Cretan Nature

The high mountains are one of the characteristics of the Cretan landscape. They are composed of limestone. The geological upheavals which created basins and plateaux also formed a large number of impressive caves, many of which were used for religious purposes during antiquity.

The mountains of Crete make up a section of the Dinaric -Taurus chain, which starts in the Dinaric Alps and comprises the mountains of Albania, Pindus, the Peloponnese, Kythira - Antikythira, Crete, Karpathos and Rhodos, and ends in Taurus in Asia Minor.

These massifs form three large mountain complexes, each with its own personality. Between the ranges lie the mountainous or semi - mountainous zones which cover the greater part of the land.

One of the principal features of the Cretan landscape is the many ravines which cut through the island from north to south. Most of them start in the mountainous zone and end near the sea. Their role in preserving the rare flora and fauna of the island is enormous, because they are the only regions that remain far - removed from all human activity. The best known, both for its size and its beauty, is the Gorge of Samaria, the famous "Pharangas" which is 18 km. long and which ranges from 3 m. wide at its narrowest point to 150 m. and requires five to seven hours to traverse.