At the northern end of the village of Perissa, at the foot of the peak of Mesa Vouno (365 m), there are unique archaeological excavations – the ruins of the church of St Irene from the 13th – 9th centuries AD. It is probably from it that the island of Santorini takes its name.
During research work in 1992, it turned out that under the foundations of the church there is an even older monument – an early Christian basilica from the 5th-6th centuries AD.
It is the largest and most important basilica discovered on the island – three-nave (the ruins of the eastern nave were used to build a central Byzantine church), 25 metres long. Among the most important findings are the columns and decorative elements made of marble from the Marmara Island.
“Few buildings from the early Christian period have survived to this day in such heights, and the size and splendour of the church and its rich decoration make it an important monument of Byzantine culture”. – Eugenia Gerousi, the archaeologist involved in the research, said of the basilica.
The archaeological site requires further research work, which unfortunately is not being carried out at present. Research has shown that the floor of the temple, made of large marble slabs, is at a depth of two metres from the present ground level.
At present, the ruins are deteriorating irretrievably due to inadequate protection from the weather (strong winds and heavy rain).
They can be viewed from behind the grid surrounding the excavations.