In Crete, we are blessed to live in a place, which is the birthplace of olive cultivation, which history began from the ancient time of the Minoan civilization.
Wherever you look at in Crete, you will see an olive tree. There are many, but not all are the same. In Crete there are three well-established varieties of olives. Each variety varies in taste, calories and nutrients. The differences in the nutrients mainly concern quantities and antioxidant action. Studies have shown that Cretan olives have more types of antioxidants, especially 19 kinds of polyphenols.
Koroneiki or Psilolia
It is the most famous variety of fine olive oil production, occupying 60% of Greek production. It has small size fruits and ripen from October to December. It is known as a very productive variety, resistant to dry and hot conditions and the content of the olive oil is 27%. The tree needs little care and can withstand low temperatures.
Chondrolia or Throumbolia
Grown extensively in Greece for the production of olive oil and table olives. The tree reaches a height of 5-10 meters and the fruit content in olive oil reaches 28%. The fruit of Chondrolia during ripe stage on the tree loses part of its humidity and oleuropein, a substance responsible for the bitter taste of olives. Variety is demanding to moisture and nutrients, and during dry periods it doesn’t fructify.
Tsounati or Mouratolia
This variety blooms from the end of April until the end of May and the fruit ripens from late October until the end of November. Withstand low temperatures produces good quality olive oil. The fruit has a medium oil content close to 25% and requires good soil and cultivation.
Cretan olive oil has to be the very valuable in the world as it is still hand harvested using traditional methods to produce the olive oil and is entirely organic. The unpolluted Greek island is the ideal setting for truly wonderful tasting and nutritious Cretan olive oil to be produced.
Most of scientific research on nutritional habits conducted on a world-wide scale, has concluded that the Cretan diet is the most representative example of the Mediterranean diet. The inhabitants of the island of Crete have the lowest level of cardiovascular diseases and cancer-related deaths in the world. Research comparing the life expectancy of 7 industrialized nations across decades has shown that the inhabitants of Crete had a longer life-expectancy than other industrialized nations. Scientists concluded that the life-expectancy was directly related with nutrition.
What is the secret of Cretan health and longevity?
Crete has one of the oldest culinary traditions in the world. The people of Crete consume mainly the local produce. Their diet includes, in abundance, plant foods, such as greens, vegetables, legumes, herbs and fruits, and less eggs, dairy products, fish and meats. Cretans also often drink locally produced wine.
The most important element in Cretan diet is Olive Oil. The consumption of olive oil, either raw to season salads or on a piece of bread, or used for cooking, is directly related with the good health of the inhabitants of Crete.
Olive Oil is a key element in Cretan and Greek cuisine and is used instead of animal fat, such as butter. The nutritional value of olive oil is among the highest, as it is one of the most important antioxidant natural foods. Olive Oil, in contrast to other vegetable oils is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, which are resistant to oxidation and reduce the amount of LDL cholesterol in the blood, without affecting the amount of HDL cholesterol, which protects against atherosclerosis.
The fact that the people of Crete live longer and have one of the lowest levels of disease-related deaths, which plague the Western world, is, without doubt, related to the fact that they are the biggest consumers of Olive Oil in the world.
As I promised on our Facebook page Tours on Crete when posting an article about olive oil and how many fake and low quality oil is offered in our supermarkets, today I’d like to speak about Cretan olive oil and it’s history.
Oldest Olive tree
The olive tree has been declared by the Association of Cretan Olive Municipalities as a natural monument because of its shape and the exceptional aesthetics of its relied truck, reminiscent of exceptional woodwork.
The tree is located at Ano Vouves and belongs to Panagiotis Karapatakis. Its variety is called mastoid and is grafted on a rootstock of a wild olive tree. From this tree, the winner of the men’s’ marathon in the Olympic Games Athens 2004 was crowned.
