History of Elounda


Ancient Olous

This place was settled in an organized fashion from Minoan times. Olous was one of the most important of the hundreds of cities of ancient Crete with more than 30000 inhabitants. It was located on the Isthmus where the island of Hersonissus, opposite, unites with the main land mass of Crete. During ancient times, the isthmus was wider and at a higher level. It was cut off during 1897-98 by the French during their command of Mirambello, shortly before Crete became self governed. The governmental system, or rules of law, of Olous, was a type of democracy. Here they worshiped the gods Tallaios, Zeus, Apollo and Vristomartis, the latter to whom a temple was dedicated. To honor them, they used to do the “talladutes” games in the nude, and also the “vristmatia” games. They also worshipped Hesculapius who had saved the town from an unknown disease that had plagued the Oloudians.

According to the narrations of various travelers of ancient times, we learn that the inhabitants had a social and professional level of development. From inscriptions that have been found, it is suggested that they were engaged in trade, with maritime affairs and in crushing shells to make colours and paints. They were also involved in the mining of whetting stones.

Olous disappeared either because of a landslide or as result of the large earthquake of 780 A.D. Many ancient artifacts and inscriptions have been discovered from here, most of which are on display in the archaeological museum of Agios Nikolaos, or at The Louvre.

Olous used to have its own currency. Sborous accounts for eleven different types of coins, most of them depicting Vritomaris Artemis on the one side, and Zeus as an eagle, dolphin or star on the other.

The prosperity of Olounda continued on until the first Byzantine period. This fact is revealed by the church at Poros, with its great mosaic, which can be visited today, and by the church of kolokytha with its beautiful white marble.

At Leroklis, (the Book of Sinekdinos), you can find Olous under the name of Aligos. Darkness, however, shrouds the following years between the ninth and thirteenth centuries.

Venetian Period

In 1210, the Venetians occupied the island. The first mention of the name Elounda is found on a document from 1376. The Venetians operated the salt mines, and under threat of danger from the Turks, rebuilt the fortress of Spinalonga in 1579.

Many churches were erected during the latter Venetian occupation: Analipsis, Aghios Georgios in Katevati, the church of the Virgin Mary in Druvalia, Aghios Paraskevi in Tsifliki and Aghios Marinas in Plaka.

Turkish domination

In 1669, the Turks captured the town of Handakas and became the rulers of Crete. Spinalonga would resist for 46 years more, until 1715 when the Turks took it. Here, revolutionaries found a refuge, and because of that event, the Turks forbade the expansion in the wider area of Spinalonga.

This prohibition, as well as fear of pirates, caused the inhabitants who stayed in the small cattle settlements there to be extremely cautious. O regularized in the middle of the 18th century.

We are informed by the traveler Pasley that in 1834, Elounda had 40 families, and that most of them came from Fourni. Elounda was burned down in 1823 by Hasan Pasha. The inhabitants played an active role in the revolt to overthrow the Turks, as did the cutting off of the fortress of Spinalonga. The contribution and sacrifices of the Eloundians for the liberation of Hirrus, Macedonia and Thrace were significant.

Spinalonga

Spinalonga is an island fortress on the south western entrance to the Gulf of Elounda. It is 5.6km away from Skisma. On the rocky island of Spinalonga, a fortress was built even from ancient ages to protect the port of the ancient Eloundians. It is reported that many Christians from the surrounding village took refuge in the ruins to save themselves during the time that the Saracens overtook Crete.

In 1579, the Venetian rulers built the most powerful fortress that we can admire today for the safety of the port of Elounda, to enclose the area at the entrance to every hostile ship. In 1630, the fortress seemed to be impregnable. In 1715, the Kapoudan Pasha, the Turkish captain, besieged it at close quarters and took it. During the 1821 Revolution, it was a safe haven for many Turks, and during the 19th century it was the main port which was importing and exporting goods fr the entire region of Mirambello.

In 1881, it had 1112 Ottoman inhabitants who were involve in commerce, and they comprised the local council. During the revolution of 1821, 1866 and 1897, it was besieged by Cretan rebels. By decision of the State of Cretan, from 1904 Spinalonga was used as a gathering point and place of refuge for Cretans suffering from leprosy. For a half century, this barren rocky outcrop had been host to life’s outcasts who lived out a drama of human pain at the height of their tragedy. Here they found their life’s end as well as the paradise of their dreams. With the progress of science, a cure was found to put an end to the misery of these lepers, and the hospital was dissolved in 1957.

Spinalonga is a recognized archaeological site, and constitutes an identified historical grouping, one of the few samples of the art of Venetian island fortification and fortress-building in the Eastern Mediterranean. Every year over 30000 Greek and foreign tourist visit this sight, from April through October.

