Ag. Nikolaos - Elounda - Kritsa
Agios Nikolaos was settled in the late Bronze Age by Dorian occupants of Lato, at a time when the security of the Lato hillfort became a lesser concern and easy access to the harbour at Agios Nikolaos became more important.
The name Agios Nikolaos means Saint Nicholas. Its stress lies on the second syllable of the word "Nikolaos". Agios Nikolaos or Ayios Nikolaos (alternative romanizations of the Greek Άγιος Νικόλαος) is a common placename in Greece and Cyprus, since Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors and of all of Greece.
Elounda is formed of seven villages and an uninhabited island area.
The earliest recorded settlement at Elounda was the ancient Greek city of Olous, whose people were in intermittent conflict with the citizens of Dorian Lato, until a peace treaty was eventually reached. Elounda has a later history as part of the Venetian era. Elounda has changed considerably during its lifespan. The bulk of the ancient city of Olous was reclaimed by the sea towards the end of the Ancient Greek period and is still visible, in part, when diving in the bay of Elounda.
The road into Elounda from Agios Nikolaos is approximately 12 km in length and follows the shore as it climbs to the top of a small mountain. On a clear day it is possible to see the whole of Mirabello Bay and all the way to the eastern tip of Crete.
The small fishing village of Plaka, which overlooks the island of Spinalonga and the Kolikithia Peninsula, is located a mere 5 km from the main square of Elounda heading north away from Agios Nikolaos.
During the Middle Ages, it was thought to be the largest village in Crete. Kritsa has been destroyed many times during the last centuries because it participated in all of Crete's revolutions.
Kritsa has an extensive historic record with evidence of occupation as early as the second millennium BC. Near the village, three km to the north, are the ruins of the ancient Greek city Lato which was noted as one of the most powerful Dorian towns in Crete, with two acropoleis. The oldest settlement in the Kritsa area, on the steep rocky hill south of the village named Kastellos, dates back to the 12–13th century BC (Late Minoan IIIC). Lato is thought to may have been founded when Kastellos was abandoned. Before the entrance of the village is the old Byzantine Church of Panagia Kera with unique, in technique and importance, Byzantine frescoes (13th and 14th century).