So what are you doing this World Environment Day?
We decided to share some of our favourite places in Greece, preserved in their natural state. We would like to say ‘untouched by man’ but then we wouldn’t have been there ourselves to enjoy them. Still, all efforts are made by locals and visitors to preserve their uniqueness, while most of them belong to the European NATURA 2000 Network for the Environment.
359 areas in Greece belong to the NATURA network, covering 2.360.000 hectares, approximately 20% of Greece’s land.
So here are some of our picks, based on uniqueness, beauty and an unspoiled environment. All are suitable for visiting and team events… always with respect to the surroundings…
Meteora, meaning “suspended in the air” or “in the heavens above” is one of the largest and most important complexes of Greek Orthodox monasteries in Greece, second only to Mount Athos. These monasteries are built on the top of these incredible rock formations (conglomerates) formed in prehistoric years from sediments deposited in the deltas of streams, flowing from the mountains. As the delta built up, more streams cut down into the existing deltaic sediments, forming wide channels, that were later also filled with sediments.
Rhodes has been a crossroad for many civilisations and one of the seven miracles of the world, the giant statue of the “Kolossos” of Rodos. One of it’s hidden treasures is the Valley of the Butterflies, a unique nature reserve and the area of the only natural forest of Liquidambar orientalis (Oriental Sweetgum trees) in Europe, and a resting point for the Jersey tiger (Panaxia Quadripunctaria), a nocturnal moth.
The Vikos Gorge, 30km north west of the city of Ioannina is listed as the deepest gorge in the world by the Guinness Book of Records among others. The gorge is found in the core zone of the Vikos–Aoös National Park, in the Zagori region and is a site of major scientific interest, because of its almost virgin condition, it is a haven for endangered species and contains many and varied ecosystems.
Photo: Onno Zweers – Panorama of several photos
Mount Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece and the second highest mountain in the Balkans. Known in Greek Mythology as the home of the Twelve Olympians Gods, on the Mytikas peak, Mount Olympus is noted for its very rich flora with several species. Every year thousands of people visit Olympus to admire its nature, to tour its slopes, and reach its peaks. Organized mountain refuges and various mountaineering and climbing routes are available to visitors, who want to explore its nature.
Paros is a famous Greek island in the Cyclades, right in the heart of the Aegean Sea. Apart from its tourism attractions it also includes the Environmental and Cultural Park of Paros, an 800.000m² area on the peninsula, protected since 2009. It’s of big historical, cultural and natural importance with traces of civilisation found from as back as the Geometrical period.
Sifnos, a picturesque island in the Cyclades complex of the Aegean sea with a unique architecture, heavily related to water conservation. The whole architecture of the buildings and the surroundings include morphological elements such as flat roofs, gutters and cisterns (water reservoirs) in almost every building, but also large-scale interventions to the natural environment, with the creation of terraces (pezoules) on many hillsides, in order to retain -much needed- water.
Elafonisos is a small -19 square kilometres (7 square miles)- Greek island between the Peloponnese and Kythira with a population of around 300 people during winter. It’s an island famous for its beautiful sandy beaches with “Simos” at the top of the list, known for its crystal blue waters and a unique sand dune environment. Vatica, a NATURA 2000 area in Elafonisos island, houses an important sand dune – wetland environment, and is a continuum with sand dunes situated on the opposite side on the Peloponnesus.
Greece is full of amazing -environmentally protected- places to visit, and it would be impossible to mention them all in one article. Here at Optimum Greece we consider it important to protect and sustain the beauty and the ecosystem of these unique environments, making it possible for our future generations to visit and admire them. We always make sure our events are friendly to the environment and our footprint as ‘light’ as possible.
Ask us about our environmental policy.