Elounda is a picturesque fishing village well known for its luxurious hotels, taverns by the sea shore, bars, and beaches.
It is part of the municipality of Agios Nikolaos, the prefecture of Lassithi and 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, located on an island officially named Kalydon.
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 neary fishing village of Plaka, which overlooks the island of Spinalonga and the Kolikithia Peninsula, can be reached a mere 3 km from the main square of Elounda heading north away from Agios Nikolaos.
Agios Nikolaos is a coastal town on the Greek island of Crete, and is the capital of theprovince of Lassithi.
It is east of the island’s capital Heraklion, north of the town of Ierapetra and west of the town of Sitia.
In the year 2000 the Municipality of Agios Nikolaos which includes part of the surrounding villages counted about 19,000 inhabitants.
The name Agios Nikolaos means Saint Nicholas. The stress lies on the third syllable of the word “Nikolaos”.
Note that Agios Nikolaos or Ayios Nikolaos is a common place name in Greece and Cyprus, since Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors and of all of Greece.
Agios Nikolaos is probably best known as a tourist town that serves as a hub to the twenty or so small villages and farms that make up that part of Lassithi.
Tourist attractions include the small lagoon Lake Voulismeni, small beaches in the town, the tiny island Agioi Pantes, the archaeological museum, the local flora exhibition “Iris” and numerous fairs.
There are many beautiful spots in Agios Nikolaos. The lagoon features a small park with a trail, traditional fishing boats, ducks, pigeons, an amphitheatre and many cafès.
Agios Nikolaos is accessible from the mainland and the whole of Europe through Heraklion airport “Nikos Kazantzakis”.
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.