Geopark of Psiloritis

«In the Municipality of Anogeia is the information center of Psiloritis Natural Park as well as the headquarters of the organization’s management which is made up of AKOM SA. and works with the help of the Museum of Natural History of the University of Crete, «Mayor of Anogia Manolis Kallergis said in an interview with «In-On».
Q. What are the privileges of the Geopark of Psiloritis?
A. The geopark of Psiloritis spans a large area of central Crete with well-known geological features such as caves, caverns, gorges, sinks, fossils and is a geotope that gives information on the geological evolution of the history of Crete where the visitor can meet throughout the geopark area. The great capital of the place is outside the amazing natural environment and the beauty of the local culture of Psiloritis. Reference points are the archaeological site of Idaion Andros, the Kamares cave, Zominthos, Eleftherna, the monastery of Syrithos, Axos, Tylissos and other monasteries such as Arkadi, Diskouri, Bosakos, Halepa, Vrontissi, Kaloidena et al. Still you meet historic sites with their Mitata and their shepherds, live villages with festivals, festivals and quality local products that are the basis of the Cretan diet as well as beaches and tourist places with modern development. Therefore, the hinterland of Geopark has a quality in the natural and cultural environment, it is an ideal place for visiting visitors and suggests various forms of alternative tourism, sightseeing, natural, geotourism, winter, ecclesiastical, tasteful, historical, cultural. Tourism that focuses on the environment, human life and the creation of the local population.
Q. What are the Areas?
A. The natural park of Psiloritis spans eight municipalities of central Crete around the Psiloritis mountain range. It includes the entire municipalities of Anogia of Mylopotamos and Armaris and part of the Municipality of Rethymnon (Eleftherna-Arkadi), Saint Vassiliou, Phaistos, Gortyn and Malevizi.
Q. What tours can be done?
A. In the municipality of Anogeia is located the information center of the Psiloritis Natural Park as well as the headquarters of the organization’s management which is made up of AKOM SA. and works with the help of the Museum of Natural History of the University of Crete. There are also tours from Herakleion and Rethymnon depending on the desired destination of the visitor. There are many suggestions for one-day trips, two-day or three-day excursions with the possibility of overnight stay in villages with similar slopes both on the North side of Psiloritis such as Anogia, Axos, Panormos and in the south as in Amari, Zaros, Gergeri, Krousson and elsewhere. The site of the Natural Park provides information on the routes and the geotopes that any interested visitor can find as well as to shape his / her own program according to the destination and the time he / she is interested in getting to know their place, people and our culture.
Q. What is the history of the Geopark?
A. The Natural Park Psiloritis was founded in 2001 by the company AKOMM – Psiloritis Development SA OTA with the scientific support of the Museum of Natural History of the University of Crete.
Due to its rich biodiversity, its beautiful landscape and undeniable history and tradition, Psiloritis Nature Park has been incorporated since its foundation in the European Geoparks Network and a little later in the UNESCO World Geopark Network, thus achieving its worldwide recognition place.
Since then, the Psiloritis Nature Park, in cooperation with the Park Municipalities and other competent bodies, has developed the appropriate infrastructure to provide both its guests and permanent residents with a quality life in a non-urban environment.
Today, Psiloritis Nature Park is actively involved in global efforts to protect and enhance the environment, natural and cultural heritage, as well as sustainable, local development through geotourism and other forms of alternative tourism.
Q. What is the management of the Geopark?
A. It is a fact that the protection and management of areas such as Psiloritis, in most cases is done without taking into account the human activity that develops in parallel.
But in most of these areas the natural environment is the largest part of their «local capital». Local capital is considered to be the sum of the material and intangible resources available to an area. The «spatial approach» to the development of the countryside of Europe, and in particular the mountainous regions, presupposes that these regions can stand «competitive» in the international economic realm, exploiting their environmental elements and shaping through them a «distinct» developmental proposal.
In such a direction, classical management methods where the state and local authorities have the exclusive role cannot be effective, but coordinated management through co-operation schemes between the state, local government and the social partners – research and universities, etc.
The Board of Directors of AKOMM – PELORIOS DEVELOPMENT SA, having ascertained the above and evaluating the actions of the Natural Park and the dynamics that this has as a tool for the promotion and protection of the natural and cultural environment of Psiloritis, decided that the Committee for Management of PHYSICAL PARK PALOIRIS.
