Built in the 18th century, the oil factory that houses the Olive and Oil Museum is considered to be the oldest among the six oil factories that the village once had. Nowadays, it is the only surviving building of pre-industrial archeology in the Prefecture of Chania and, according to the experts, it is dated from the same period as the Arkadi Monastery in the neighbouring Prefecture of Rethimnon. 

Given these characteristics, the building was officially listed as a monument by the Department of Byzantine Antiquities of the Greek Ministry of Culture. It is interesting that it was initially regarded to be younger and its listing was assigned to the Department of Modern Monuments. But its architectural and structural particularities led the experts to the conclusion that it is a much older building. 

The objective of the refurbishment was to bring the building back to its initial form and revive the "fabrica" — as the olive oil factories were once called in Crete. The architect in charge was Panagiota Trimandili-Magan who has a strong knowledge and a long experience in the refurbishment of monuments. 

The fabrica is mainly built with materials from the village, as evidenced by its stones and the red soil in its joints, while it shares common elements with other old buildings in the villages of Crete, such as the arched windows. Much rarer are the three pointed arches at the ceiling, an acknowledged influence from the Venetian architecture. The stone blocks used at these arches, the windows, the doors, the corners of the building and the fireplace were brought to the village with drays from other regions of Chania. "Reinforcements" also arrived from the volcanic island of Santorini, such as the special type of cement mixed with the red soil in the joints of the building. To these two materials is the high construction cost that the fabrica is believed to have had and its -now proven- resistance to time attributed.

So it is not surprising that the stone fireplace, serving the functional needs of the oil factory, was preserved in a perfect condition. On the contrary, the wooden loft on which the workers rest, had perished. After being rebuilt from scratch, it was transformed into an old Cretan house's (bed)room — one of the most beautiful parts of the Olive and Oil Museum.

By refurbishing the olive oil factory and reassembling its original machinery (the mill, the press and the so-called "worker"), a prominent aspect of the life in Crete is revealed and visitors are offered the opportunity to see and understand an important phase in the production of a valuable good. 

The two streets leading to the building prepare the visitors for the experience they will enjoy at the Olive and Oil Museum. Starting from the village square, crossing the wooden bridge over a small river, Valsamiotis, and walking through a lovely lemon orchard is the first way to reach the Museum. Just before the entrance to the Museum becomes visible, the two-storey house next to it appears: a building as beautiful and old as the Olive and Oil Museum, which is also refurbished. Its ground floor is also open to visit. The second way to reach the Museum is by following a stone path that has survived the centuries pretty much intact.







Visit info

The Olive and Oil Museum is located approximately 15 km southwest of Chania, in the village of Vatolakkos.


Related links

Here you can find all the useful links that the website of the Olive and Oil Museum contains as well as other interesting...


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