The trunk at a height of 0.9m from the ground has a diameter of 3.70m and a circumference of 8.10m, while its base has a diameter of 4.53m and a circumference of 12.55m. Locals say that the olive is the oldest in the world, but this is not true as the olive tree at Azorias is older.
Made from the natural juice of the olive, olive oil is truly a precious “elixir” of life, and helps the people of the Island of Crete maintain health and long life, as well as enjoying delicious food!
It’s a great mystery to anyone who has picked an olive from the tree to work out how someone could have thought that this small fruit would be transformed into a delicious meze on its own or into a nutritious tasty, and health giving oil. Even when looking fat and ripe – straight from the tree, it tastes awful!
But someone did work this out! And from its use in ancient times and the results of study after study, the oil that is pressed from the olive has proven to be a precious gift of nature. The ancient land of Crete is home to 30 million olive trees and the Cretans make full use of the abundant fruit and have been cultivating the olive tree since 3500 BC during the early Minoan period. The Minoan palace of Knossos has an olive press room.
Civilization and Olive Oil
The olive is a favourite subject in Minoan art. Olive trees, olive branches and olive blooms are depicted in many wall paintings and relief works, found at the palace of Knossos (1600-1400 BC) and displayed in the Heraclion Museum today.
with olive foliage
|Storage-jar (pithos) from
Of the most well known, is the wall painting depicting an olive tree between wild goats, the relief with the bull and the olive tree at the balcony of the northern entrance of Knossos palace, the wall-painting with “The dance in the Sacred Grove” and other scenes with olive foliage, blooming branch, branches and relief olives.
Olive branches and leaves are often depicted on the vases of the Minoan period. Characteristic examples are to be found in the storage-jar discovered at the small island Psira off the coastline of north-eastern Crete which is decorated with bull’s heads and olive shoots on either side (1600-1500 B.C) as in the cup with the olive branch in bloom from Knossos (1600-1500 B.C), both now displayed in the Heraklion Museum.
|Rushing bull and olive-tree|
The olive was a favourite subject even in the craft of gold-plating in the Minoan period. Characteristic of this is the superb piece of jewellery made up of a bunch of golden olive leaves found in the pre-palatial cemetery on the small island just outside today’s settlement of Mochlos to the north of the village of Lastros in Sitia.
|Olive – trees on the fresco “Dance at the Sacred grove”Knossos|
At the Olympic games that started in 776 B.C, ancient Greeks were crowning the winners with a wreath (“kotinos”) made of branches cutted always off the same wild olive-tree, known as “kallistefanos” (which means “for beautiful wreaths”).
|Wild goats and olive-tree|
Also at the Panathenea games (600 B.C), the winner’s prize was a decorated amphora, full of olive-oil which was produced of the “Mories” (Sacred) olive-trees belonging to Godess Athena.
Today the Cretans still eat far more olive oil than any other people in the world. And as a famous study proved, are the healthiest and longest living people.
Follow us on Facebook or our blog Crete Info to find out more about Cretan olive oil. New post is coming soon
Seaside settlement of Agios Pavlos is located 58 km south of Rethymno, west from Agia Galini, on the edge of Akrotiri Melissa. To get here you have to pass the villages of Akoumia or Saktouria.
Ag. Paulos it is a quite tranquil place, hidden in a windy bay, suitable for family holidays or one day relax. In the bay there is a beautiful beach with deep green waters and a wonderful sandy beach. Nearby there are several rooms for rent and taverns, where basic services (umbrellas, beach bikes, etc.) are provided.
the perfect beach attracts most of the visitors, some of them prefer to visit St. Paul village itself, to have short accommodation and food there. The Akumiani Gialia, is located behind the western edge of the bay and is probably the best beach in Rethymnon area.. You can get there from a path that starts from St. Paul village. According to newer researchers, Saint Paul visited this beach and harbour for the start of his trip to Rome.
