeum
The discovery of the wall-paintings of Akrotiri in the excavations (1967-1974) of Professor Spyridon Marinatos is of outstanding importance. Of all the finds unearthed in the excavations there can be little doubt that the wall-paintings constitute the most significant contribution to our knowledge of Aegean art and society. The Thera Foundation hopes that by making the wall-paintings of Akrotiri widely available for study and enjoyment it is making a significant contribution to the understanding of early Aegean culture. Since 2011 the exhibition is hosted at Santozeum.
The collection of the Akrotiri Wall Paintings was developed in conjunction with The Thera Foundation, The Getty and Kodak Pathé. Excavated in Akrotiri between 1967-1974, the wall paintings provide outstanding insight into the ancestry of Santorini, and situate the ancient society as highly developed in the early Aegean world. Found on the walls of ancient Theran elite homes, they render ancient life, belief and historical events. Contemporary viewers can enjoy their artistic merits exhibited on the walls of this private house, in a sense as they were intended to be viewed as interior embellishments in antiquity.
The Santozeum is an artist run, interdisciplinary creative platform that fosters dialogue between the arts, humanities and sciences in both the local and international community. It aims to create a dynamic environment for young and emerging artists, providing a residency program in the arts, while connecting a global network of pioneers and professionals to Santorini. Founded in fall 2010, the Santozeum is a creative salon housed within a 1950s construction, fully renovated. Perched on the cliffs overlooking the caldera, its patios merge public and private spaces, while winding gardens and stunning vistas provide respite from the summer crowds.
- Tel.: +30 210 72 41 516
- Tel.: +30 6939763399
Τhe Cultural Centre Megaro Gyzi in Fira, was founded in 1980 with the initiative and financial funding of the Catholic Diocese of Santorini. It is housed in Megaro Gyzi in Fira, to a 17th century old family mansion of exceptional architectural interest, which survived the earthquake of 1956.
The Manor΄s front entrance decorates the Gyzi family crest. From the Cyzi Manor after the 1956 earthquakes only the basement remained, where the utility room of the old estate was. It is a unique building of its era in Santorini, since the ground floors develop around a patio, which attributes a distinctive architecture due to the inner open area created; this is partly covered with an elegant cross-shaped dome and partly uncovered. With the support and contribution from the Catholic Diocese of Santorini it has been carefully restored in a way that it retains much of its original character in an effort to preserve those distinct features of the local architectural heritage. The building was modified minimally to meet the functional demands of a Cultural Centre accommodating exhibition space and facilities for cultural events.
The Megaro Gyzi Museum is situated in the Halls of the Cultural Centre, where six Permanent Collections are exhibited. Collection of authentic engravings, of old historical manuscripts, of paintings of Santorini, of paintings donated by Pinto΄s couple, of old photographs of scenic Santorini and Santorini΄s strata.
From 1981 to 2006 the Cultural Centre Megaro Gyzi has been organizing cultural events, while from 2007 and onwards organizes annually during August (1-23/8) the Megaro Gyzi Festival, a festival of various cultural events including music concerts, art and painting exhibitions, theatrical performances etc. All visitors, foreign and Greek, enjoy these events at no charge, since there is a free general admission policy..
- Megaro Gyzi is situated across the Catholic Cathedral.
- Open May-October, Monday-Saturday: 10:00–16:00 Sunday closed.
- There is also a shop where you will find the publications of Megaro Gyzi Museum, replicas of the exhibits and many more.
- Τel.: +30 22860 23077
The mansion was built in Messaria, in 1888. It belonged to the local landowner and wine merchant George Emm. Argyros. One of the most noteworthy contemporary monuments of Santorini, it brings together local architecture and eclectic elements. The ceiling art is quite exquisite. All furniture and utensils have been preserved on the first floor, where visitors can take a walk around. On the ground floor, there is a luxury guesthouse. The edifice was severely damaged by the earthquake of 1956 and was fully restored with a donation from the Greek Ministry of Culture. In 1985, it was characterized a “work of art”. In 1997, it won the Europa Nostra award as a Greek cultural heritage site.
- Open: May-October
- Tel.: +30 22860 31669
Captain Antonis Dakoronias started collecting items that reveal the naval history of the island in 1951, and in 1956 the Maritime museum was founded. It is housed in a captain’s home since 1990, which was a donation of Mrs Dina Manosessou-Birbili, from Oia. It has one of the richest collections of exhibits in Greece, displaying rare figureheads, mariners’ chests, naval equipment, models of old and newer ships belonging to Santorini residents, watercolors of old sailboats, as well as photographic material and a book collection. Touring the museum you will discover how significant was the contribution of Santorinian ship owners and captains to the Greek maritime history.
