Petrified Forest of Lesvos pronounced top European Geopark

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The Petrified Forest of Sigri was pronounced top European Geopark for the the period 2011-2014 by UNESCO's Global Geoparks Network.

The Petrified Forest, covering an area of 15,000 hectares enclosed between the villages of Eressos, Antissa and Sigri,  is one of the largest parks containing fossilised forests in the world. Its formation is directly related to the intense volcanic activity on Lesvos island during late Oligocene - middle Miocene periods. Along with the volcanic activity, hot solutions of silicon dioxide penetrated and impregnated the volcanic materials that covered the tree trunks.

One of the most famous attractions is the largest fossil tree trunk in the world, with a circumference of 13.7 metres and a diameter of 3.7 metres in the forest's Plaka Sigriou park, while the smaller Sigriou park contains an entire fossilised root system of several trees. Isolated plant-fossils have also been found in many other places on the island, including the villages Molyvos, Polichnitos, Plomari and Akrasi.

The Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified Forest has created a network of paths entitled “The Lava Paths” in the framework of the Community Initiative INTERREG II program. These paths link various geotopes along the courses carved out by the burning rivers of lava and pyroclastic material from the lips of the volcanic craters down to the Petrified Forest 20 million years ago.

 

There is also a series of footpaths of particular geotouristic value that begin from the two main paths. These footpaths are of particular geological, archaeological, cultural and aesthetic interest. The region offers many alternative forms of tourism, such as eco-geotourism, which contributes to the economic and social growth of the region and is one of the most important results of the creation of the "Geopark of the Petrified Forest".

The rich cultural history of the region of the Petrified Forest includes two of six ancient towns of Lesvos: Antissa- birthplace of the musician and poet Terpander – and Eressos – birthplace of the poet Sappho and the great father of modern philosophy, Theophrastus, who is also considered the father of modern ecology. The acropolis of Eressos, the early Christian Basilica of Agios Andreas, the Ipsilou, Perivolis and Pitharios monasteries and the Sigri castle are some of the most important monuments of the region.

Also to be seen are many examples of folk architecture such as bridges, watermills, traditional olive presses as well as various stone structures for farming which bear witness to the long presence of mankind in the region, as well as a unique folk tradition which remains alive due to the efforts and high spirits of the area’s inhabitants.

http://www.lesvosmuseum.gr/site/home.csp

 

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