Certain responsibilities have been delegated to the Commission by the Board (in accordance with the possibility provided by the statutes of the development body), making it virtually a subsidiary body to the Board of Directors.
The Commission, among other things, contributes to the distinct and autonomous operation of NATURAL PARK as a part of the development body.
Purpose of the Board the composition of the committee was made up of representatives of local government, public services, scientific and research bodies, environmental education centers and collective business organizations.
It was then followed by consultation with bodies with the above characteristics and finalized which of them would participate in the committee.
The entities that finally participate in the Management Committee of PHYSICAL PARK PALLOKI are:
• AKOMM-PSILORITIS DEVELOPMENT SA OTA (Two Mayors of the Board of Directors)
• Natural History Museum of Crete (one member)
• Environment Directorate of the Region of Crete (one member)
• Department of Forests of Crete (one member)
• Center for Environmental Education of Anogia (one member)
• Institute of Speleological Research (one member)
• Geographical Network GH OF PSILORITI SA (a member)
• GEOTEE – Branch of Crete (one member)
The Commission operates under a specific operating regulation.
Q. What is the position of the Geopark?
A. The Natural Park of Psiloritis is located in central Crete and includes the mountain range of Psiloritis and its northern extension to the Kouloukona mountain range. It is administratively incorporated into the prefectures of Herakleion and Rethymnon. It has an area of approximately 1,200 sq. kilometers.
Q. What is its access?
A. Access to the Natural Park is:
• east of the city of Herakleion via the provincial road that passes through the Gazi junction and connects successively Tylisos, Gonias, Anogia,
• West of the city of Rethymno via the old highway connecting Perama, Garazo, Axos, Anogia,
• south of the main road connecting Herakleion, Agia Varvara, Gergeri, Zaro, Arches, Fourfoura, Agia Fotini, Arkadi, Margarites, Perama, Rethymnon
• north of the new Herakleion – Rethymno highway, turning left at the Siesse – Alois,
• north of the old highway connecting Herakleion, Gazi junction, Marathos, Damasta, Garazo, Axos, Anogia.
Access to the areas of the Park is served by the network of intercity bus services (Herakleion) and Rethymno.
Access to Crete takes place either via the city of Herakleion, which has daily ferry routes and airplanes, or via the city of Chania, which offers daily ferry services.
Q. Where has the Park been included?
A. The Natural Park Psiloritis has been incorporated since its foundation in the European Geoparks Network and the UNESCO World Geopark Network, thus achieving the worldwide spread of the reputation of this place.
The European Geoparks Network currently consists of 35 sites working together to preserve and enhance their geological heritage through integrated actions for the sustainable development of their areas. The Network was created to protect, enhance and promote both the geological as well as the rural areas of Europe’s natural and cultural heritage, developing and promoting educational and geotouristikes activities with high quality standards.
Members are evaluated every four years by Network and other International Organizations’ experts to ensure high quality qualities in each area. All members of the Network are automatically members of the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network.
Q. Who are the Psiloritis Geotopes?
A. The monuments of the earth and the geotopes of Psiloritis are scattered all over the area. They include unique rock formations, fossil sites, impressive forms of relief, caves and other karstic forms, ridges and stones of rocks, particularly important for the natural environment water appearances, elements of human interaction with stone and the relief, all of which make up the history of Earth and man in Psiloritis.
Many of these geotopes are adjacent to each other and can combine small parts of the geological history of the mountain. Others again have common geological and physical characteristics that one completes the other and all together a complete thematic picture of the mountain. For the above reasons, but also for the needs of their emergence, many geotopes have been grouped into sub-regions.
Thus, the «intersection of the Taliban Mountains: a trip of 250 million years in the past» in the Kouloukon mountain range, the «mountain landscapes of Psiloritis» in the mountainous zone of the mountain, «from the mountain to the plains» embraced by the eastern and the southern foothills of the mountain, the «Amari» cliffs «in the homonymous valley and the» cave-tree «that includes the most important caves of Psiloritis. At the same time, there are also individual geotopes, which for various reasons have not been included in any of these sub-areas and are distinguished as individual formations.
