Coordinates: 39°58′10″N 20°43′42″E / 39.96944°N
20.72833°E / 39.96944; 20.72833
Vikos Gorge (Φαράγγι του Βίκου)
Vikos Gorge from Beloi
Vikos Gorge (Greek: Φαράγγι του Βίκου) is a gorge
Pindus Mountains of northern Greece. It lies on the southern
slopes of Mount Tymfi, with a length of about 20 km, depth
ranging from 120 to 490 m, and a width ranging from 400 m to only a
few meters at its narrowest part.
Vikos is listed as the deepest gorge in the world by the Guinness Book
of Records among others.
5 Human history
7 External links
The gorge is found in the core zone of the Vikos–
Park, in the
Zagori region. It begins between the villages of
Monodendri and Koukouli and ends near the village of Vikos (or
Vitsiko). The gorge collects the waters of a number of small rivers
and leads them into the
Voidomatis River which forms in the gorge. The
major part of
Voidomatis is only seasonal, and is permanent only at
the lowest part of the gorge. Vikos is also a site of major
scientific interest, because it is in almost virgin condition, it is a
haven for endangered species and contains many and varied ecosystems.
Panoramic view of Vikos Gorge.
The Vikos Gorge, with a length of 20 km (12 mi), walls that
range from 120–490 m (390–1,600 ft) deep, and a width
ranging from 400 m (1,312 ft) to just a few meters at its
narrowest part, is listed by the
Guinness Book of Records
Guinness Book of Records as the
deepest canyon in the world in proportion to its width, though
some gorge lobbyists contest that claim. The main part of the gorge
stretches from the village of Vikos to Monodendri, and attains a depth
of about 1,000 m (3,281 ft).
The landscape of the 20 km long gorge, 12 km οf which
belongs to the park's core zone, presents a diverse relief and is
characterized by abrupt altitudinal changes. Steep slopes and
precipitous rocky cliffs dominate in the middle and higher zones
respectively. Numerous gullies dissect both sides of the gorge and the
movement of water detaching various rocky materials creates extended
screes. The gorge, with a northwest-southeast direction, has been
carved over millions of years by the
Voidomatis River, a tributary of
the Aoos. The
Voidomatis is mostly seasonal, with year-round flow
occurring only in the lower part of the gorge.
Vikos Gorge is a deep cross section of the mountain, its slopes
expose a series of rock formations of various ages. The upper layers,
at a depth of 0–200 m (660 ft), consist of relatively
Eocene limestone, at a depth of 200 m
(660 ft)–700 m (2,300 ft) they consist of a stratum
Campanian era, while below 700 m (2,300 ft) they
Cretaceous limestone. In the deepest layers,
Jurassic dolomite is dominant. Sedimentary and lithological
investigation in the
Voidomatis basin revealed that the innermost
alluvial deposits consist of limestone-derived material, carried by
Voidomatis river from higher elevations by glacial action about
30,000 years ago. The subsequent (middle) deposits are the product of
de-glaciation and the extended run-off from the uplands about 20,000
years ago, while the outer unit is attributed to human activities
associated with pastoralism, which caused extended deforestation and
soil erosion. The
Voidomatis basin contains evidence for three
major phases of glaciation, with the two largest and earliest taking
place during the Middle Pleistocene. The final phase of glacial
activity probably occurred during the Last Glacial Maximum, between
22,000 and 20,000 ago.
During the large
Middle Pleistocene glaciations, surface runoff from
glacial meltwaters would have fed directly into the river channel
network because much of the upland limestone terrain was covered by
ice, and many conduits in the karst would have been choked with
sediment or permanently frozen. As a result, the glacier snouts came
close to the modern valley bottoms. In contrast, during interglacial
and interstadial periods, more effective coupling occurred between the
surface drainage network and the internal karst drainage system.
Since limestone dissolves as the water percolates through its pores,
an extended underground drainage system has developed, with caves and
channels that enlarge with time when their roofs collapse, producing
rocky exposures and perpendicular slopes, which is also the reason why
the water is scarce. Only when an impenetrable stratum is met, does
water appear on the surface.
