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Thirasia: History

There are no concrete information about the origin of the name of the island. According to tradition, perhaps it has a mythological origin, from the small daughter of king Thiras, Thirasia, to whom the king granted and built a palace (in the current region of Kavou-Korfou). Thirasia is a piece of 9 square kilometres that broke away from the ancient island Strongili after the terrible volcanic explosion of 1650 B.C. It is found in the north-western part of the caldera and is one mile away from Oia of Santorini, supplementing conceivably, along with Santorini and Aspronisi, the circular form of the ancient island.

As the archaeological discoveries testify (relics of buildings, earthen vessels), Thirasia was a part of the impressive prehistoric culture of Strongili in the 2nd millenium B.C. that was destroyed by the volcano. Its name comes from the beautiful girl of Thiras, head of the “Lakedaimonians” who settled on Santorini after the destruction, in the dues of 12th century B.C. In the settlements of Thirasia, that along with Oia of Santorini constitute a single community,268 residents  live permanently , from which 90% are seamen who deal with fishing, agriculture and tourism.

Thirasia constituted an autonomous municipality, however recently it was administratively included to the Community of Oia. The island is henceforth under populated. According to demographic elements, up to 1895 its population increased progressively (it reached 855 residents), while in our days its residents are roughly 300 and during winter perhaps there are no more than 150. Only two villages are inhabited today: the traditional settlement and capital Manolas, that is built at length of the steep eastern ridge, and Potamos, that is found in a river bed in the western part of the island. There are also two abandoned settlements: Agrilia and Kera.

The island is served by two small harbours: Riva in the north and Korfos, port of Manolas. In the first, that is the central harbour of the island - and is also named  Santa Irene from the chapel that is found there, approach mainly ships that come from the harbours of Oia and Athinio in Santorini. The second functions mainly during summer for tourist reasons. Few permanent residents live in both harbours.

The conditions of existence are those that forced the residents, and mainly the young to migrate. Agriculture and fishery were their main occupations. In Thirasia, due to the particularity of the volcanic cultivable ground, concrete varieties of vine, plum tomatoes, fava, the white aubergine and katsouni flourished. Most men of the island were seamen in the ships of great ship owners of Santorini and the women dealt mainly with rural work. Installations from the mines that functioned up to the 1960´s  in the island-as in Santorini-and traded volcanic materials as building materials are still visible.

All cultivations have fallen today in decline, most properties have been abandoned and the very few residents deal mainly with tourism. The adjacency with such a famous place, as Santorini, does not leave great margins of development to small Thirasia.
thirasia map