The subsequent presentation of the most important geotopes of the Psiloritis Nature Park will follow the above distinction of the sub-regions. Most of these geotopes are accessible from the existing road network, others only via mountaineering paths, while some are connected by a network of walking routes. Several of the sites have or will have information signs posted from the Natural Park or other Local Authorities.
Q. What is her flora?
A. Psiloritis with the wildness of life and nature is a true paradise endowed with high peaks with beautiful plateaus, ravines with springs and rivers that offer generous water, lively forests, rocks that have emerged from the depths of the earth, gorges – large mountain doors, caves – wildlife shelters, rich valleys and cultivated lands in the most lowlands.
The relief of Psiloritis promoted the growth of vegetation, so that different forms of flora can be observed in different regions. The gorges are probably the most important wealth. In the gulf of Gafari in the forest of Rouvas one can see first, huge cypresses and olive trees, while interesting are many endemic plants, the Cretan Cretan, the Cretan Cyclamen and two endemic orchids, the Cretan Khelanthero and the sadness. In the most difficult canyons of Vorizia and Kamares, one can admire magnificent isophytes, many of which are endemic to Crete, such as the Petromarula, its great Zeus, and the plant-symbol of Crete, the Dyattemos. The Patsos Gorge is of great botanical interest as it includes giant plantains, tiny sunscreens, nails and endemic verbosco. But in the gonian gorge the visitor will gather oregano and admire the ravines, the centaurs, the endemic float and the autumn cyclamen. Plateaus are also areas of particular vegetation and unique species.
The endemic red tulip on the plains of Ious Kampos in Amari is dramatically spreading as well as the saffron and the nephritis, a ravenous endemic plant of Crete on the Nida Plateau. In the plateaus around Skokina, the richest plant in Crete, the chorus that is in danger of extinction due to grazing, grows. The geological and climatic diversity of the mountain is reflected in the different types of vegetation. The tree-like forms of vegetation sometimes form small clusters and sometimes extensive forests.
The forest of Rouvas, one of the largest in Crete, has gigantic forests and among them deciduous maples. Here is an important habitat of the endemic tree of Crete, the vineyard, which, because of its rarity, is often referred to as «Unknown Tree». A smaller but equally stunning forest is found in Vromonero, Krouson.
At the southern outskirts of the mountain we find woods with cypress trees and rough pine trees, while the deciduous oak trees are present near the village of Margarites and Vroulidia of Anogia. Very impressive trees are the terns and the burrows that break when they bear the monotony of the horror. It is worthwhile the forest of Mylopotamos and the forest of Kalyvos. In relation to forests, phrygana have a much greater biodiversity.
In spring and summer, the low slopes of Psiloritis are filled with colors and aromas: aspathes, thorns, thimbles, thyme, snakes, squirrels, wild boars, spiders using animal thorns, lint and foliage to protect against dehydration, aromas to attract insects or repel enemies.
We also find snowdrops, cyclamen, ores, tulips, shrubs and a variety of orchids. At higher altitudes, the phrygana mainly due to winds and snow are lower, and due to chronic grazing spiny. We still find shells, anklets, embroidery, lynxes, acantholymones, snowdrops, coats and yolks. The shrubs that make up the macedonian vegetation are evergreen.
Carp, bushes, shrubs, bumblebees, laurels, coumars resisting the drought of the Cretan summer with hard leather leaves and deep roots. Inconspicuous clusters create the heather and the kumari on the northern slopes of Kouloukonas.
Q. What is the fauna?
A. The geological richness of Psiloritis, the intense geomorphology and the variety of rocks are responsible for the presence of an incredible variety of animals that survive in the microclimatic conditions of each region.
Hundreds of birds find here places for nesting, hunting, resting from the strain of immigration or places to mate. Here survives one of the few remaining populations of the Cretan wildcat, the ghost-animal for the researchers.
In the Psiloritis viscera hundreds of tiny bugs, beetles, snails, cranberries and isopods have lived silently (and blindly) for thousands of years.
The isolation of Crete, makes mountainous mass one of the most important «points» of high biodiversity and endemism in Greece and has led to its integration into the NATURA Network.
In Psiloritis live the bokeh or gouache, one of the largest and most spectacular birds of prey in Europe. The Cretan population of this bird is probably the last viable in the Balkans, as the use of poisons and the irrational growth led the bird to be extinct from mainland Greece, while its last resort seems to be Crete.