Τel.: +30 22860 71156
The museum is just 1 km away from Fira, in Kontohori. It was founded by Emmanuel Ant. Lignos, lawyer, journalist and editor of the “Theraic News” paper. The building dates from 1861 and the rooms are infused with the atmosphere of the traditional houses of Santorini. The attention to detail is evident in the museum. You will see the the rock-hewn underground house, the kánava (οld winery), and the cave of the old pumice mine. Also, the traditional kafeneio (coffee house), the workshops of the carpenter, the barrel-maker, the shoemaker and others (with their original equipment),. You can rest at the beautiful yards which are full of flowers or visit the chapel of Aghios Konstantinos, as well as the gallery displaying the artwork of known painters inspired by Santorini.
- Open May-October
- Tel.: +30 22860 22792
Bellonio Cultural Foundation was founded by brothers Lucas and Evangelos Bellonias in 1994, after the establishment of the homonymous non profiteering institution. It is located near the central square of Fira and its purpose is the promotion of literature and arts on the island. It houses a library with 35.000 books, which is constantly enriched, as well as conference room and a parlour. The library is a very important part of the cultural heritage of Santorini. It was created in the late 1994 comprising initially 3.000 books from the private collection of the founders. The library of the Lucas and Evangelos Bellonias Foundation, besides its general cultural contribution is also an integral part of the educational community of the island and its purpose is to promote research, information and improve the level of education.
- The library is open Monday-Wednesday-Friday 09:00-15:00, Tuesday-Thursday 09:00-14:00 & 17:00-20:00
- Tel.: +30 22860 24960
Exhibition of minerals & fossils
The collection of minerals and fossils was created by the Cultural Society of Thera in 2006. It stands near the church of Timios Stavros (Holy Cross), in Perissa.The oldest of the museum’s exhibits dates back to 1.5 billion years ago and the newest to 50,000 years. Here, you will find minerals and fossils from Thera and the rest of Greece, as well as other countries. Exhibits include a rich collection of priceless minerals from Lavrio, Attiki. Of the fossils, which cover all groups of organisms, particularly important are the plant fossils of olive, mastic, and palm trees from the Santorini Caldera, dating back 50-60.000 years ago. This rare paleoflora, unique in the Mediterranean, provides evidence on the past evolutionary plant development in Europe.
- Visiting hours: In the summer, 10:00-14:00, daily. In the winter, only on Sunday mornings.
- Tel: +30 6977260048
Exhibition of musical instruments
Τhe exhibition of Ancient, Byzantine and Post Byzantine Musical Instruments includes instruments from the personal collection of Mr Christodoulos Halaris, a well known Greek musicologist and conductor. It is hosted in the offices of the old community of Oia. The instruments are constructed based on references in the written sources and other historical evidence about their existence and use, from prehistoric times to the Byzantine Empire. They are built as replicas of the original, in an effort to highlight the music culture over the centuries.
- Eveyday 10:00-14:00 and 18:00-22:00.
- Tel.: +30 210 9027369, +30 6932742170
Pyrgos Ecclesiastical collection
Aghia Triada, in the castle of Pyrgos, was the catholic of a small convent and was devastated by an earthquake in 1956. Under an initiative by the late Liza Patiniotou-Marinou, President of the Association of Pyrgos Residents in Thera, and the locals, the church was rebuilt. The site remained closed until 1997. From 1995 to 1998, the Community of Pyrgos-Kallisti collected and preserved the relics. With the cooperation of the Second Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities and the support of the Holy Metropolis of Thera, they inaugurated the site in August 1997. Since then, it is open as a permanent exhibition of holy images and ecclesiastical relics.
It includes icons from local and Cretan icon painters, wood-carvings and metal-works, ceramics, ecclesiastical embroideries, vestments, liturgical books and other objects of ecclesiastical use, dating mainly from the 17th-18th century. Among these objects, one can find the tissued sleeve garters with representations from the Presentation of the Virgin Mary and the Hypapante, as well as “podea”, an embroidery placed below the icon of the Virgin Mary.
The collection’s icons
The first icon of the collection is Panagia Vrefokratousa (Virgin and Child), the second one is the composition Theia Leitourgia (Mass) and then, the visitor can see the icons of Aghios Ioannis, Aghios Georgios, Koimisi this Theotokou (Assumption of the Virgin Mary), dating back to the 17th century, Christ as the Great High Priest, coming from the church of Panagia, and Aghios Iakovos, a Byzantine icon from the namesake church. Also, there are despotic icons from the chapel of Faneromeni, with the Enthroned Virgin and Child and the tunic of Christ. From the old church of Faneromeni comes the icon of Aghia Ekaterini.
