Saturday, November 10, 2007
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.
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.
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.
The Historical Museum of Crete presents a comprehensive view of Cretan history from early Christian times to the present day. It was founded in 1953 by the Society of Cretan Historical Studies, which had been established two years earlier. The museum is housed in a two-storey neoclassical building, which was constructed in 1903 on the site of an earlier mansion belonging to the Kalokerinos family. The second building, designed by K. Tsandirakis, was clearly influenced by morphological features of the earlier one, and was later listed as a historical monument. The new museum extension to the west constituted an attempt to combine traditional and modern architecture.
The original goal of those founding the Historical Museum of Crete was to collect and preserve valuable archaeological, ethnographic and historical material deriving from the medieval and modern periods in Cretan history. The process of enriching the collections, extending exhibition space and redefining the museum's aims has never ceased. Prolific research and publishing activity, the organisation of temporary exhibitions, educational programmes and the use of audiovisual media all form part of the modern educational role adopted by the Historical Museum of Crete over time. The same approach also includes the gradual re-organisation of the collections on display so as to appeal to a wider range of visitors, thus offering them the opportunity to understand the many facets of historical development on Crete from early Byzantine times to the present day.
Visitors begin their tour in the A.G. Kalokerinos Room, which presents an overview of Cretan history via representative exhibits from all the collections and chronological periods. The main exhibit is the 4 x 4 metre model of the city of Chandax (Heraklion) in the mid-17th century, at the peak of its power in Venetian times. Visitors can activate forty different spotlights picking out the most important monuments.
The Ceramics and Sculpture Collections, which follow, are organised in chronological order. Starting from the First Byzantine Period, the former ends in the Ottoman period and the latter in the Venetian period. Within this chronological layout there are individual thematic displays (locally-produced and imported ceramics; luxury and everyday ceramics; ecclesiastical and urban architecture; water supply etc.), which offer visitors additional information on the Cretan population's living conditions.
The Historical Museum's Numismatic Collection is particularly rich. Individual coin finds and hoards, banknotes, medals, lead seals, coin jewellery and relevant archive material chart all phases of Cretan economic history from the early Christian period to the 20th century.
In the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Collection visitors can follow the development of art (via fresco fragments and portable icons) and thus come to realise the dynamic co-existence of the native Christian Orthodox population with the Ottoman and Venetian overlords. Piety and Christian worship are manifested in liturgical vessels and vestments, manuscripts, personal belongings and jewellery. The crowning exhibits in this section are two paintings by Domenicos Theotocopoulos (El Greco): The Baptism of Christ (1567) and View of Mt. Sinai and the Monastery of St. Catherine (1570), which are the only works by the artist on display on Crete.
Modern and contemporary Cretan history is divided into four chronological phases and permanent exhibitions, the first being Ottoman Rule, with emphasis on the Muslim presence on the island. This includes objects from secular and religious life (Ottoman wall paintings, inscriptions, architectural elements from Ottoman religious foundations, documents and minor objects). The second concerns the period of revolutionary upheaval in the 19th century, ending with the Union of Crete with Greece. Rich historical material traces revolutionary activity and everyday life at the time (flags, banners, weapons, documents, articles for everyday use, furniture, uniforms, maps, photographs). This section also includes a gallery of portraits of Cretan revolutionaries. The third exhibition relates to the Inter-War Years and the fourth to World War II (the war between Greece and Italy, the Battle of Crete and the National Resistance). Audiovisual material is used here in an attempt to recreate the environment during battles and bombardments. This section is supplemented by the study and library of Emmanouil Tsouderos, then Prime Minister of Greece.
The tour continues in the Nikos Kazantzakis Rooms, with the author's study and library from his house in Antibes, France. Personal mementoes, manuscripts and first editions of his works in many languages complete the picture of his life and creativity.
Ending their tour of Cretan history in the Ethnographic Collection, visitors are introduced to the notion of continuity in time, mainly in rural society, through the survival and repetition of productive processes (olive growing and viniculture, cereal cultivation, animal husbandry) and important milestones in life (birth, baptism, marriage). These human activities are closely bound up with the natural environment and space in which they take place (folk architecture - reconstructed interior of a Cretan agricultural house).
The Library at the Historical Museum of Crete contains rare editions, periodicals, a local newspaper archive, a rich collection of historical archives and photographic material. It is directed at the general public as well as researchers.
Historical Museum of Crete
House A. & M. Kalokerinos
27, Sofokli Venizelou Ave. /
7, Lysimachou Kalokerinou St.
71202 Heraklion, Crete, Greece
Tel: (++30) 2810 283219, 288708
Fax: (++30) 2810 283754