Psiloritis Natural Park is located in the beautiful Island of Crete, in southern Aegean, Greece. It has an area of 1159 Km2, with 157 settlements and towns and a population of about 42234 inhabitants (population density 36.4 inh/Km2).
The Natural Park comprises the Psiloritis mountains and its northern coastal zone in central Crete. Psiloritis is the highest mountain of Crete standing 5 kms over Mediterranean sea-bottom. It is an area with a rich history and mythology too. It is the area where Zeus, the king of ancient Greek gods, grow up, the area where the Idaion Andro cave (in Nida plateau), the most important religious site in Minoan period in Crete occurs, and also the classical town of Eleytherna. The Natural Park combines the unique Natural Environment (part of the area is participating to the Nature 2000 network), the long history, the individual customs and tradition and the outstanding civilization with the fascinating geology.
Within the territory of the Geopark, the whole nappe pile of Crete, and the majority of the rock types of the island are presented in excellent outcrops and sections. Every year many foreign universities are visiting the area for basic scientific research and education, having published their results in more than 100 journal articles in the last decade. In the area of the geopark all kind of geological structures are visible, from small to regional scale. Big faults with excellent and imposing fault surfaces, fossil sites, caves, impressive gorges and plateaus hosting many endemic species of the island, unique fold associations and geomorphologic structures are feeding for thousands of years the culture (as the Mitato (Sheppard's houses) architect that come from the Minoan times), tradition (many lebeled as Traditional villages in Arkadi and other areas) and customs of the inhabitants.
The Geopark itself is subdivided into sub-parks each one presenting a major geological feature of the area. Psiloritis Karstik Landscape is located at the Psiloritis tops comprising structures and features related to the uplift of the mountains and the karstik weathering. Nida Plateau with Idaion Andron cave where Zeus grew up and Psiloritis Summit are the most imposing features
Talea Ori Stratigraphic sequence located at the northern coast offers a journey to the early geological history of the island. Rock types, weathering structures, folds (as the Vossakos fold succession) and fossils (as the Permian corals) comprise the geotops of this sub-park.
The Basin to Range Park located at the eastern and southern slopes of Psiloritis offer a unique opportunity to study the development of the Neogene basins of Crete in respect to the high mountains. Landscape features, springs and tectonic structures form this sub-park.
SpeleoPark is planned to be organized at the Psiloritis mts as an individual park in which the main aspects of speleology will be properly demonstrated for all kind of activities.
Many other geotops located within the geopark are treated as individual sites presenting main features of the geological history of the island: the Gonies section presents along a short section of 2 km almost all nappes of Crete, the "Sculptures of Nature" near Chonos is an area where karstik weathering and erosion of carbonate rocks has formed unique-shaped rock formations and landscape.
In Psiloritis mountains mythology, folklore, tradition and natural environment meet together in such an excellent combination to claim that it is the mountain of gods and humans, of nature and tradition and of the real Cretan spirit.
Anogia Rethimnon, 74051,
Dr Charalampos Fassoulas
Natural History Museum of Crete
University of Crete,
Tel.: +30 2810 393277