Among the 20 ancient olive trees
of Crete with an age of more than a thousand
years, the famous ‘olive tree of Vouves’ is probably the oldest tree in the
world with an age estimated between 3000 and 5000 years old. The natural
monument attracts 20.000 visitors each year.
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 impressive ‘olive tree of Vouves’ grows for centuries in the area where now
lies the village Ano Vouves, 30 kilometres west of Chania. It has a diameter
of 4,67 m.
and a perimeter of 12,5 m.
And it still produces highly sought after olives! It started as a wild olive
tree and was later domesticated with the ‘tsounati’ olive tree variety.
It is not known how old it is exactly with estimations ranging between 3000 and
5000 years old but it is probably the oldest olive tree in the world and maybe
the most famous one. Due to its special aesthetic, ecological and historical
characteristics the tree was declared a natural monument in 1997.
One of the most famous old trees of any species, the olive tree of Vouves
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. And there
hundreds of younger but still centuries-old olive trees in Crete with
impressive growth; one in the village
of Kouroupes, Rethymno
has a perimeter of 22 m.
A 2000 year old olive tree in Venerato, Rethymno has a perimeter of 18,5 m.
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’. The Municipality has already proceeded to the
buy of a 600 sq m land plot, near to the Museum in addition to other plots it
owns in the area and has began studies for the creation of the expanded Museum.
For the time being the Design & Manufacturing Laboratory of TEI of Crete,
with Dr. Manolis Maravelakis as the head of the effort, has completed the
digital representation of the trunk of the Vouves olive tree. Specifically, a
3D model of the trunk was created that represents with precision the geometry
of both the exterior and interior of the trunk. Modern techniques of reverse
mechanics and 2 laser scanners that are available at the laboratory were used
for the project.