On the south side of Santorini, a former tomato paste factory has been turned into a museum celebrating the history of the island’s tomato industry.
When the factory opened in Vlychada in 1945, there was no electricity. Coal powered the machinery and seawater was pumped in to wash and steam the tomatoes. Farmers once reached the building with mules carrying woven baskets full of produce. For years, the factory served as a gathering place for islanders, who took immense pride in the singular tomatoes produced from their soil.
Domati Santorini are uniquely marked by the island’s climate and geology. Santorini sits on an active volcano, whose 1646 BC eruption covered the island in rich volcanic ash. The local tomatoes’ sweet flavor, strong aroma, and thin skin come from nutrients in the ancient ash. The already concentrated flavor made exceptional paste, or pelte, and tomato factories flourished from the 1920s to 1970s. The tomato business has since declined, but the iconic crop is still a pillar of Santorini cuisine and its history comes alive at the Tomato Industrial Museum.