Tour of Crete

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Elounda

Elounda is located in north eastern Crete in the Lasithi prefecture, just 8 kilometres from Aghios Nikolaos. It was once a small fishing village, but a few years ago a number of large, luxury hotel complexes were built here, transforming the region into one of the islands major tourist destinations.

Elounda 2The town lies on the shores of a lagoon that contains the sunken remains of the lost city of Olous, which was built on the neck of land that joins Crete with the peninsula of Spinalonga. On days when the water is calm, the few remnants of the walls of this ancient city can be seen beneath the waves. In summer, there are opportunities to join organised scuba diving expeditions.

Past the  Two windmills and the causeway to Spinalonga. there is a small, sign for a Byzantine mosaic. Take the path and just past a small taverna, look over a low wall of rough stones, and you will find a beautiful, Byzantine mosaic. This is all that remains of the basilica of Olous which once stood on the site.

At the entrance of the bay is the small island of Spinalonga. In antiquity it was the location of the fortress of the Olounites later in 1579 the Venetians built another fortress here. The island remained under Venetian rule, even after the Ottoman occupation of Crete in 1669. It acted as a safe refuge of Ottoman families during the last years of the Ottoman occupation. In 1903, it was appointed as a colony for the lepers of Crete. The 13th Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities carried out some restoration work to the buildings on the island, and today Spinalonga is one of the main tourist attractions of the area.

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Keeping the hotels company are a large number of taverns, bars and coffee shops. The centre of activities during the day revolve around the busy harbour, and a good sandy beach offering excellent water sport facilities. The beach is considered by some to be the best on Crete, although it can become very crowded during the height of the season.

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