The Lake of Agios Nikolaos
The lake of Agios Nikolaos in the centre of town is the most famous landmark of Agios Nikolaos for visitors and locals alike.
The lake of Agios Nikolaos is also known as Voulismeni (“sunken”), and by the unattractive name of Vromolimni (“Stinkylake”), acquired in times past, when the stagnant waters of the lake gave off an unpleasant smell until a channel was cut to the sea in 1867. That was also when the small bridge was built by Pasha Kostis Adosides.
The lake of Agios Nikolaos has distinctive vertical walls reminiscent of a volcanic crater, which is why some people believe that it was created by a sunken volcano. Though seemingly plausible, this theory has gradually lost ground and today it is generally thought that the lake is the mouth of an underground river.
Today the circular lake of Agios Nikolaos, 137 m in diameter, is the town landmark, with many cafés and restaurants set out around it. The lake with its still water, ducks, fishing boats and green slopes is a place which offers peace and pretty pictures.
The best view of the lake is from the little park above it. Here you will find a cafeteria and a restaurant from which to enjoy the lovely view.
If you find yourself in Agios Nikolaos at Easter, don’t miss the unique Resurrection celebrations at midnight on Easter Saturday, with the effigy of Judas burning on the waters of the lake, and the colourful fireworks turning night into day.
Legends of the lake of Agios Nikolaos
The lake of Agios Nikolaos is the lake in which, according to mythology, the goddesses Athena and Artemis Britomartys refreshed themselves.
It is also the same lake which the locals thought “bottomless” up to the 19th century. They believed that it communicated with evil spirits, and linked it to many strange legends and superstitions. It is said that when the German Army left Crete at the end of World War II, they sank guns and armoured vehicles in the lake, but these disappeared and have never been found.
Another strange event took place in 1956, when dead fish suddenly rose to the surface of the lake of Agios Nikolaos after an eruption of the Santorini volcano. This led to theories that the lake somehow communicated with Santorini.
The myth that the lake was bottomless was disproved in 1853, when the British Admiral Spratt took soundings and discovered that it was 210 feet (64 m) deep at its centre.