Olive and olive oil are very important products in Crete.


Olives have been growing in Crete since the beginning of time,
and as the trees can reach an advanced age,
you see many magnificent specimens all over the island.


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The olive is a 10-15 m high evergreen tree, but you seldom see trees that high, as they are being pruned - partly to make the fruit picking easier and partly to make the tree give a better yield.



The olive's great importance to the population of the Mediterranean countries made it already early in history a symbol of peace and wealth. The ancient Greek goddess Athena had in this way the olive as one of her attributes. The Bible also refers to the tree on several occasions - factually and symbolically.



An olive does not bear fruit until it is about 10 years old. Therefore the Cretans usually say that they plant new trees for their children and grandchildren, while vines for example - which give a faster yield - are for personal use.

When the tree is about 10 years old, it yields 80 - 300 kg of olives yearly. The amount of fruits varies a great deal from year to year, as the tree has a cycle of two years. The year with the biggest yield is called vendéma.


There are about 20 different sorts of olives, which each bears special fruits differing from the other sorts in size, shape and taste.


In addition to the production of olive oil the tree is used as animal feed (the new shoots), for cabinetmaker trade and also for charcoal

... if it has not burned already, because in summer Crete is often ravaged by fires, and many hectares of olive groves are consumed by these.


One of the oldest olives in Crete - and perhaps in the entire world - is growing in the village of Ano Vouves, about 5 km south of Kolymbari. The tree is thought to be 2.000 years old and has a circumference of no less than 12 m.



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