Santorini is a place that will travel you in time. Since the time of Ancient Greece, Santorini played an important role both in the Aegean, as well as in all Mediterranean. In Santorini museums will have the opportunity to discover the island’s past, starting few thousand years ago till today. Santorini museums have a variety of concepts, archaeological museums, folklor museums, even wine museums. Here are some useful info about them. We hope that this will help you to choose which one to visit!
Archaeological Museum of Thera
The Archaeological Museum of Santorini is located in Fira, Santorini’s capital, in a short distance from the cablecar. In 1960’s the museum was moved to another building replacing the building destroyed in 1956 by the earthquake. The Archaeological Museum, houses sculptures dated back from the Archaic period to the Roman, as well as vases and figurines from the Geometric period. The exhibits that stand out is the amphora with Geometric decoration of the 7th century BC, and the trachyte, a large volcanic rock of 480 kg weight, which, according to historical data it was lifted by the weightlifting athlete of antiquity, Evmastas. The Museum houses a variety of objects excavated from the archaeological site of Thira, as well as freskoes and Kouroi statues. The Archaeological Museum of Thera is closed on Monday.
Museum of Prehistoric Thera
Beside being one of the most important among Santorini museums, The Museum of Prehistoric Thera is also one of the most important museums in Greece, as it hosts findings from the excavations at Akrotiri area. The museum is located in Fira, Santorini’s capital and reflects the rich prehistoric past of the island. The most
important exhibits are frescoes that are saved either whole or partial from the archaeological site of Akrotiri and through their different topics give us a picture of the daily life and environment of the local residents. Objects that show great importance are a variety of vases, pottery and jewelery ranging from the 5th millennium BC to the 17th century BC. The first floor of the building hosts temporary exhibitions of the museum with objects from the museum’s storerooms, while the permanent exhibition is located on the second floor of the building.
Maritime Museum of Oia
The Maritime Museum is located in Oia and consists one of the few museums of this kind in the Aegean, which includes the great maritime history of the island since the 19th century. Housed in a traditional captain’s house of the 19th century, donated by the local resisdent of Oia Dina Manolessou Mpirmpili, the idea of creating the museum belongs to the Captain Anthony Dakoronia in 1951. The island had a strong naval activity in the Mediterranean in the 19th century, exporting a special kind of santorinian volcanic solid, or local Vinsanto wine and introducing new products and other precious goods, as well as new experiences that contributed to the development of the island. The Maritime Museum visitors can see anchors, ship models, akropora, and various items such as maps, books, rare documents, charters and a variety of photographs. The museum is closed on Tuesdays.
This impressive mansion is located in Messaria area. It was built in the late 19th century and more specifically in 1888 by builders specialized in the neoclassical architectural type that contributed to the re-building of modern Greece (after the Greek National Revolution). This stunning building belonged to the winemaker George Argyros with intense activity on wine export in other places outside Santorini as well as worldwide. In 1956, a part of the building was destroyed completely and in 1985 it was declared as a “remarkable example of architecture of its time”. In 1994, fully restored, opened its doors to the audience. The visitors can enjoy the unique ceiling paintings with delicate depicted motifs, a variety of carved furniture, the careful decoration, combined with the eclectic architecture of the building that shows the nobility of the 19th century on the island. The Mansion is open from May to October and visitors can follow a group or individual tour of the building.
The Wine Museum is located in Vothonas area, in Santorini and belongs to the George Koutsogiannopoulos family. It’s one of the most enjoyable among Santorini museums for island’s visitors. It is the unique cave museum of wine in Greece, as it is located 8 meters below the ground level and has a length of 300 meters and the halls and corridors are maze shaped. The museum presents the winemaking evolution in Santorini from 1660 to 1950. All the tools as well as
the machines that are exhibited are authentic and belong to the previous generations of the family.
Visitors can observe the stages of production of Santorini wine, from pruning to pressing the grapes through representations. Also, voice tour is available in 14 languages. After the tour in the museum, visitors can taste wine from the winery of the family Koutsogiannopoulos, «Volcan Wines».
The Wine Museum is open all year long, with an entry fee of 8 €.
Folklore Museum of Santorini
The Folklore Museum is located in Kontochori, a few kilometers away from Fira, Santorini’s capital. It belongs to the local resident Emmanuel Lignos, lawyer and journalist who desired to promote the cultural heritage of the island.
The Museum is housed since 1973 in an old cave type building and includes antique furniture and family relics, all dated back before 1950.
Apart from the house, the museum also includes other areas of interest: Historical archive with books and manuscripts, an Art Gallery with works inspired by Santorini and Laboratories (winery, carpentry, tinsmiths, etc.). In the courtyard there is a chapel built in honor of the last owner of the house, Constantis Lignos.
