Mana Elia, ancient olive tree

Mana Elia, "Mother Olive Tree", in Kamilari south Crete

Nestled within the charming village of Kamilari, Crete, stands a testament to the enduring spirit of the island – the Monumental Olive Tree, also known as “Mana Elia” (Mother Olive) by the respectful locals. Recognized as a natural monument for its immense size and historical significance, this ancient wonder is estimated to be a staggering 2,800 years old.

Mana Elia, "Mother Olive Tree", in Kamilari south Crete
Olive trees next to Mana Elia, "Mother Olive Tree", in Kamilari south Crete
Mana Elia, "Mother Olive Tree", in Kamilari south Crete

Towering over its surroundings, Mana Elia boasts an impressive base perimeter of 9.5 meters. Its gnarled trunk, etched with the passage of time, possesses a unique aesthetic quality. To honor and protect this natural treasure, the Kamilari Cultural Association has encircled it with twelve large stones. Eight of these stones hold a special significance, adorned with carvings reminiscent of the double axe symbol, a powerful emblem of the Minoan civilization.

The significance of Mana Elia extends beyond its size and age. Its location, on the site of Dio Lakki near the Kamilari Tholos Tomb (1000 meters away) and the Minoan Palace of Phaistos (1400 meters away), suggests a silent witness to the rise and fall of these ancient civilizations. It’s a “Thrombolia” variety, locally known as “Hontrolia,” grafted onto a wild olive tree rootstock. This grafting technique combines the desirable qualities of a cultivated olive with the resilience of a wild one, ensuring the continued health and longevity of this remarkable tree.

Mana Elia is more than just a tourist attraction; it’s a living link to Crete’s rich history and a powerful symbol of the island’s deep connection to olive cultivation. Its presence offers a glimpse into the past while reminding us of the importance of preserving these natural and cultural treasures for generations to come.

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