Become familiar with the world - oldest but still alive, olive tree of Vouves, A symbol of culture and heritage.
With a Greek name “Elia Vouvon” (Greek Ελιά Βουβών), the Monumental Olive Tree of Vouves is among the 20 ancient olive trees of Crete and it is probably the oldest olive trees in the world that still produces olives. There is a dispute on the exact age of this tree. The use of tree ring analysis has proven the tree to be at least 2000 years old, but scientists from the University of Crete have estimated it to be 4,000 years old. Due to its special aesthetic, ecological and historical characteristics the tree was declared a natural monument in 1997. The impressive ‘olive tree of Vouves grows for centuries in the area where now lies the village Ano Vouves, near Kolymvari, 30 kilometers west of Chania. It has a diameter of 4,67 m. and a perimeter of 12,5 m. It started as a wild olive tree and was later domesticated with the ‘tsounati’ olive tree variety.
Olive trees are hardy and drought, disease and fire resistant, part of the reason for their longevity and their widespread use in the region. The natural monument attracts 20.000 visitors each year. The famous olive tree starred in a travel documentary for Crete, broadcasted by German channel Arte/ZDF. The age of the tree was revealed to the journalists by Professor of pomology in the Technological Institute of Crete (TEI), Spyros Lionakis. He said that some of the ancient olive trees of Crete go as far back as the Minoan Age. Besides the famous tree in Vouves there are 10 other ancient trees in the surrounding area. This natural wealth is what the Olive Museum of Vouves tries to preserve and promote the age old relationship of olive tree and man. Located next to the ‘Monumental Olive Tree of Vouves’ the Museum was the vision of Mayor Polychronis Polychronides.
The next step is the conversion of the Museum to an ‘Olive Museum and Mediterranean Centre for the Study of Monumental Olive Trees’. Since 2004, where Olympic games in Athens began, olive branches “kotinos” from the ancient olive tree, are used for the wreath of Marathon winners in every Olympic game.
In 2012, Municipality of Platanias and Terra Creta organized for first time a harvesting event where 55 kgr of olives has been collected and 5.0 kgr of olive oil was produced in a special designed olive mill.
You may visit the olive tree by car (about 40 minutes driving time from the city), heading west from Chania, take the exit to “Tavronitis” and then follow the signs towards “Ano Vouves”, or you may use one of the organized visit through a local travel agent.