Elounda – History, Historical Sights

Once upon a time, there were two cities. The ancient city of Olous, down in the valley, near the sea, and the ancient city of Oxa, high up on the mountain. Both these cities are dated into Minoan times, and their remains still can be seen. Well, The Olous residents lived on fish, where as the oxa people lived off the land and goats. There used to be a bit of trading going on between them, but all in the favor of the milk. Well the people of Olous got a bit jealous, so they decided that they would conquer Oxa. There was a small problem though. The city of Oxa was on a mountain, so to attack those in wars would be difficult.

There was a custom. If a citizen of Oxa were to trespass in to the area of Olous, the king of Oxa had to go personally and apologize to the king of Olous, and vice versa. Therefore,the devious King of Olous thought up a terrific plan. Three days later, a young man from Olous, apparently hunting, trespassed into Oxa land. The Oxa king demanded of the king of Olous to come all the way up the mountain and apologise. The king of Olous mounted his donkey and went up the old beaten track, accompanied by two servants and two soldiers. He knocked on the front door and was welcomed into the palace, to apologize.

While every ones eyes were turned upon the king of Olous, the army of Olous had sneaked round the back, and was preparing their attack. As the king of Olous left via the front door, now a friend once more and loaded with gifts of goat’s meat and milk and wheat, the army attacked from the back. Obviously, the army of Olous won. They gained the land, the goats and the few remaining people of oxa fled, to another island, before they left though they hid something, somewhere. In addition, this brings us the legend of the nine wells. In our days there are to small islands close to Crete one name Naxos and another names Axos, we often wonder if these people that fled from their home town of Oxa, are now the proud residents of these islands.

The Legend of the Nine Wells of Elounda Crete

There was once an ancient Minoan city located high in the mountains above Elounda Crete.
Once upon a time, there were two cities. The ancient city of Olous, down in the valley, near the sea, and the ancient city of Oxa, high up on the mountain.

Both these cities are dated into Minoan times, and their remains still can be seen. Well, The Olous residents lived on fish, where as the oxa people lived off the land and goats. There used to be a bit of trading going on between them, but all in the favor of the milk. Well the people of Olous got a bit jealous, so they decided that they would conquer Oxa. There was a small problem though. The city of Oxa was on a mountain, so to attack those in wars would be difficult. There was a custom. If a citizen of Oxa were to trespass in to the area of Olous, the king of Oxa had to go personally and apologize to the king of Olous, and vice versa. Therefore,the devious King of Olous thought up a terrific plan. Three days later, a young man from Olous, apparently hunting, trespassed into Oxa land. The Oxa king demanded of the king of Olous to come all the way up the mountain and apologise. The king of Olous mounted his donkey and went up the old beaten track, accompanied by two servants and two soldiers. He knocked on the front door and was welcomed into the palace, to apologize. While every ones eyes were turned upon the king of Olous, the army of Olous had sneaked round the back, and was preparing their attack. As the king of Olous left via the front door, now a friend once more and loaded with gifts of goat’s meat and milk and wheat, the army attacked from the back. Obviously, the army of Olous won. They gained the land, the goats and the few remaining people of oxa fled, to another island, before they left though they hid something, somewhere. In addition, this brings us the legend of the nine wells.

In our days there are to small islands close to Crete one name Naxos and another names Axos, we often wonder if these people that fled from their home town of Oxa, are now the proud residents of these islands.

This was a very rich city as they traded on crops and goat’s meat and milk. When one day their neighboring city attacked them and threw them from their homes, they hid all the gold and treasure in a well. On this mountain, there were nine wells. They covered them all up and fled. Till this day, thousands of people have searched for this well. Sheppards in the mountains, local men, even the Nazis in the occupation of Crete searched for the treasure hidden in this well. Up to this day only eight wells have been found, the ninth, which contains the treasure, is still well hidden. Therefore, if you are ever up on this mountain, look around and see if you can find the ninth well.

Mount Oxa is above the small fishing village of Elounda on the northern coast of Kreta Crete. To get to Mount Oxa you need to pass Elounda skisma (main town square) Kato Elounda (the lower original village of Elounda) Pano Elounda (the upper original village of Elounda) and climb high into the Kreta mountains. The myth of the 9 wells of Oxa was so well known that the Nazis in the second world war decided to march into the mountains to find the lost well and the treasures that the priests stored there for safety. Needless to say, even the Nazis couldn’t find the ninth well! I frequently climbed Mount Oxa and could never find more than 5 wells! Perhaps you can?

Beaches


Visitors can enjoy the sea while enjoying a swim in the crystal waters of the beaches of Elounda, which are awarded annually by the European Union’s Blue Flag.

Right in front of our hotel.

Adjacent to the harbour is the municipal beach, a well-organized long beach ideal for water sports, with taverns and cafes next to that gathers every year thousands of visitors.

East of Elounda 200 meters are the winners of the blue flag beach Hiona and Poros.

Another beach for swimming in Tsifliki, 2 km away, overgrown with trees and two pebble beaches of Plaka village with its crystal clear waters.

By car, leaving the channel through a dirt road will take you to the church of St. Luke. From there descend to walk down the beach Pumpkin with green water.