General Information About Elounda
This is a world renowned tourism resort located to the north of Aghios Nikolaos, having an indented coastline, shaded beaches, crystal clear seas, and a tranquil and heavenly environment.
It is 10km distance from Aghios Nikolaos, and the cutting along the side of the road affords you the opportunity to admire the spectacular view of Mirambello Gulf and Korfos. The village is built on the southern coast of the Gulf of Elounda, 1km east of the ancient settlement of Olounda, from which it has taken its name. This used to be the favored place of legendary figures from Minoan Crete and of historical figures of our times.
The four villages of Elounda are spread out along the lower slopes of the approach to the Massif.
Pano and Kato Elounda, Mavrikiano and the new settlement of Skisma, the port of Elounda, bask in the glorious sea as it opens up before them offering its beauty and charm.
This sea, as described by Mr. Anestis Makridakis, glows like a sapphire under the azure light of the sky, rose-hued in summer afternoons, silvered on moonlit nights. It is a sea whose light infuses you gently but swiftly, having the power to touch you emotionally. To float in this sea, or to observe it from further away is like dreaming with open eyes.
This peaceful sea was used as a stop-over and refueling point during the period between both world wars by the UK’s Imperial Hydroplane Service The divine creator, in joyous and happy time of inspiration and joviality, did not skimp here with the colors, the lines or the boldness of combinations, giving a magical impression to the landscape. Here, lovers of the art of cinema, of the graphic arts, of music and poetry find an exceptional sight.
Elounda is a place-name that is easy to pronounce, but difficult to describe. It is a place that can only be experienced personally, to live forever thereafter in your dreams.
Since postminoan ages, until the turkish occupation, Elounda was the area which is mentioned as one of the most significant cities of Crete. Elounda had several names throughout history, like Olous, Olounda, Hersonisos, Amylka, Amykloion, Kolokytha Olous, Alyggos, Naxos, Axos, Oxa, mountain tallaion, Kadistos. The name, the history and the script of Elounda are not Familiar to us until Monoan ages.
Elounda was said to have been an important commercial-craft industrial harbour, with the excaration of whetstone to be held in from Oloundas quarries. Whetstone was excarated throughout the ancient period and is still being excarated nowdays. Whetstone is mainly used for smoothing metal tools. Homer mentions in his poem “iliad” about the occupation of the ancient citizens of Elounda with whetstone. Ancient Olous was also known for the extraction and trade of purple dye.
Olounda flourished during all historical periods but it’s geographical position forced it to change its appearence, while the civilization of each period vanished with the appearence of the following period. We can consider as proof of this, a temple that is dated from the 5th D.C. century which was constructed over ancient temple.
The construction of the salt works and the Fortress of Spinalonga by the Venetians, was the main reason for the destruction of the buildings. The stones these buildings were made of were used as the material for the construction of the salt works and the fortress of Spinalonga.
The buildings, the coins, the signs, the artifacs and the statues that where found in Olous reveal the High Level and the culture of this city, a big area of it much of wich sunken underwater. We are still not aware about the fortune of the 30.000 inhabitants that lived in Olous. French archeologists claim that Olous flourished as a Minoan city and it is still providing archeological material of great importance. In 1987 the french army dug canal in Poros and in that way the gulf of Mirabello was linked with Corfos.
The archeological findings were not puplished but some of them are kept in the museum of Louvre.Olous was the city that was built in the most marvelous and unigue area of Crete, on the seashore of Mirabello where God and nature used all their craft in order to create this amazing scenery of unparalleled beauty.
The Olous goverment regine was called Eunomia, atype of democracy where the heads of state were named cosmia, and were responsible for the legislature and executive authority.
The cosmia were elected from “Cosmionces” every year, and constituted the collective organ of the state while the leader of the state was called “Protocosmos”.The citizens of Olous worshipped the local godess vritomartis (meaning sweet virgin) while the vritomarteia, a religion Festival was held in her honour, all over Crete.
On the southern side of Elounda, there is the mountain Oxa lay. It is said that in Oxa there was an ancient town called Naxos, where some coins have been found. Still nowadays some stone water tanks have been maintained in good condition as well as considerable sections of Naxos protectiveshield.
The geographical position and the organization of Oxa reveal that it was a powerfull fortress that could intercept every hostile attack.
The majority of the coins that were found represented the godess Vritomarti on one side and the god Zeus on the other. In Spinalonga, the small island that situated on the northen side of the gulf there, were walls that protected ancient Elounda. Traces of the walls existed in the 16th century. Above these walls, the Venetians constructed their own (1579 - 1586) and entrenched the island, which the Turks captured in 1715. Spinalonga, at the early beginning of 19th century was inhabited by turkish people whose main activities were navigation, fishing and trade. In 1834, Spinalonga had 81 muslim families while in 1881 the island’s habitants numbered 1112. In 1900 the number of muslims citizens decreased to 272. The dwellers of Spinalonga abandoned the island in 1904, the year when Cretan authorities transfered lepers there from all over Crete. The leper hospital of Spinalonga closed operating in 1957.
A document from Areti monastery in 1633 mentions “Metohi Eloundas” for first time, while the traveller Paslei mentions that in 1834 Elounda, consisted of 40 christian families. Directly connected with the history of spinalonga and the modern history of Elounda are the villages of Pines, Tsifliki, Plaka, Braxos. Moreover, the former communities of Louma and Skinia had close economic relationships with the above villages especially after the Turkish occupation
In 1928, Elounda was the base of a community with 1506 citizens. From 1928 until 1939 the gulf of Elounda was used as refuelling station for the airplanes of the British airline company Imperial.
In 1941, is was captured by the german and Italian armies and it was converted into one of the most powerful ports. The population of all the villages during the next years (1951,1961) decreased significatly due to immigration. In 1969 the construction of the first large hotel, the Elounda Beach, begansimultaneously, the development of Elounda began, and thus the area was converted into a unique and model tourist resort of Greece.