[Curiosities] This is the largest and oldest olive tree in the world (which survived the Roman Empire)

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    On the surface of our planet we find different elements that remind us, thanks to their presence, of the passage of time. This is the case of ancient architectural constructions, such as temples still standing or the remains of roads and buildings from antiquity. But if we are looking for a living being, still alive, that is the same age or even older than an old church, those are the trees. In California they have huge sequoias, very long-lived trees that can reach 1,800 years old. But, without going that far, in Europe we have a tree equal to or older than the famous American sequoias: an olive tree that is almost 4,000 years old.

    This is the Vouves olive tree, which is located on the Greek island of Crete. Experts say that the tree is between 2,000 and 4,000 years old, something difficult to determine given its age and its size. The existence of two geometric cemeteries next to the tree indicate that it was already planted at least in the year 900 BC. C., being one of the oldest olive trees in the world.

    A tree that still produces fruit

    This olive tree has a perimeter of 12.5 meters and a diameter of 4.6 meters. Since 1997, it is considered a natural monument protected by the Association of Cretan Municipalities of the Olive Tree. For its part, and given its tourist interest, in 2009 it was used to inaugurate the Vouves Olive Tree Museum nearby. This museum was installed in a 19th century house, and it shows the tools used in the manufacture of olive oil and the traditional process of olive cultivation.

    Curiously, some twigs of this thousand-year-old tree were used to weave the triumphal crowns of the winners of the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004 and those in Beijing in 2008. A real honor for the athletes who wore these crowns. To this day, the Olive Tree of Vouves still bears fruit every year, with an estimate of 150 kilos of olives per year, which are used to make olive oil. If we look at it with perspective, it is a tree that has lived during the Empire of Ancient Egypt, and has seen the birth, growth and fall of the Great Roman Empire, among many other civilizations and disputes. All this makes this olive tree of great historical and cultural importance, and is a milestone in the field of olive oil production, an ancient art highly valued in the Cretan civilization.

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