Lake Votomos – River Koutsoulidis

Lake Votomos – River Koutsoulidis

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Lake Votomos is a small lake, close to the village of Zaros on the southern side of the Rouvas forest. This small village on the foothills of Mount Psiloritis in central Crete is close to a lot of archaeological sites and monasteries but is mostly visited by those seeking to explore the natural beauty of the area. The E4 European long-distance path travels through the village; the north route takes you through the forest of Zaros towards the village of Asites.

Lake Votomos – River Koutsoulidis

Up until the end of the 1980s, north of the village of Zaros and right at the feet of the mountain, there was a small wetland centred on the spring of Votomos. A natural dip in the spring had allowed the wetland to develop. In 1987, with the assistance of the Ministry of Forests, a small artificial lake was created around the spring – which has become one of the most significant areas for woodland recreation in Crete. West of the Votomos lake, is the smaller spring of Sterna, whose name comes from the Roman cistern, that is still visible today. This engineering work is one of the greatest hydraulic feats achieved by the Romans in Crete – from here the water was led in a covered aqueduct all the way to Gortyn. Today, after some landscaping work in the area, and in combination with the plant-life and the natural environment of the river Koutsoulidis, Sterna is a place ideal for outdoor relaxation.

Of great ecological interest is the ecosystem of the river Koutsoulidis – whose waters start in the springs of Votamos and Sterna (whence the water supply for Gortyn, capital of Roman Crete came from). The river then continues on in the gorge of Agios Nikolaos, passing through Zaros village and the valley of the same name to end at the Phaneromenos dam. Its verdant banks, mainly so because of the plane trees, and the presence of a large population of eels, among other fauna, and the river striped-neck terrapin (Mauremys caspica) makes the river a place of exceptional value. In recent years the local authorities at Zaros have made great efforts to clean up the river and the two springs and retain this ecological treasure.

 

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