Elounda (Greek: Ελούντα), alternative transliterations Elounta or Elouda, is a small fishing town on the northern coast of the island of Crete, Greece. It is part of the municipality of Agios Nikolaos, until recently (2010) belonging to the prefecture of Lasithi and as of the passage of new legislation, the periphery of Crete.
The road into Elounda from Agios Nikolaos is approximately 12 km in length and follows the shore as it climbs to the top of a small mountain. The view from the top is incomparable; on a clear day it is possible to see the whole of Mirabello Bay and all the way to the eastern tip of Crete.
It is also the closest major town to the former leper colony of Spinalonga (Greek: Σπιναλόγκα), located on an island officially named Kalydon (Greek: Καλυδών). In 1579, the Venetians built a mighty fortress on the island on the ruins of an ancient acropolis. The Venetians kept control of the island even after the rest of Crete fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1669 and it remained under their control for almost another half a century until its capitulation in 1715. Spinalonga island is notable for being the last active leper colony from 1903 until 1957. Today, it is unoccupied and is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the area.
The small fishing village of Plaka (Lasithi), which overlooks the island of Spinalonga and the Kolikithia Peninsula, can be reached a mere 5 km from the main square of Elounda heading north away from Agios Nikolaos. Elounda is a famous tourist attraction, heavily visited by VIPs for its seaside luxury resorts. Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou used to spend his summers in Elounda; today, it is visited almost every year by the royal family of Saudi Arabia. In 1984, the President of France, Francois Mitterrand, and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya met in a luxurious Elounda resort to discuss conflict resolution in Chad.
The earliest recorded settlement at Elounda was the ancient Greek city of Olous, whose people were in intermittent conflict with the citizens of Dorian Lato, until a peace treaty was eventually reached. Elounda has a later history as part of the Venetian era. Elounda has changed considerably during its lifespan. The bulk of the ancient city of Olous was reclaimed by the sea towards the end of the Ancient Greek period and is still visible, in part, when diving in the bay of Elounda.
During the early 1900s, Elounda acted as a stopping off point for lepers being transported to the leper colony at Spinalonga.
Bus services in Elounda are operated by the KTEL (Greek: ΚΤΕΛ) bus company, with scheduled services running to Plaka (Lasithi) and Agios Nikolaos throughout the day.
Elounda was used for the filming of the popular BBC television series Who Pays the Ferryman? in the late 1970s. It is the setting for the Belinda Jones novel Out of the Blue. It features in Victoria Hislop's novel The Island, the novel is also being adapted for Greek television, set to air as a mini series starting in October 2010.
Hislop, Victoria (2005). The Island. Also see the Moonspinners by Disney. Together with 'The Island', by Victoria Hislop there is also available a much more substantial work on the same subject called YANNIS by Beryl Darby who also wrote the first guide book to Spinalonga.
^ Alain Rouvez, Michel Coco, Jean-Paul Paddack, Disconsolate empires: French, British and Belgian military involvement in post-colonial Sub-Saharan Africa, 1994
^ C.Michael Hogan, Lato Fieldnotes, The Modern Antiquarian, Jan 10, 2008
Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Elounda
Municipality of Aghios Nikolaos, Elounda info page
Medieval Greece / Byzantine Empire
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