Santorini has gained worldwide tourist attention for its gorgeous shimmering sea and white-colored sand, but this ancient gem won itself the title of “The Greek Pompeii”. This historical ruin is known to the world as Akrotiri. Situated at the southern part of the island, Akrotiri is what is still there of an ancient city that was once buried under volcanic ashes. However, one extraordinary thing about this former city is it has remained virtually intact, despite of time and natural calamities.
After the volcano eruption of Thira, around 3000 years ago, Akrotiri was unwillingly covered with volcanic ash. This same volcanic material plays a big role in preserving the city and its buildings. The remains of this Greek site was originally uncovered in the 1860s by workers digging out the volcanic ash to utilize in the Suez Canal.
Akrotiri flourished during the Middle and Late Bronze Age, which is roughly 20th-17th century BC. Covering approximately twenty acres, it was one of the major port cities overlooking the Aegean city. Its structures are architectural masterpieces well worth seeing. Some of these magnificent structures feature exquisitely carved facades. The houses, workshops and warehouses reveal the life-style of a place previously used by the Minoans.
Xeste 3 is one of the most awesome buildings on this site. A large edifice runs over two floors. A single level consists of over 14 rooms. The spaces of Xeste 3 captivates tourists with beautiful murals. One other fascinating construction worth visiting is the West House. Regardless of its small size, it is well organized with the ground floor containing a kitchen, workshops and storerooms, while the first floor consists of a spacious chamber and other rooms, also decorated with murals. Other prominent parts definitely worth visiting include the House of the Ladies, Xeste 4, and the Complex Delta.
If you want to visit the breathtaking Akrotiri ruins, the site is generally open from April to October, from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. If you are planning a summer trip, you need to keep in mind that the days can be quite hot. Try to visit the site in the early morning to evade the heat. The site welcomes visitors from Tuesday through Sunday. Mondays are closed. To get access to Akrotiri, you can purchase a special ticket, which gives you admission not only to the old site but also to numerous attractions like the Museum of Prehistoric Thira, the Roman-era village of Ancient Thira, the Archaeological Museum in Thira.
You are free to roam the Akrotiri archaeological site at your own personal pace. However, consider joining one of the guided sightseeing tours. A guided tour can be more intriguing as an experienced guide can give you valuable details and insights to the history and elements of the complex.
If you decide against a guided tour, make your visit more meaningful by researching Akrotiri in advance or obtaining a guidebook. The current excavation site is believed to be only 10% of the whole city. Which means that there are still architectural structures to be excavated and mysteries to be uncovered in this particular spectacular historic landmark.
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