A siginifcant number of herbs of the
Vikos Gorge and adjacent areas
within the Vikos-Aoos National park were regarded to have medicinal
properties and were once harvested by local healers, colloquially
referred to as "Vikos doctors" (Greek: Βικογιατροί,
"Vikoiatri"). These herbal healers used special recipes that were
often copies of ancient Greek recipes of
Hippocrates or Dioscorides
and became famous beyond the borders of Greece. The plants used in
these recipes include the lemon balm Melissa officinalis, Tilia
tomentosa, the spearmint Mentha spicata, the gas-plant Dictamnus
albus, St John’s Wort Hypericum perforatum, absinth Artemisia
absinthium, the very popular
Sideritis raeseri, known colloquially in
Greece as “mountain tea”, and the elder bush Sambucus nigra. A
chemical screening of these native plant species has shown that a high
number of them are characterized by biologically active
ingredients. A collection of 2,500 dried species of local plants
and herbs is exhibited in the local natural history museum in the
village of Koukouli.
One of the special local attractions is the existence of the chamois
(Rupicapra rupicapra), a rare species that lives at higher altitudes
far from human activity, especially at the rocky cliffs, for
example in Megas Lakos, a secondary ravine of the Vikos Gorge.
There is a natural viewing platform over the deepest part of the gorge
at Oxia, a location 3 km by a newly constructed road from the
village of Monodendri. Another viewpoint over the gorge is at Beloi,
on the eastern side of the gorge, accessible from the village of
A hiking trail descends into the gorge from Monodendri. The trail then
leads north through the gorge to the springs of the
from where paths lead out of the gorge to the village of
the north side of the gorge, or to the village of Vikos on the south
side of the gorge. It is also possible to hike south through the gorge
from Monodendri to the 18th century stone bridges near Kipi.
Important epipaleolithic artifacts have been unearthed from a rock
shelter on the banks of the Voidomatis. During the 9th–4th
centuries B.C., a small Molossian settlement existed between
Monodendri and Vitsa, including stone houses and two cemeteries that
have yielded important findings. However, for most of the
historical period the local population in the nearby villages was
sparse. The land adjacent of the Vikos gorge was mainly used for
pastoralism and supplying firewood.
^ a b Amanatidou, Despoina (2005). "A case study in Vikos-Aoos
National Park - Greece" (PDF). University of Freiburg. Retrieved
^ a b Guinness World Records 2005:
Special 50th Anniversary Edition.
Guinness World Records. 2004. p. 52.
^ *"Natura 2000 Data Form. Site code: GR2130009" (PDF). NATURA 2000.
2009. p. 8. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-16.
^ Hatzopoulou Magda. "About Greece-Landscape" (PDF). General
Secretariat of Information, Greece. p. 7.
^ Hellander Paul (2008). Greece. Lonely Planet. p. 335.
^ Amanatidou: p. 17
^ a b Hanlidou, Kokkini 1997, p. 2
^ Amanatidou: p. 21
^ a b Amanatidou 2005, pp. 21–22
^ Amanatidou p. 32
^ Woodward, Hamlin, Macklin, Hughes, Lewin 2008, p. 64
^ Woodward, Hamlin, Macklin, Hughes, Lewin 2008, p. 49
^ Woodward, Hamlin, Macklin, Hughes, Lewin 2008, p. 63
^ a b Hanlidou, Kokkini 1997, p. 1
^ Vokou, Katradia, Kokkini 1993, p. 1,8
^ Vokou, Katradia, Kokkini 1993, pp. 3–8
^ Facaros Dana; Theodorou Linda (2003). Greece. New Holland
Publishers. p. 434. ISBN 978-1-86011-898-2.
^ Natura 2000: p. 9
^ Amanatidou 2005, p. 29
^ Drakopoulou 2004, p. 26
^ Gowlett, J. A. J. (1987). "The Archaeology of Radiocarbon
Accelerator Dating" (PDF). Journal of World Prehistory. 1 (2): 22.
doi:10.2307/25800523. Retrieved 2013-10-16.
^ Papadopoulou 2008, p. 14
^ Amanatidou 2005, p. 34
Vikos Gorge website
Zagori region in Epirus, Greece
Aoös National Park: Vikos Gorge
History and society
Koinon of the Zagorisians
Monasteries: Saint Paraskevi
Saint John Rogovos