The castle of Akrotiri village-The tower of La Ponda

Santorini island has a special place in travelers’ hearts for its mystical natural beauty and endless majestic views. There are unlimited interesting things to do while in Santorini. Today we will add one more secret to this to-do island list. And to begin with, we will start a journey at the timeless history of Santorini and explore its cultural activities. Where to? To the Venetian tower of La Ponda that lies in Akrotiri village of course!

History of La Ponda

Speaking of the Venetian tower of La Ponda let’s take a peek at its “royal” history. The castle that a long time ago defended the people of Akrotiri from attacks still stands at the very top of the village up to this day. It was built in the 13th century and it was previously known as ‘Punta Castelli’ and ‘La Ponta,’ meaning ‘the peak’ in Medieval Italian. The castle was donated to the Gozzadini family by Nikolas Sanudos, the Duke of Naxos who kept it until 1617. The fact that the Gozzadini family was from Bologna, rather than Venice, which was at war with the Ottoman Empire, enabled them to keep control of it for a long time…In 1617, the Ottomans eventually conquered Akrotiri. They retained it until 1822 when they finally returned it back to the Greeks.

La Ponda- Photo by Dietmar Rabich on Wikimedia

As for today, the truth is that only a few remains of the castle have survived. Time and the devastating earthquake of 1956 impacted significantly the tower that dominates the hilltop.

La Ponda Venetian Tower – Exhibition and Workshop

Now we have a question for you. Have we ever mentioned, that the Greek people are very famous for their creativity? Of course, we have done that! Greeks love their past, honor their ancestors and respect the history of their land. Their attentiveness to the past in comparison with their passion for development reflects on their creations!

And this is what happened in this case as well! Since 2012, the tower has been undergoing a major transformation and reconstruction. Yannis Pantazis, a Greek music historian, and his Greek-American wife, Argy, lovingly restored the tower and turned it into a tsabouna exhibition and workshop called La Ponta. A new, modern cultural point of interest was born on this unearthly island. Not even to mention that their kind action received praise from Greece’s Ministry of Culture!

The tsabouna is a bagpipe-like Greek folk wind instrument that still many musicians on Cycladic islands play. This extraordinary musical instrument, along with other traditional Greek ones, is handcrafted from scratch at La Ponta’s Workshop, and you can actually purchase one as a souvenir! This is indeed a wow souvenir!

Tsabouna- Photo by Symposion Cultural Center

Moving closer to today, in 2018, La Ponta expanded and relocated to the traditional village of Megalochori where the same owners co-created and co-founded the Symposion Cultural Center by La Ponta. From June to October, you shall attend beautiful evening concerts, which will add to the enjoyment of your stay at Santorini. Visiting the castle alone is an excellent choice if you want an authentic experience in a serene place away from the crowds. The view from the outside sitting area of the tower is simply amazing! La Ponda is now Santorini’s only publicly available Venetian monument which is still…free to visit. We assume that this is something that we have to underline! 😜

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