Saturday, November 10, 2007

Elounda Village

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.

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.
The habitation of the settlements of Pano and Kato Elounda, and Mavrikiano began to be 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 Fouvni.
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.

In Elounda today there are 2,200 inhabitants in six settlements, the majority of whom live in Skisma, and are involved in the tourism business. An event which played an important role in the promotion of Elounda was the filming there of the Disney film "The Fringes of the Moon", in 1964. It is from this time that tourism commenced, but at a gentle pace.
The major push in the development of the tourism industry began with the arrival of Eleni Nakou and the brothers Spiros and George Kokotos. In 1969, the construction of the luxury hotel, The Elounda Beach, started. This was followed by the building of the Asteras, The Elounda Mare, Porto Elounda, The Elounda Peninsula and The Elounda Rock hotels. These luxury hotels annually accommodate prominent representatives of the world’s social, economic and political life.

The people of Elounda, working in cooperation, have brought their athletic and cultural associations to the highest levels. The Development Association of Elounda has been in operation since 1975, and does valuable work on the promotion of the local culture of the area. There is a Cretan Dance and Musical Instrument School, and Eloundans successfully organize a Traditional Fish Festival that takes place in Pano Elounda, and since 1998, a concert in Spinalonga where popular Greek artists perform. Since 1992, the important promotional newspaper "Elounda" has been published.
The Athletic Association "Korfos Elounda" was founded in 1979 and plays a leading part in recent years in Lassithi football, gaining many distinctions.