Santorini’s history is as exciting as the island’s looks! The island is what is left of a colossal volcanic explosion 3,500 years ago that wiped out a flourishing prehistoric civilization, its existence revealed by the excavations in the Akrotiri area. This devastating volcanic eruption of Thira- Santorini’s original name- has become the most famous single event in the Aegean before the fall of Troy. The eruption left a large 'caldera' - a crescent shaped bay- surrounded by volcanic ash deposits hundreds of metres deep and may have led indirectly to the collapse of the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete, 110 km (68 mi) to the south, through a gigantic tsunami. Another popular theory holds that in the eruption of Thera can be traced the legend of Atlantis. The name of Santorini was given to the island by the Venetians in the 13th century and is a reference to Saint Irene.