Geographical Location

Geographical Location

Crete, the largest island of Greece, is located on the crossroads of three continents, southeastern Europe, the southwestern part of Asia and North Africa. This position, besides having a huge geopolitical importance, has also influenced the development of the climate in general and, consequently, the biodiversity (flora and fauna) that characterizes the island and is extremely rich. The area Crete occupies is almost 8.000 square kilometers, with a length of about 260 km and the length of the coastline that surrounds the island is larger than 1.000 km.

The morphology of the Cretan earth is described as strongly mountainous, with an extensive mountain range crossing it with direction from the west to the east. The mountains that define the morphology of the island are the Lefka Ori with maximum altitude 2.452 meters, the mountain range of Psiloritis with maximum altitude 2.456 meters and Mount Dikti, with maximum altitude 2.148 meters. To realize the intensity of the mountainous character of Crete, it is enough to observe the Lefka Ori, the most extensive mountain range with more than 50 summits with altitude more than 2.000 meters.

The presence of large and impressive plateaus, like Omalos, Askyfos, Niatos, Nida and Lasithi, the large number of gorges, the presence of swallow-holes like the swallow-hole of Omalos, cliffs and numerous caves, like the cave precipice of Gourgouthakas, the largest in Greece, with a depth of about 1.200 meters, one of the largest in Europe, complete the mountainous and intense image of the geomorphology of the island. In particular, the presence of caves is so intense that only in the Lefka Ori more than 1.500 Caves have been recorded and the three deepest precipices of Greece. In Crete there are more than 5.000 recorded caves.

More specifically, as regards gorges, Crete could be well characterized as the place of the gorges, a very important, from geological and environmental view, formation that is the result of the combined effects of water, the limestone rocks that prevail on the island and the tectonic movements of the area, the plate of Africa sinking deeply under the European plate, causing intense pressures to the Hellenic Arrow. The vicinity of Crete to the convergence point of the tectonic plates has caused, over the geological years, important elevations of the soil, the most characteristic being the 9 meter elevation after an earthquake of 8 Richter scale degrees, in 365 A.D.

The gorges of Crete, imposing on the mountains, basically with orientation from the north to the south, cause awe and amazement, while being places with very special soil, biodiversity and local microclimatic conditions. The best known of them, the gorge of Samaria, about 16 kilometers in length, is one of the largest gorges of Europe and an internationally recognized place of environmental and cultural importance. Apart from the gorge of Samaria, the gorges of Imbros, Aradaina and Agia Eirini in the prefecture of Chania, the Kourtaliotiko in the prefecture of Rethymno, the Agiofarango and the gorge of Karteros in the prefecture of Heraklion, the gorge of Cha and the Gorge of the Dead or gorge of Zakros in the prefecture of Lasithi are the most imposing and typical ones that one can visit and cross in Crete.