At the magnificent beach of Vlychada lies a historic building narrating the interesting aspects of the island’s industry, the Tomato Museum of Santorini. In 2014 the historical tomato canning factory of Dimitrios Nomikos in Vlychada was restored and transformed into a modern Industrial Tomato Museum, which also operates as the Santorini Arts Factory.
The exhibits of the Tomato Museum
In the Museum, the visitor experiences a lovely journey back to the industrial past of Santorini. You shall witnesses a tribute to the tomato processing industry, one of the most famous traditional products of Santorini. Here, you will learn everything about all the traditional methods of cultivation, processing, and production of tomatoes via interesting audiovisual documentaries of people who worked in the factory. Huge machinery dating back to 1890, old tools, hand-written factory logs, and first labels will travel you back to a by-gone era.
Experiences at the Tomato Museum
Apart from the audiovisual material, guided tours are available and we recommend you not to skip them. During the tour, you will get a very comprehensive idea of the historic details while the staff will showcase to you some of the old machine’s operations live. You will also have the chance to taste some of the delicious tomato paste, which is tastier when savored at its place of origin! Shopping in the Tomato Museum gift shop is rather unusual with lots of handmade things tomato-oriented, difficult to find anywhere else.
Events and art exhibitions
Last but not least, the Tomato Museum, being an art and cultural venue, frequently hosts interesting cultural events, concerts, and exhibitions, activities like cooking or yoga lessons, workshops, seminars, and performances. There are also two permanent art exhibitions, a photography exhibition and an art one, both worth your visit.
Interesting facts about the tomato’s industry history
- In 1922, Dimitrios Nomikos built one of the first canning factories that turned out to be the most productive family business in Santorini at that time. In 1945, George Nomikos, son of Dimitrios, builds in Vlychada, a new canning factory. During its first year of operation, the new factory operates without a roof! The “red gold”, as they used to call the tomato paste, was popular from one side of the country to the other.
- In the winter of 1952, during a downpour, the door of the large door courtyard of Nomikos factory breaks. The water enters the factory and drags products and machinery into the sea, flooding the factory with mud at a height of 2.30 meters. The following year the warehouses were built on the upper side of the yard.
- The downfall of tomato cultivation, but also of Santorini, came from the terrible blow of Egelados on July 9th, 1956. The island was shaken by a 7.8 Richter earthquake. The disastrous quake strike at 5:12 in the morning. At that time most of the farmers had already left for their crops to avoid the hard sun while picking the tomatoes. Only the mothers and their babies were left in the houses, as well as the merchants and employees. So the tomato shortened the death list.
- Although Nomikos factory survived the earthquake, the day after, the island began to empty. The inhabitants were startled by the horrifying earthquake hit and felt terrified. They left their homes, crops, and properties and moved to Athens. The production of the tomato faded significantly and only the vineyard remained. Almost all factories closed and only some of the remaining residents were cultivating a few tomatoes mainly for home consumption.
- Today, the Union of Thera Products Cooperatives, which had already started operating in 1952 on the beach of Monolithos, is the only Santorini tomato processing and standardization unit. The Union played an important role to label Santorini’s tomatoes as a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) product. Its official name is ‘Tomataki Santorini’s’ and today is considered a delicacy treat and one of the most famous traditional products of Santorini.
- On July 20th islanders celebrate the tomato feast, while on those days the islanders harvest tomataki from the fields.
- Location: Vlychada
- Vlychada is an easily accessible beach by car or local bus. It is located on the south coast of Santorini, 13 kilometers from Fira.
- Museum Opening Hours: Daily 10:00-18:00 except Mondays
- Entrance Fee: 10 euros per person
- Children Fee over 12 years old: 6 euros
- Children Fee up to 12 years old: free
- Guided Tour Included
Check out a list of 6 must-see museums of Santorini!