The environmental and cultural wealth of the island is clearly apparent, and the reasons behind its designation by ministerial decree in 1976 as a landscape of outstanding natural beauty are unmistakable.
In addition, a significant area of the island (about 20 square kilometers of rare natural beauty stretching from the mountain of Profitis Elias as far as the western coast of the island) was incorporated under the European NATURA 2000 Network of protected natural sites, designating it an area of broader interest subject to European legislative regulation.
The NATURA area of Sifnos, at an average altitude of 150 metres, is host to 39 species of bird, 19 rare, mainly endemic animals, and plant species. Among these are the protected variety of cedar uniperus-uniperus (dwarf juniper or ‘fida’ in the Sifnian dialect)
Growing in the terrestrial part of the area is an incredible wealth of different types of cedar, pistacia (‘schinos’), herbs, and wild olive trees. There are also a significant number of springs which are important water sources for the island. In the marine part of the protected area, there are swathes of underwater vegetation (Posidonia oceanica), and there is an impressively varied alternation between small coves and rocky shores.
Apart from its extraordinary natural beauty, the NATURA area exemplifies the harmonious coexistence of humans and nature.
The human structures scattered across the area blend seamlessly into their natural surroundings. Hundreds of metres of dry stone wall, the work of many people over the centuries, play an important role in reducing ground erosion, retaining precious soil and marking out land ownership boundaries. Monasteries and chapels are part of the landscape of the area too, including the Monastery of Profitis Elias, Panagia Toso Nero, Ai Yiannis tou Mavrou Choriou (of the Black Village), and the Taxiarchis tis Skafis. And of course, there are historical monuments, such as the Acropolis on the hill of Agios Andreas and the towers (6th to 3rd century BC) which are of special archaeological and cultural interest.
For more information about the ancient towers of Sifnos www.sifnos-towers.gr.