The Folklore Museum is open from April to October.
Pyrgos Ecclesiastical Exhibition
On the top of the mountain of Pyrgos village there is the monastery of the Agia Triada a former catholic church that was almost destroyed from the strong earthquake in 1956 and after the reconstruction of the church in1997 it houses an interesting exhibition of religious relics and holy icons. Visitors can wander among the woodcrafts, ceramics and metal religious items, embroidery and vestments dating from the 17th-18th century. The most important among the holy images is that of the Virgin and Child, St. John, Christ as the Great High Priest and St. James. Among the woodcarving exhibits, the Cross with trilobed ends of the antennas is an excellent example.
The collection is open to the public from April to October.
Museum of Minerals and Fossils
The Museum of Minerals and Fossils is located in Perissa, very close to the church of the Holy Cross and is open since 2006. It contains a stunning collection of minerals and fossils not only from the island of Santorini, but also from the rest of Greece and abroad. Through the exhibits an insight into the evolution of life on the planet is given, but also information such as the climate, flora, fauna and environment before the coming of the human species. It is worth mentioning that the oldest exhibit of the museum is 1.5 billion years old, while the youngest is dated back to 50,000 years ago. Through the collection minerals from Lavrio and olive and palm fossils from the Caldera of Santorini show interest revealing the evolution of the plant world.
The museum in the summer months is open daily, while during the winter season is open only on Sunday mornings.
The Cultural Centre Megaro Gyzi is housed in a 17th-century mansion located in Fira, the capital of Santorini, just on the opposite side of the Catholic church. The Catholic Diocese of Thera contributed significantly to the restoration and renovation of the mansion after the devastating earthquake of 1956, to highlight the local traditional architecture and house the cultural center, which hosts a festival of exhibitions and cultural events in August.
In the permanent collections of the mansion, visitors and local can admire paintings and photos of Santorini, original engravings and paintings donated by Pinto’s couple.
Megaro Gyzi is open from May to October.
”Santorini of the Past”
In Pyrgos village of Santorini, there is the Cultural Village “Santorini of the past” housed in a complex of winery buildings (canavas) dated back to 1895. The founder, Yiannis Drosos inspired the idea due to the need of presenting the old way of life of Santorini inhabitants to the new generation with pictures and personal experiences from his childhood. In the museum, a variety of objects, furniture, photographs and personal family relics are exposed reflecting another era of the past. The visitor learns about the production of wine, fava beans, tomato paste, as well as about a variation of activities of the daily life of the inhabitants. In the Cultural Village, the visitor apart from touring in the museum, can dine in the restaurant, participate in cooking classes, seminars, events as well as to book a stay in the «Cultural Guesthouses». The complex is open to the public daily from 11.00-16.00 and from 18.00- 21.00.
Exhibition of Musical Instruments
From 2010, the old building of the Community of Oia houses a unique exhibition of musical instruments, which are copies of ancient, were manufactured according to historical sources varying from prehistory to the Byzantine era. The collection, including brass instruments, percussion, psalteries, phorminx (ancient Greek music instrument), etc., belongs to the musician Christodoulos Halaris and the reconstruction of them aims in promoting the variety of musical instruments of the past. The Aristotle University contributed substantially to the creation of these copies. Visitors are also able to experience the sound of each instrument through a special sound mechanism in order to create a full picture of the ancient musical instruments. Opening hours: Daily from 10:00-14:00 and from 18:00-22:00.
Santozeum museum is located in Fira, the capital of Santorini. Founded in 2010, it consists a cultural site in order to trigger a cultural “movement” through dialogue between arts, science and humanties in the local and international communities. Through Santozeum, a network of scientists and artists are linked with the island of Santorini. Santozeum hosts the exhibition of Paintings of Thera, which is the three-dimensional representation of important frescoes unearthed at Akrotiri in their actual size and can be studied by scientists and visitors. The visitor, apart from the inside of the museum will have the chance to admire the
breathtaking view to Caldera. The museum is open from May to October from 10:00 to 18:00.
Art Space Santorini
The winery Art Space is located in Exo Gonia, a small village 7 klm Southeast of Fira, Santorini’s capital. This old winery, built in 1861, operated under its owner Nicholas Argyros until 1952 when a new winery, known as Santo Wines opened. In 1999, Antonis Argyros, son of Nikolaos, restored the facilities and the history of the winery continues until today. The point where there was the old winery, now is used for exhibition of contemporary art, with paintings and sculptures of important artists from all around the world. This old canava has a picturesque interior architecture and it consists a piece of art itself. It is open daily from 11:00am until sunset.