A VISIT TO SITIA GEOPARK
I was very pleased to receive the invitation from the Municipality of Sitia, the Sitia Municipal Agency and the Sitia Development Agency to join a team of 7 journalists who would visit the area and get to know the Sitia Geopark. It was declared a UNESCO Global Geopark in November 2015 and is located in the east of Crete, in the Municipality of Sitia. The visit lasted from 8 to 11 May 2019 and was a unique experience.
It was the chance to get to know a unique geotourism destination, explore the areaʼs biodiversity, see rare species of flora and fauna and a patchwork of habitats and ecosystems, impressive rock formations, caves, and landscape features, and learn about the areaʼs rich history, culture and the day-to-day life of people who live in the wider area of the Sitia UNESCO Global Geopark.
Interesting geotrails have been designed that visitors can follow by 4x4 or bike or on foot. The Sitia UNESCO Global Geopark is ideal for outdoor activities such as recreational caving, rock climbing, canyoning, trekking, sailboarding at Kouremenou Beach or birdwatching. Sitia Geopark is also perfect for observing numerous rare plant species.
At Hellenic Sun Editions, for decades now in our thematic online and digital publications such as www.alternativegreece.gr και www.alternativegreece.com, weʼve focused on developing any new forms of tourism that have emerged in Greece, including geotourism and geoparks. We also stressed how vital it is for Greece and its islands to preserve their natural environment, not just to improve living conditions for people, especially in rural areas like Sitia, but also to improve and upgrade Greek tourism, to extend the tourist season and to attract high quality, special interest tourism.
Our trip to explore the Sitia UNESCO Global Geopark was a journey into its historical past, into its culture, villages, rich natural world, amazing variety of ecosystems, and allowed us to explore the Vai Palm Forest, Kato Zakros, Xirokambos and the impressive Toplou Monastery, where Abbot Filotheos was waiting to take us on a tour of the church and museum.
It was an unparalleled experience that brought us closer to the amazingly hospitable people and professionals who work there, allowing us to enjoy Creteʼs unique cuisine, and the diversity of activities the wider area around the Sitia UNESCO Global Geopark has to offer.
Weʼd like to thank the staff and partners of the Municipality of Sitia, the Sitia Municipal Agency and the Sitia Development Agency for being great hosts. Weʼll definitely be back.
The visit to Sitia Geopark was held in the course of the program entitled “GEOTOURISM IN INSULAR GEOPARKS” - “GEO-IN” implemented by AKOMM Psiloritis Development SA OTA in cooperation with the Municipality of Sitia, the University of Crete, the Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified Forest, the Troodos Region Development Society Ltd and the Department of Forests of the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment of Cyprus and are co-funded from the European Union and national funds of Greece and Cyprus under the INTERREG VA Greece-Cyprus 2014-2020 Cooperation Program.