Elafonisi Island, Crete


A small island  off the west coast is joined to the body of Crete by a shallow reef some 800m long. This is easy to cross when the weather is calm. In calm weather it is hard to imagine the frightful waves which the south wind can whip up – some of the fiercest in the Mediterranean.

On April 24, 1824, which was Easter  Sunday, Egyptian forces called in by the Ottoman rulers slaughtered 40 Greek fighters and 600 women and children. A  plaque on the summit of the island is the only reminder of their terrible end.


This was one of many tragedies during the insurrection of 1921-30 and came at the end of the first phase of the revolt. Tombazis, the Greek commander, had abandoned the island on April 12, urging its people to fight on. During the early part of that year, some 60,000 Cretans fled into exile with the help of the Greek fleet, according to the History of Crete.

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