One of Santorini’s most popular products is the delicious and unique, cherry tomato. It is not just any tomato, it comes with a story. This product was the reason to construct a factory, that later was transformed into a museum. Today this cultural heaven is found almost 40km from Esperas Hotel. We will unfold the history and when you visit us, we will give you a taste of the Santorini Tomatini and give you the directions to visit the Tomato Industrial Museum and the Santorini Arts Factory.
A Tomato Factory
The seeds of this particular sort of tomato arrived to Santorini in the 19th century, the origin however is in debate. Some say that a Catholic Monk, first introduced and cultivated the tomato to the Santorinians and others that it came from the Suez region with the sailors of the time. It is a unique product, not found anywhere else in the world. The volcanic soil and the pumice stone assist its growth, because they hold the moisture they need to grow as the cherry tomato of Santorini is not irrigated.
The distinctive sweet taste made it very popular and the whole island was working for its production. In 1915 Dimitrios Nomikos, who saw a potential in this product and went into producing the tomato paste. The Nomikos family built the first canning factory in the Balkans, in Monolithos. In the 1950s, there are 9 factories fully operational on the island. This little gem of nature gave the island an economic boost. However, the earthquake in 1956 left a mark on the tomato production in Santorini. Most of the crops were destroyed and a lot of people fled the island. Even though the main Nomikos factory was not damaged, there was not enough manpower to restore the production. The economy shifted in the coming years and tourism began to grow. People began to work for this industry and the tomato first tomato factory stopped all operations in 1981.
The Arts Factory
Today, the Tomato Canning Factory has been transformed into a museum and the rest of the property into an events and cultural center. To this day, Nomikos family is the owner of this property which changed its purpose of existence. The love for culture and growth and the ability to adapt is the main characteristic of this land. Hence the building of the factory was transformed to the Industrial Tomato Museum instead of shutting down. Here one can travel back in history and learn how the cultivation, processing and production happened with machinery and tools of that period. One can even find handwritten notes, account books, the first labels and audiovisual material from people who actually worked in the factory.
The rest of the property is divided to an events place that hosts theatrical plays, exhibitions and concerts, a shop that sells objects designed by Greek designers. The Art Factory organizes also various educational events and conferences.
The introduction of the cherry tomato to Santorini, led to a great financial growth of the island. That was interrupted by the forces of nature, but the tomato production and factory supporting the locals simply changed. Tourism took over and the tomato factory became a factory for arts, supporting with its new role the growth of this island.
The growth continues and more people every year decide to visit our marvelous island. Make that choice for yourself as well and enjoy your stay the true Santorinian way, in Esperas hotel.