First compilation date
Date site proposed as SCI
Date site confirmed as SCI
Date site designated as SAC
National legal reference of SAC designation
Law 3937/29-3-11 (OJ 60 A)



The gorges have a great aesthetic value and they present an alternation of different landscapes, with a large variety of plants and animals. The flora consists of many endemic species, such as Limonium creticum, which is a local endemic. On the sandy beach, the turtle Caretta caretta lays its eggs, making the site one of the three most important places for C. caretta in Greece. The fauna also includes other ampbibians and reptiles, as well as mammals protected by the Bern Convention. There are also endemic invertebrates, some of them local endemics, such as the snails Albinaria terebra (endemic to South Crete), Helicopsis bathyptera (endemic to Crete and Karpathos), and Mastus turcidus (endemic to the Aegean).OTHER IMPORTANT SPECIES WITH MOTIVATION D.Plants: The endemic species Campanula creutzbergi, Campanula saxatilis ssp. saxatilis, and Crepis tybakiensis are characterized as "rare" in Greece in the IUCN list (1993) of threatened plants are they are also protected by the national Presidential Decree 67/81.Lithodora hispidula ssp. hispidula is endemic to E Aegean Islands, Kriti and W Turkey.Amphibians: Crete is the southern limit of the distribution of the frog Rana ridibunda. The species Hyla arborea ssp. cretensis and Bufo vitidis are protected by the national Presidential Decree 67/81.Reptiles: The snake Natrix tessellata has low and restricted populations. This species as well as the species Chalcides ocellatus, Coluber gemonensis and Lacerta trilineata ssp. polylepidota are protected by the national Presidential Decree 67/81. Mammals: The species Mustela nivalis and Erinaceus concolor are protected by the national Presidential Decree 67/81. Invertebrates: the snail Helix nucula has very limited populations in Crete.

Other characteristics

The site has two main parts. The first one is rocky with cliffs and gorges. The second one, includes a sandy beach, where the longerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) lays eggs, and the mouth of Geropotamos river. The site reaches up to Kokkinos Pyrgos, including two thirds of the coastline of Messara's bay.The gorges present continuous changes of landscape, especially Agiofarango gorge (the name literally means the "saint's gorge"). There are impressive cliffs and rocks. There is also a large variety of many small plant communities; amongst them, there are galleries with Nerium oleander, a small patch with Phoenix theophrastii, in theregion of Martsalos, a small forest with Juniperus phoenicea, Oleo-Ceratonion matorral, phrygana.


1) Ministry of Environment Physical Planning and Public Works. 1990. (Work Team: A. Legakis et al). Erevnitiko programma. Meleti ton akton tis kritis pou parousiazoun oikologikes diatarahes (Research Programme. Study of the coasts of Kriti that present ecological disturbances). Dept. of Biology. University of Crete, p. 228. (3.3., 6.1.).

2) Kentro Apografis Panidas Elladas (KAPE) - Centre for the Survey of the Greek Fauna (3.3).

3) Werner. 1938. Dia Amphibien und Reptilien Griechenlands. Zoologica 1-117. (3.2.d., 3.3.)

4) Wettstein O. 1953. Herpetologia aegea. Sitz-Ber. Osterr. Akad. Wiss. Wien, math.-naturw. Kl.(1) 162(9/10): 651-833 (3.2.d., 3.3).

5) Wettstein O. 1068. Zoologische Aufsammlungen auf Kreta: Amphibien und Reptilien. Ann. Matuhistor. Mus. Wien 72: 405-408 (3.2.d., 3.2.e.).

6) Ekonomidou E., 1988. Entopismos kai meleti ton ygroviotopon kai allon simantikon gia tin ornithopanida viotopon tis Kritis (Location and study of wetlands and of other important for Avifauna biotopes of Crete). Patras University (3.2.d., 3.3.).

7) National Statistical Service of Greece. 1986. Distribution of the country's area by basic categories of land use. Athens. p.224 (4.1, 4.5). 8) Zoological Museum, Dept. of Biology, Athens University. 1995. Apeiloumena, prostatevomena kai endimika eidi zoon tis Elladas (Threatened, protected and endemic animal species of Greece). Ed. A. Legakis (3.3, 4.2).

9) Georghiou K. 1995. Checklist of Endemic, Rare and Threatened Plants of Greece. Draft. University of Athens. (3.3, 3.4, 4.2)

10) Morgan V & C. Leon. 1992. Datasheets of Flora species for revision of Appendix I of the Bern Convention. Volume IV. endemic taxa of Cyprus, Greece and Turkey Nature and environment. Nature and Envrionment. No 63 p. 106. Council of Europe, Publishing and Documentaion Service, Strasbourg. (3.2.g.)

Reference: Natura 2000 data form, database release 7 Feb 2014