“Olous” was considered one of the most important towns of Crete. Olous, the history of which is discovered by different inscriptions, flourished, specially, during the minoan era [3000 – 900 D.C.). The ruins of the ancient town are still visible today at the channel of “Poros”! Pausanias, an ancient writer, reports that in his time, the 2na century A.D., Olous was among the cities which were odorating the statue of Vritomartis, one of the Dedalos works. The inscriptions found, replace the silence of the scriptures regarding this ancient town. In one of these inscriptions (probably the 3rd cent. A.D.], is mentioned the treaty of friendship with the LATO neighbourhood, though another one reports the agreement of 134 B.C. between Olous, Lato and Knossos and by which Knossos was recognised as the unique umpire for any difference between them.
In 1937, the french archeologist. H. Van Effenterre found upon the arch, of the early Christian basilica of Olous, a piece of inscription containing the end of the conventional alliance between Olous and Rhodes. In 1960, the professor A. Orlandos found, in one of his excavations, the completing piece to this inscription, which is now shown in the museum of Ag. Nikolaos. This inscription was written in a common dorian dialect. The convention, (as mentioned above), was humiliating for the inhabitants of Olous, because they were undertaking a lot of obligations for Rhodes. Also the convention between Rhodes and lerapitna is approximately of the same kind and the same era [200 D.C.). By these conventions, Rhodes wanted to assure the control of eastern Crete so, to close the road to smugglers, which were suported by Philip E’ of Makedonia. Later on, after the Dorians conquered Crete, the town existing of 30.000 inhabitants, relieved their supply of water by sources which are siill there today. In Olous, they were honoured talleos Zeus, Mars [Aris] and Artemis Vritomartis. Olous, also, as a self-govering town and center of exportation to the east and to Ionian Ports, had its own currency. The historian Svoronos tells of 1 ] types of decimals which represented either Artemis, Zeus beholding the eagle, the dolphin or the star with 8 points and the word olondion.
One other known town, during the same period, was Naxos. Some ruins, and specially some tanks, are found today at the top of the mountain Oxa, which is taken from the word Naxos. It is said that the town was built by Naxos, son of Akakallidas, doughter of Minos and that its colonies reached to the island of Cyclades, which has the same name today. Now, regarding the destruction of Olous, the reasons and the period of destruction are not known. The different researches show that the town was existing during the Greek, Roman and I5′ Byzantine period (824 A.D.). The 2nd Byzantine period was destructive for, almost, all the towns of Crete. From 824 to 901 the inner problems of the Byzantine state and rhe opposition of the rebel, genera Thomas, to the emperor Michael B1, gave the opportunity to Sarrasis, [Arabs) lo occupy Sicilli and Crete. Gortys was destroyed, and the new capital “Handax” (Heraklion) was built. Handax became the center of the sarassins attacks. The Christians of Crete were persecuted without mercy and the island, for one and a half century, suffered from the sarassin ‘s ferocity, to which Nikiforos Fokas put to an end. Today, at the location “Nikiforos Fokas”, opposite the island Kolokitha, are still visible, the ruins of the Byzantine church, built in honour of N. Fokas, before his journey to Egypt. Olous, didn’t escape from the sarassins destruction because it was near to the sea and so, therefore, an attractive target to the arabic smugglers. The Arabs dominated Crete from 824 till 961. During the Venetian occupation (124O-121OJ the channel was seperated. The salt-works begun to function and the first fortress of Spinalonga was built. By the Turkish occupation, the village was destroyed , and almost desert in 1898. The English , the French and the Russians put Turkish domination to an end. After this time. the village was repossessed by its inhabitants. The French again separated the channel , and as a result in 1913 , Crete united with Greece.
This rocky island is located at the north – west opening of the Elounda Gulf. In 1954, for reasons unknown, the island, by decree, was re-named “KALIDON”. The fortress, which already existed in ancient times, was built to protect the port of the ancient town, Olous! It is reported that, among its ruins, many Christians, later, found refuge from the sarassins. Remains of the fortress, were then discovered by the Venetian architect, during his visit to the island in 1574 in order to construct a new fortress.In the Venetian museum, the original wooden model of the structure is preserved. In the old Venetian documents, relating to the name of the island, if was designated as “STINELONDA”, as meaning in Greek: “Go to Elounda”. Since the Venetians cojld no! understand fhis expression, they adapted (t in their language, as Spina (thorn) Longa [long). In fact at the time, fhere was an island near fo Venice itself, with the name Spinalonga, but, which is now named, today, Giudecca, Since then, this name is used by the locals too. The fortress of Spinalonga was one of the most powerful! of Crete and some were even considering it to be untouchable. Its armament, in 1030, was beholding 35 canons in different diameters. After the integral occupation of Crefe in 1609, the fortress of Spinalonga remained under the Venefian domination, for almost half a century. Many Christians found fhere, a refuge escaping from me Turks. In 1715, the Turks, by capitulation, occupied the fortress and undertook the obligation to bring the guard and the inhabitants to the island of Corfu, only loter fo befray them.
During the last years of the Turkish domination, the fortress became a secure place for Turkish families, who had good reason fo fear the Christian reprisals. In 1834, 80 Othoman [Turkish) families were staying on the island and in 1881 fhe 1112 Othomans of Spinalonga were forming a community. Around I860, another 1000 Turks, from the regions Mirabello, Sitia and lerapefra, for reasons of security, also joined the island. In May 1807, the Turks embarked on the main land and attacked the guard of the greek rebels, unsuccessfully. Spratt, the navigator, compares the fortress of Spinalonga to a small Giblaitar. He menfions, also, that the Venefians used, for its consfruction, raw materials found on Elounda (stones, whetstones e.t.cj. In the fortress, ilself, the duke Giac Barbaro built there wind-mills so to grind the cereals for the guard. The main entrance of the fortress is simple and imposing, and upon the arch there is the inscription: LVCAS (MIC(HAEL) PRO(VISOR) GE(NERALIS) R(EGNI) CRfETAE] II AN(NO) in honour of Lucas Michael, who founded the fortress, in 15/6/1579. In 1903, the last Turks abandoned the fortress and since then, Spinalonga became a place of martydom. The same year, by decision of the Crelan goverment, Spinalonga was designafed as a place of con centra lion and residence for the lepers of Crele, who, till then, were kept at Miskinias, a place near to Heraklion. In 1913, when Crete united wifh Greece, all lepers from all over the country joined fhe island. There are many things said for the intolerable conditions of living and the deprivation of basic needs, from which lepers were suffering. However, in 1957 the isolation came to an end and the state broughf the last lepers of Spinalonga to the community of Agia Varvara (near Athens], since the illness was fhen curable. Around 1980, the community of Elounda undertook, in cooperation wifh the Greek Tourist Board (EOT], the first works of reconstruction on fhe island.