The village of Olympos (or Elympos) is not easy to win over. You have to make quite an effort to get there and get to know it. The village seems even more beautiful when you look at it from afar, whether you gaze upon it from the ravine as you return from Diafani or from the sea. A supernatural chevron embroidered between mountain tops, decorating the Ai Lia-Koryfiou mountain pass and waiting for the sun to shed light on its neighbourhoods during sunrise and sunset.
There is no other settlement like this one in Greece. Dozens of windmills, bakeries and small churches cuddling with the humble houses leaving only small narrow passageways for the residents and tourists that keep the village alive to walk on. Noawadays, most of the villagers regard tourism as their only salvation and that is why the women of the village put on their festive traditional “kavai” outfit and wait for the buses to arrive.
Olympos was built between the 7th and the 9th century (during the Byzantine Iconoclasm period) by residents from the ancient Vroukounta and Nisiros that were trying to protect themselves from the Arab raids. The murals of the village churches that do not depict figures of saints, as this was forbidden by iconoclasts, confirm this. The settlers chose this almost inaccessible location that is hidden from the north and south-west but has a clear view to the west so that they could see pirate ships approaching and have time to get inside the castle, the ruins of which still exist to this day along with the names of the respective quarters of the village, namely “Mesa Kastro” and “Oxo Kamara”.
Despite the mountainous terrain of the area, the residents took advantage of the springs and any arable part of land they could find in order to create farming fields. Being innovative and hard-working they managed to become self-sufficient. They had their crops, their animals, the sea and the windmills (almost all houses had one). The ovens were too many to count and all the women baked. The villagers were not only tough workers but also musicians and this is the village of origin of the best traditional musicians of the island.