The Cross with the trilobed ends of the antennas and the “icons of mourning” with Virgin Mary and John are excellent examples of wood carvings. The three tabernacles and the epitaphios complete the collection of woodcuts dating back to the 18th and the 19th centuries.
- Open from April to October
- Tel.: +30 22860 31812
It was in Pyrgos, Kaliistis in a traditional building complex of an old kanava built in 1895 that the present day owner, Giannis (John) Drosos-Chrysos, born and bred in Santorini and lover of his island, was inspired to create a place which would give the visitor the opportunity to enjoy a museum-like collection of artifacts and photographs. This collection would reflect the bygone traditional way of life of the island as well as the economic activities of the inhabitants of the time. The visitor will begin with the wine-making process, continue with tomato and fava processing, the mansion and the farmhouse, the limnaris, the pocharis, the musicians, the barrel-maker, the tinker, the photographs and end with the original family kanava.
It is estimated that 600 churches and country churches were built on the island -most of them after the 1956 earthquake. 50 of these churches are consecrated to Virgin Mary!
Most of them are characterized by folk architecture of a unique style. Big all-white surfaces in the form of cubes, parallelograms, octagonal prisms, spheres, and cylinders dominate. There are no architectural ornaments, while openings are few and small. However, there are also several big churches built in the end of the 19th century. Typical examples include Panagia (Virgin Mary) of Bellonias in Fira and Aghios Georgios (Saint George) in Oia, before the earthquake. They are based on Byzantine and Classical Greek architectural standards.
Rock hewn underground and built are the most common types of temples. Rock hewn is one fourth of the island’s churches and have been built as the respective houses. They are small and simple, their spaces are cavernous and dark, they have no decoration but nevertheless excite the visitor as works of faith of the poor*. Built churches compared to Cyclades’ have the distinctiveness of totally adapting to the volcanic environment by craftsmen who maintained the tradition using strictly local materials. The simplest architectural type is the Basilica, single aisled, marble roofed or with a dome, two aisled (more rare type with Saint Irene of Perissa built before the 12th century as a typical example). Three aisled Basilica is Aghios (St) Nikolaos o Kissiras in Pyrgos. There are also Crossdomed and Crosstyped recorded temples.
It is worth visiting the monastery of Prophet Εlias near Pyrgos and the monastery of Saint Nicholas in Imerovigli.
There are churches to be admired in the settlements as well as around them or on the slopes of the mountains. The most important byzantine monument in Santorini is the temple of Panagia Episkopi (Mary’s Bishopric) in the village Episkopi (or Mesa) Gonia. You will find many remarkable churches in the Kasteli of Pyrgos, in the settlement and around it. Interesting are also the temples of Megalochori, Birth of Mary, Aghii (St) Anargiri and Zoodochos Pigi.
A very impressive chapel that is built on a wonderful spot in the volcanic rock is Panagia Sergena near Vothonas. In Karterados there is the church of the Ascension of Christ. Inside the castle of Emporios rises the old church of Evangelism or Panagia Mesiani. In Fira you will admire the Orthodox Cathedral, the temple of Saint Ioannis the Theologian (Aghios Ioannis Theologos), Aghios (st) Minas at Kato Fira and the Catholic Cathedral. In Imerovigli it is worth noticing the churches of Anastasis (resurrection), Aghios Georgios, Panagia Malteza, Aghios Ioannis Katiforis on the road to Skaros, and Panagia Theoskepasti on its west side. In the centre of Oia there is the temple of Panagia Platsani and towards the Goulas you will find the church of the Birth of Mary, and Aghios Nikolaos (St Nicholas). In the settlement and in the broader area of Oia there are a lot more smaller and larger churches some of which are the old temple of Aghia (St) Matrona in Finikia and Ai Lias (Saint Elias), Aghios (St) Ioannis Thalassinos (seaman) beside the lighthouse, Kira-Panagia. Most have indigo cupolas and ornate steeples. Inside there are pictures, silver offerings hanging from chandeliers, Russian ecclesiastic relics and elaborately carved walls from local artisans. They are all equipped with an auxiliary edifice containing benches and tables, (“panigirospito”), which is used during a celebration and when a feast (“panigiri”) is cited (meat with potatoes, beans, cod with potatoes etc.) Those who love trekking will come across some very beautiful country churches. In the path of Fira-Imerovigli-Oia you will come upon Aghios (St) Antonios, Prophet Elias above Imerovigli, the small church of the Cross, on the top of Mavro Vouno. Panagia Katefiani stands out in the path leading from ancient Thera to Perissa.
* most information recovered from Santorini island municipality official site
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