The Living

Monuments

Either due to their enormous size or following legends, some trees in Crete have been declared natural monuments. Among the most famous of them are the evergreen plane-tree of Ancient Gortys, under which Zeus and Europe mated and, thus, Minos was born.

Many of the monumental trees have been officially designated as monuments of nature by the Greek state. One of them is the oversized hawthorn of Ancient Zominthos. Some other trees have been associated with the struggles of the Cretans for liberation, such as the huge tree of Mandalenis at Korfes, the plane tree of the Pente Parthenes at Ancient Lappa and the oak tree of Ismael at Mathia. Monumental ancient plane trees are met in Krassi, Vlatos and within the monasteries of Saint George Gorgolainis, Saint John at Gionas and Holy Fathers at Azogyres.

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Olive Trees
In Crete there are many ancient olive trees that have been declared monumental by the Association of Cretan Olive Municipalities. The oldest olive trees in the world are located at the location Azorias by Kavoussi and Ano Vouves by Chania. The crowns for the winners of the Women's and Men's marathon at the Olympic Games held in Athens in 2004 were cut from these trees. At Anissaraki by Kandanos we meet an entire park of monumental olive trees, but also in Palea Roumata, Asomati, Ancient...
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Sacred Trees
In the religion of the Minoans, the olive tree had a prominent role as it can regenerate continuously and almost never die. This could symbolize the perpetuation of life through death, like nature. Ancient Greeks used to post dedications on wild olive trees (and other species) to keep evil away. Although all these seem very distant, it is very impressive that even today there are customs that have their roots in the dendrolatric beliefs of antiquity.
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Plane tree of Gortys

Crete hosts an extremely rare and endemic variety of plane trees (Platanus orientalis var. Cretica) with about 50 trees being reported throughout the island. The characteristic feature of this variety is that it is evergreen, unlike the common deciduous plane trees.

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Plane tree of Krassi

In the village square of Krasi, near Malia, there are three plane trees, the trademarks of the village. The most important of them is the platan in the center of the square, which is considered to be the oldest and most majestic of the plane trees in Crete.

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Hawthorn of Zominthos

Zominthos was a small Minoan town at Psiloritis Mount with a sacred spring, which was located close to the Ideon Andron Cave and Anogia town. Besides the religious importance of the town for the ancient Minoans, today the archaeological site of Zominthos hosts a second attraction. This is a special tree that has been declared a protected monument of nature from the Greek Ministry of Culture.

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Madalenis Oak

The oak of Madalenis or Manalenis is located near the village Korfes. This centenarian oak has been declared a natural monument. It is said that under the branches, that today touch the ground due to their size, assemblies of the rebels in the area took place during the Greek revolts.

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Gionas plane tree

This plane tree forms a small oasis in the monastery of Saint John Giona, contrary to the arid and eerie landscape around. It is said that a weird phenomenon takes place here, as the leafs of the plane tree are from the other side than usual.

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Gorgolaini Monumental Trees

The monastery of Gorgolaini hosts two ancient trees that have been declared a nature monuments by the Greek state: a cypress and a plane tree. Both are located at the end of the garden, one next to the other.

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Oak tree of Ismael

The oak tree of Ishmael or Smailis is located near the village Mathia. Under the tree, camped the men of Ismail Selim Pasha on May 19, 1867, before taking part in the great battle of Lassithi Plateau (21-29 May).

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Azogyres plane tree

Below this plane tree, that has been declared as nature monument, the 99 Holy Fathers settled after arriving to Crete from Egypt, Cyprus and Turkey. This is located inside the monastery if the 99 Holy Fathers. They say that its branches form 99 crosses.

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