The Naval Museum of Thira in Oia opens at the beginning of April every year and welcomes visitors until the last day of October. Located in an old mansion, especially restored to fit its new purpose, the museum documents the maritime history of the island from ancient times to the XIX Century.
The Naval Museum of Thera is an institution with tradition. It was founded in 1951 by Antonis Dakoronias and it operates at its new location, in a traditional sea captain’s house, donated to the museum by members of the Birbilis family. The building is significant as it is a reminder of the rich nautical past of Oia and the island. Antonis Dakoronias himself was a Captain in the Greek Merchant Navy.
Although it traces the commercial maritime history of Thira back to the time before the Minoan eruption of Thera, the most interesting display of the museum documents the history of the Hellenic Merchant Marine, which developed extensively in the XVIII Century. The ground floor of the permanent exhibition features nautical equipment in chronological order, as well as objects used by seamen for storage, memorabilia, and tools. Many of the exhibits come from the shipyards of Santorini, Vlahos and Nomikos.
An extensive photographic collection at the Naval Museum of Thera allows visitors a glimpse at the past. In the XIX and early XX centuries, Santorini had a very active fleet of merchant vessels and had a rich commercial activity with countries like Russia, France, Italy, England, and Austria. The photo exhibition shows the shipyards of Santorini, but also photos of crews and local villages.
The library and archives of the Naval Museum of Thera are of interest too, especially for the collection of rare and historic books, like Ioannis Patousas’ encyclopedia from 1795. The collection of ship journals and naval maps is noteworthy as well.
Additional details concerning the exhibits of the Naval Museum of Thera can be found here.