The ancient city of Oloundas
Oloundas was one of the hundred cities in ancient Crete, built in Poros, the isthmus connecting Crete with the peninsula opposite it. It became very prosperous during the archaic period (as demonstrated by the excavations at the pit of the sanctuary of Elounda) and its prosperity continued during the Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods. Today, a large part of the ancient city of Oloundas is submerged by the sea, but some parts of it can be distinguished close to the church of Analipsi (Ascension).
For 7 consecutive centuries the Elounda salt pans played an important role in sustaining and ensuring the survival of the locals. These monuments attesting to the local history are in the western section of ancient Olous. Created by the Venetians in the 13th century, they continued to operate until 1973 when they fell into disuse. Today the salt pans constitute a unique eco-system - a natural fish hatchery and a sanctuary for many species of migratory birds.
The canal cutting works were inspired and executed mainly by the French governor of Spinalonga (Emile-Amédée Dupourqué).
The work began on 27-2-1897 and was finished in the spring of the following year. Subsequent to its completion maritime trade developed between Spinalonga - Elounda and Agios Nikolaos, whereas nowadays the canal facilitates the navigation of fishing and tourist boats.
The mills by the Canal were built in 1920 and were the pre-industrial "factories" for the production of flour, the main ingredient for the production of the most basic form of sustenance, bread. During their time of operation (1920-1980) they were a meeting place for people from the neighbouring villages thus contributing towards the social contact, informing and recreation of the inhabitants of the area.
One of the oldest (5th C AD) and most beautiful monuments in our region is the Early Christian Basilica which lies in the area of ancient Olous about 100 metres east of the canal. The remains denote the shape of this large church of which only the marvellous mosaic floor has survived.