The Ancient Olive Tree of

Vatolakos

Vatolakkos olive tree
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The Elevated  Olive Tree at Vatolakkos is the only tree that has been preserved up to now from the many "elevated" olives of its kind, which surrounded the village. The tree has been declared monumental by the Association of Olive Municipalities of Crete due to its connection to the local religious traditions, but also for its special shape and age that is estimated to exceed 2000 years. It is a tree of the variety mastoidis, which is locally called tsounati and was grafted on a rootstock of a wild olive.

The trunk of the tree has many grooves and holes, which are associated with older religious rites. In the past, during a special ceremony which was attended by many residents, the priest of the village opened in the trunk a hole in which he placed incense and closed it afterwards with some closure (i.e. cork). In this way, the tree obtained sanctity for the villagers who respected it and made the sign of the cross when passing near it or at times they offered incense. When people tried to cut it, they did not manage it, because their saws broke. Today there truck has an evident saw mark.

The name elevated olive probably comes from the religious elevation term, which refers to the small seal in the centre of the oblation bread, because the bread rises from the Holy Prothesis in the Orthodox faith. This elevation was placed in holes of trees, which were then called elevated, in order to seal it and avert any epidemic disease which might have threatened the village.

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