Sitia UNESCO Global Geopark is on the easternmost edge of Crete. It is mainly a mountainous area, with the Zakros Mountains dominating the landscape and the lace-like coastline all along the shores.
The geology of Sitia UNESCO Global Geopark includes distinctive characteristics that make it unique and of international value. The abundant Pleistocene mammal fossil sites, the discovery of three Deinotherium giganteum fossils, the extensive cave systems, as well as the palaeo-shorelines of Zakros area are unique for Crete and of national importance. Almost all rocks in the region are of sedimentary origin, a fact that indicates the existence of several kinds of fossils and few significant mineral resources. Fern remnants of carboniferous age are to be found in some place, several species of Pleistocene mammals (deer, hippos, elephants etc.) along the coastal zone, whereas a great number of marine fossils exist within the Neogene sediments. The most profound geological feature of the area comprises the abundant karstic structures on the limestone environment. In the broader region more than 170 caves and many gorges have been recorded to date. This unique speleological park is a real paradise for speleologists, biospeleologists and other researchers of the subterranean world.
Sustaining local Communities
Sitia UNESCO Global Geopark is located in the Municipality of Sitia. The UNESCO Global Geopark covers the former Kapodistrian Municipality of Itanos, as well as parts of the former Municipalities of Lefki and Sitia.
Inside Sitia UNESCO Global Geopark, various activities and infrastructure for the support of geotourism and ecotourism have been developed. The most important of them concern the creation of the local Natural History Museum of Zakros and the Speleological Centre in Karydi, the production of printed and electronic materials and the signposting and promotion of a series of geotrails throughout the expanse of the Nature Park, connecting geological monuments, habitats, as well as historical, cultural and other tourist sites in the area, with the beautiful hamlets of the Park.
Educational activities in Sitia UNESCO Global Geopark are offered both by the Park’s staff and the Environmental Educational Center of Ierapetra which is located just southwest of the Park at the town of Ierapetra. Under a transnational project, two educational projects have been developed in the form of museum kits that are available at the two centres.