Extremely rich nature of Parnonas has to offer a lot of excitement for well intentioned visitor. Even today, its vegetation, habitat types and flora maintain a high ecological value. Gorgeous plateaus, numerous peaks, gorges, unique wild beauty and deep valleys form the versatile terrain of Parnonas. The area is also full of many other natural beauties such as waterfalls, caves, springs and streams.
In the region of mountain Parnonas there are more than 15 types of habitats, many of them are of particular interest such as extensive woodlands of Pinus nigra, forests with Juniperous drupaceae in the Malevi monastery region, the chestnut trees in Kastanitsa, the coastal wetland of Moustos, south of Astros, the ravine of Dafnonas etc. Moreover, the area of Parnona is rich in amphibian and reptile fauna. At least 26 species of amphibians and reptiles have been recorded in the area, two of which are endemic to Greece and two to the Peloponnese.
The whole area has been designated as a National Park of Parnonas. It has been identified and formally institutionalized in 2008 with the name Eco Park Parnona – Moustos. Several areas have been identified as particularly important for nature conservation, not only at National but also at European level and are registered in the Science Catalogue. Parnonas range has been designated as Protected Area of Natura 2000 and now it belong to the European network of sites Natura 2000.
At first glance mount Parnon, with its “naked” tops dominating the landscape, seems “fruitless” and “poor”. In reality, however, the region hides a priceless flora. The geological history, the odd weather conditions and the intense dismemberment of many peaks, ravines, streams, etc., have created an impressive variety of ecological conditions, ideal for the development of many different plants. In Parnon there is not yet a complete and systematic record of the plants, which would require several years of work. So far, the evidence gathered at the universities of Patras and Copenhagen, has formed a list with more than 900-1.000 species and subspecies of plants.
Among the plants of Parnon there are many common species, but also many rare. Overall, they have been recorded and recognized until now 113 rare plants, some of which are unique in Europe, as local endemic plants of Parnon and some rare Asian species. Others are still endemic only in southern Peloponnese and Greece in general.
Endemic plants of southern Peloponnese that exist in Parnon
Greece is a country in Europe that is famous for its endemic plants. Some of these species or subspecies occur only in certain regions of Greece, while others are more wide spread. Mount Parnon displays rare plants for our country or Asian species which no other European country has. In Parnon there have been recorded so far 69 species and subspecies that are endemic to the Peloponnese with little or endemic spread throughout Greece. There have been recorded 11 rare species and subspecies, with the most important Juniperus drupaceae and many others.
As locally endemic plants of Parnon are characterized these plants that do not exist in any other part of the world except in mount Parnon. There have been recorde so far the following endemic species:
- Viola parnonia
- Asperula elonea
- Asperula malevonensis
- Astragalus agraniotii
- Draba strasseri
- Centaurea laconica
- Centaurea athoa ssp. parnonia
- Cyclamen repandum ssp. peloponnesiacum var. vividum
- Matricaria rosella
- Minuartia wettsteinii ssp. parnonia
- Nepeta orphanidea
- Petrorhagia grandiflora
- Potentilla arcadiensis
- Silene laconica
- Stachys chrysantha
The establishment of a national list of recommended areas for inclusion in the network “Natura 2000” took place through the program “Registration, Recognition, Assessment and Mapping of habitat types and species of flora and fauna of Greece (Directive 92/43)”. The program was implemented by the Hellenic Center Biotope – Wetlands (EKBY) in collaboration with the Universities of Thessaloniki, Patras and Athens.
The Protected Area occupies a large area (1,140 sq. km.) and includes six areas which are included in the Science list of which five were included in the European Ecological Network “NATURA 2000” (symbolized by *) (SAC: Special Areas of Conservation, SPA: Special Protected Areas)and one Important Bird Area (IBA) of the Hellenic Ornithological Society.
- SΑC – Moustos Lagoon (GR 2520003)*
- SAC – Monastery of Elona and the Leonidio Gorge (GR 2520005)*
- SAC – Mount Parnon summits and area of Malevi monastery (GR 2520006)*
- SAC – Mounts Gidovouni, Chionovouni, Gaidourovouni, Korakia, Kalogerovouni, Koulochera and area of Monemvasia (GR 2540001)*
- SPA – Mounts of Eastern Laconia (GR 2540007)*
- IBA – Mounts of Eastern Laconia (GR123)
- Mount Oriontas (GR 2520004)
Apart from the numerous and remarkable cultural and religious monuments one cannot miss natural monuments of mount Parnon. Specifically, mount Parnon is carved by deep ravines which can be seen from the sea.
Torrents and streams flow in these ravines such as Vrasiatis torrent (Zarmpanitsa Gorge), Spilakia stream near Platanos village, Loulougas stream near Sitaina village, Koutoupou stream near Kastanitsa village and Mazia stream near Prastos village.
Koutoupou, Loulougas and Mazia streams merge in “Tripotama” place and form Vrasiatis torrent. The torrent’s name comes from the ancient city of Vrasies located near Leonidion. Loulougas gorge merges Koutoupou gorge and then reaches Mazia gorge. Actually, Loulougas gorge is the first of a series of gorges merging from the top of “Megali Tourla” (the highest peak of mount Parnon) to the gulf of Ag. Andreas village (Loulougas, Koutoupou, Mazia, Spilakia and Zarmpanitsa gorges). Vrasiatis torrent after collecting the waters from all the streams creates the impressive Loulougas gorge, which is one of the most beautiful trails in Greece. Also, it is considered as one of the most beautiful gorges in Greece with impressive waterfalls, small lakes and caves. Visitors are impressed by the natural beauties of the area. The gorge formed dozens of small waterfalls and countless small lakes between plane trees and walnut trees. An impressive natural monument is the big waterfall whose waters fall from a height of 30-40 meters forming a small lake. The walls of the cliffs on both sides formed impressive caves.
Along the canyon also formed many impressive caves, such as those of “Karachalios” and “Kaliotzis”. The route continues in an equally spectacular scenery, with relief formations, beautiful lakes and towering cliffs. In a cavity, the visitor can find the castle of Zangolis and the chapel of Panagia. The Loulouga gorge annually attracts many mountaineering clubs and various walkers. Overall, the most known gorges running from the top of mount Parnon to the Gulf of Ag. Andreas in Myrtoan Sea are:
- Loulougas Gorge,
- Mazia Gorge,
- Zarmpanitsa Gorge,
- Spilakia Gorge,
- Lepida Gorge.
For more information, visit: www.fdparnonas.gr