Elounda is located on the east coast of Crete and is famed for its luxury 5 star hotels built on the beaches of Elounda and into the hills.
Once a quiet fishing village Elounda is now home to the major luxury hotels and 5 star hotels, offering only the best of Cretan hospitality. Elounda was the first place in the whole of Crete to have a luxury 5 star hotel, this led to a building boom within this small village which turned it into the lively cosmopolitan resort it is today.
What attracts people to the town of Elounda apart from the lovely scenery and beaches is the local history, the laid back nightlife where you can sit and enjoy a cocktail or two in its designer bars. Another big factor in the success of Elounda has to be the influx of Hollywood stars who regularly holiday here over the summer months.
General information about Elounda
Elounda is located to the north of Agios Nikolaos just 10 km away and is built facing into the Gulf of Elounda overlooking Mirambello Bay. Elounda takes its name from the ancient settlement of Elounda which hold a great place in Minoan and Ancient Greek history.
The four villages of Elounda are spread out along the lower slopes of the approach to the Massif they include Pano and Kato Elounda, Mavrikiano and the new area of Skisma, the port of Elounda.
The one that attracts the most tourists is the port of Elounda, it provides you with some excellent photographic opportunities and a chance to dine in some excellent fish Taverns.
A brief history of Elounda dating back to 1210 states that the Venetians ruled over Crete and ran many salt mines in the area. And under constant threat from the Turks they rebuilt the imposing fortress of Spinalonga. During the Venetian occupation they built many churches all over the island, some can still be seen today including The Church of the Virgin Mary in Druvalia, Agios Paraskevi in Tsifliki and Agios Marinas in Plaka. Around 1669 the Turks captured Crete and ruled right the way through until they were overthrown by the Cretans.
A point to note in this occupation that Spinalonga Island held out for 46 years before finally being taken by the Turks.
Elounda has also been written about in books and captured on film, the novel written by Victoria Hislop entitled “The Island” was based around Elounda. The popular BBC series of “Who pays the Ferryman” in the late 70’s and also the lesser known Disney film “The fringes of the Moon” was filmed in and around Elounda.
For a better look at the stunning views of Elounda and into the port of Elounda take a look at the photos supplied by holidaymaker´s over the years capturing Elounda at its best. Also further down you will find some videos of Elounda to get a feel for the town before you go on holiday to Elounda.
Below you can find information of the beaches of Elounda and the surrounding area, also a brief but excellent guide on the restaurants of the area. At some point you must try the floating restaurants on the port of Elounda and watch the sunset.
Beaches of Elounda
Elounda has some very nice beaches with some even winning the blue flag award for cleanliness among other things. The Elounda Mare hotel which has Elounda beach has won the blue flag award for the past 10 years. But you can also try the beaches in Plaka which face the amazing island of Spinalonga, Plaka beach a lively and clean beach with lovely white sands.
Most of Elounda’s beaches come as part of the hotels that are built near them but free to access you usually have to pay for the sunbeds on a daily or weekly basis. For refreshments you will find plenty of Taverns and beach side cafe’s offering all manner of drinks and great snacks.
The history of Elounda
> 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.