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headers_center1 Sights headers_center2
Below you can find the most famous sights in Elounda village such us:

Olous - The sunken city , Spinalonga , The early - Christian Basilica 

if you click in each sight you can find a small description.


Olous - The sunken city

"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.  

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Spinalonga


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.    

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The early - Christian Basilica


Besides, upon the mosaic and near the dolphins, where other inscription were found, many names of co-donors were written, such as the name or Iliodoros, who maybe, was the maker of the mosaic. The various archeological researches, realised by different times showed that the temple of the early-Christian Basilica was built during the byzantine period, which means after the destruction, first or the Roman and then of the Greek Olous.   The architectural style, prevailing in this area, is the style of the Basilica. The application of this style gives a rectangular shape, which is seperated, inside, by columns and at the eastern side a circular apse is protruding.   There is a belief, that the Basilica of Olous was founded upon the ruins of a Roman temple. With the predominence of the Christianism, Christians prefered to build their churches upon the foundations or idolatrous temples by bringing about the necessary changes. So was done, with the Roman temple, from which a nave (used   for   the   veneration   of   a   Roman   God),   had remained. To this nave, Christians added two others isles.   Morphologicaly, the Basilica of Olous was divided, in 3 naves. The one in the middle was the highest. The columns were dominating from the east to the west side, and they were made from local black stones, which were abudant in the region. The result, was a luxurious church and the only witness today is its mosaic floor, which was representing flowers and dolphins. This type of Basilica presents different variations in relation with the period, and specially, with the areas where it appeared first. The difference between the regions, as it is believed, was reflected in the architectural style, as well as in the other branches of art. Regarding to the basic parts, which composed the edifice of Olous Basilica, we are not in position to know any details.   However, it is possible to determine, approximately, the size and the general composition of the building. In conclusion we could say that the early Christian churcn of Olous was a remarkable work of three-naves, Basilica style.    

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