In the village of Ano Vouves of Kissamos in Chania, Crete is the oldest olive tree in the world. The ancient tree is an incredible 3000 years old, a fact generally acknowledged by the international scientific community.
The ancient Vouves tree has a trunk circumference of 12.5 meters (41 feet), and a diameter of 4.6 meters (15 feet). It belongs to the local variety of tsounati, and was grafted at a height of 3 meters onto a wild olive tree.
Because of the grafting, its trunk has been so beautifully shaped by nature that it resembles a sculpture. In 1990, after a unanimous decision in the prefecture of Chania, the Vouves Olive Tree was declared a Natural Monument of great importance.
The fruits of the evergreen olive tree make the best olive oil in the world, making the area the cradle of olive cultivation on the island of Crete. The trunk of the tree is now hollow as there is no heartwood, so the olive is renewed outward and the heartwood gradually rots away.
Since the olive tree is constantly renewing its wood, it has served since ancient times as a a symbol of immortality.
Thousands of tourists visit the stunning tree every summer to marvel at it and learn its history. Mostly they are impressed by its enormous shape and the imposing volume of the trunk, but also by the fact that it has remained alive and fruitful for 3000 years without even a pause.
The site of the olive tree, including the entire hill on which several villages are situated, has thousands of olive trees and the villages are widely believed to produce the best olive oil in the world.