The Psiloritis vultures also leave the mountain walker speechless with their magnificent «team» flying, creating large colonies and nesting in steep rocky roofs and «lofts», always against the winds they use to climb up and look for when they are fed on dead animals. Most of the nests in Ida are located in Amari and Pano Riza, using the northern smooth slopes of Mylopotamos for food search. A crowd of other raptors, complements the Psiloritis ornithological trek: golden eagles, petrites, olives, geranines and brachinquirt.
In the area of Psiloritis we will meet the three species of Cretan amphibians: the green toena, the Cretan tree and the Cretan frog, all kinds of Cretan reptiles (shammiths, lizards and the four species of snake on the island), as well as most mammals of Crete. Unique and sad absence from Ida is the wild animal, which was exterminated by the mountain with the proliferation of firearms in the 20th century. Many caves and beaches of the area host colonies of protected bats (bats), with the cave of Ephons in the lowlands of Mylopotamos (hosts several hundred people), the cave of Kamilari in Tylissos (with at least four species in very large populations), the cave Drown in the Shroud of Krouson which hosts dozens of people of five different species, the Kamares cave and many more.
Among the invertebrates, snails, isopods, and several families of terrestrial beetles’ exhibit narrow-endemic forms that spread exclusively to the Idi mountain. Seventeen of the snail species of Mylopotamos are Cretan endemic species.
Recent studies of «hot» biodiversity points based on the invertebrate fauna of southern Greece, highlight the mountainous mass of Psiloritis at the second most important point in southern Greece.
Q. What is the Climate?
A. In general, the climate of Crete belongs to the type of terrestrial Mediterranean climate. Its main characteristics are sweetness and mildness. In terms of mildness and change, the climate of Crete is considered privileged and is due to the central position of the island in the eastern Mediterranean.
The winter is mild, making frequent arrival to the area of hot and liquid gas masses from the southwest. In contrast, summer, mainly August, is characterized by the northern winds that offer cool meltemia.
Summer is hot with a warmer month in July with a maximum temperature of 30 ° C and a minimum of 22 ° C. The summer season lasts from June to September and the months of July – August are almost anomalous. Sunshine reaches 300 days a year.
Winter usually begins in mid – December. In the lowland and semi – mountainous areas, it is mild or warm, while in the mountainous areas it is mild or chilly. Finally, in a very small part of the very mountainous regions, the winter is shining with heavy snowfall and characteristic alpine landscape. Psiloritis is covered with snow and is kept in the white until spring, while in ravines and sunshine the snow remains in the summer.
Most rainfall occurs during December and January. In winter or maximum temperature is 16 ° C and minimum 9 ° C.
Q. What are the Educational Programs?
A. The Physical Park has developed two special Museums that concern environmental education programs implemented by school groups in the classroom and in the field. Museums have been sent to all schools in the Natural Park and are available to other teams at the Park’s premises in Anogia.
«The Water Journey»
It is a mosaic that focuses on the course of water over and over the limestone mountains and the individual ecosystems it creates, i.e., plateaus, caves and springs.
Includes indoor and outdoor activities, field observations, data collection and processing, games and other activities.
«The Plateaus Plateau»
This Museum focuses on the unique life forms and ecosystems that host the Psiloritis Plateau. It focuses on specific species, such as the Cretan Wildcat, the Butterfly of Psiloritis and many others. By combining field, recreational and exploratory activities, the special characteristics of the animals and plants of the area as well as the particular ecosystems are explored.
Q. How does the Information Center work?
A. The Psiloritis Natural Park Information Center operates in Anogia in an appropriately shaped area of the building of «AKOMM-PILORITIS» where, with dioramas and special applications, it is the promotion and promotion of its activities and in general the promotion of natural and cultural resources of the region through permanent exhibitions and events.
The main task of the Information Center is to educate and sensitize not only visitors, but also students, educational and social groups for the rational management of natural resources of Geopark Psiloritis through specially designed visit and tour programs.
The space consists of two sections.
They include:
• Reception area – information
• Geopark Exhibition with Supervisory Material and Diodes
• Simulation of Cave
• Cretan house diorama
It includes a lecture-event hall with a view of approximately 40 people with suitable electronic equipment.

Source of publication 28th edition In-On

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