Our second and most popular Jeep Safari tour on Crete is tour to Cretan South, to Southern cost of Crete. You will cross all tuhe island over the mountains, on and off road to #feelcrete with us!!!! #toursoncrete #yourtravelguide
Liviko Pelagos or Libyan Sea Tour
Gouves off road
Lagos off road
Nipiditos off road (coffee break )
Off road Afrati
Off road Karavados
Off road Mesi
Off road Hondros
Kerato Kambos (lunch Kastri)
Off road Skinias
Vakiotes off road Avli
Kato Karouzano (coffee break)
Every Tuesday and Friday
Let us take you on an adventure to explore the lesser known side of the island, through the dramatic physical landscapes of its mountains, away from the crowded tourist resorts, into the real heart and soul of Crete.
You will drive mainly on dirt roads only known by the locals, stop for a Greek coffee and
refreshments in a tiny typical village kafenion, and more off road through villages and mountains until we reach the breath taking south coast, were we will enjoy a light lunch.
We then return north through the mountains again. Prepare yourself for a real Cretan massage!(Bumpy off road!) A last coffee/refreshment stop in the little traditional village of Kato Karouzano and you will return to your hotels full of dust and the best memories of your vacation.
Remember to bring sun protection, swimming
suit and beach shoes, and some pocket money, since the drinks are not included.
Our mission is to discover the Real Crete from the sea up to the mountains and follow the local lifesftyle, the Cretan culture, the history, the values, the traditions, and visit pure-untouched areas. Jeep Safari gives you opportunity to see Crete soul and life which is far away from touristic resorts.
The first tour we would like to represent is
(follow us and we will post about all jeep safari tours we can offer)
Oros Ida (Psiloritis)
Off road Keramoutsi
Kroussona ano Asites (coffee break)
Prinias (Archeological site)
Off road Psiloriti
Anogeia (Lunch) in a taverna
Off road Kamarioti
Off road Fodele(coffee break)
Back to the hotels
JEEPSAFARI OROS IDA (PSILORITIS)
The Psiloriti is the tallest andwildest mountain of Crete. This tour is the jewel of all tour and will give you a taste of all the wild beauty to be discovered inside the most impressive and remote department of central Crete, the Psiloriti mountains.
You will reach heights of 1700 M. and feel like you’re about to touch the sky! The off road known only by the shepherds will take you to the very heart and soul of this magnificent countryside, with breath taking sights that will make your heart
sing and though it may be a bit of a bumpy ride, (the famous Cretan massage…) it is so worth your while! We will stop for a tasty lunch in the traditional village of Anogeia and go again on the wild dirt road until we reach the adorable village of Fodele, birth place of the renowned painter El Greco for the last coffee break.
This tour will be unquestionably the best memory of your vacation in Crete.
More jeep tours HERE
if you are in search of the best beaches to visit in Crete, here is our first suggestion: Agiofarago beach.
Located about 80km south of Heraklion city, at the exit of the homonym Gorge of Agiofarago, clear blue waters await you!
The beauty of the place exists to its not so easy access as if you want to go, you should either hike for approximately 50′ the gorge or catch a boat from Matala, Agia Galini, or Kali Limenes.
Agiofarago Gorge, one of the special gorges In Crete, is located in Heraklion, between the Monastery of Odigitria and the seaside village Kaloi Limenes. It will take you about 20 minutes to cross. At the beginning of the route, you will see the church of Agia Kyriaki which is in a cave! In the gorge is also the church of St. Anthony which is also partly in a cave and was the center of the ascetics of the region. The several archaeological findings in Agiofarago, show that there has been activity in the Minoan and Venetian times. Characteristic is the Minoan, circular, domed tomb near the church of St. Anthony. Shortly after, you will find a cave with a low entrance and a large room. The Abbot of the Monastery of St. Anthony lived there.
According to history, Agiofarago was inhabited by hermits since at least the 11th century. When you cross the gorge you will reach a beautiful beach overlooking the Libyan Sea! We recommend good to keep water with you, as in the gorge there are no sources of water.