The nature of Sifnos
Physical characteristics, flora and fauna of Sifnos.
Physical characteristics of Sifnos
Colorful wildflowers surround the rocks with aromas in spring, golden hillsides and blooming thymes welcome the summer, the sun sweetens the grapes and ripens the olives in autumn, cyclamens and anemones adorn the hills in winter.
Sifnos invites you to discover the natural beauties of the island all year round. A mosaic of landscapes with rare beauty unfolds before you. Walk the trails, rest a little in the shade of the cedars, cool off in unspoiled beaches and enjoy a genuine experience in nature complemented by authentic hospitality.
In the prehistoric times, Sifnos was uninhabited, as well as the rest of the Cyclades islands, with rich flora and fauna. This situation begun to change during the Neolithic period, when the islands have been inhabited and people began burning the forests in order to create fields and grasslands. That’s how the Cycladic landscape has been formed, as we know it today. Its main characteristic are the bushy vegetation, in the spaces that are cultivated as grassland, and the land terraces, in places where grain is cultivated, vineyards or a few olive trees.
There have been times when Sifnos and the neighboring islands could feed an importantly large population of residents when the islands were cultivated systematically. However, today most of the land terraces remain waste, as the residents are mainly into tourism.
The ground of Sifnos offers many crystallic and macrocrystallic marbles as well as other rocks. Ferrum and manganese ores appear today mainly at the locations Agios Sostis, Agios Silivestros, Virini, Kapsalo etc.
The ores in Sifnos were known since the antiquity. They are mentioned in the work of Pausanias, Herodotus, Stravonas and Plinios. here is the tradition that Sifnos was once rich in ferrum, lead, gold and silver and because the residents of Sifnos violated the order of Apollo according to which they should send as tribute to the Delphi one golden egg (they sent a gold-plated egg instead of a golden one), the groundswell caused the mines to disappear. The most popular mines in the antiquity were the mine of Agios Sostis and the mine of Kapsalos or Schismades.
The natural landscape of the island is mainly characterized by shrubby vegetation since the island does not boast high forests. As such, the trees that dominate the landscape are Schinus trees and a species of a small sized Cedrus ("fides" in the local dialect or scientifically "Juniperus Phoenicea"), which is a protected species. Besides that, in almost all the regions of the island, there is thyme, sage, wild mint, oregano, capers etc... A walk on one of the many trails of the island offers the visitor unique images and different colors and scents depending on the season.
One of the most beautiful wildflowers of Greece, the "lily of the sea", is grown in almost all the beaches of the island. This is a very special white lily, which grows in dunes, and remains bloomed all summer. It is close to extinction and therefore, is a protected species.
Colonies of the known marine plant "poseidonia oceanica" are formed on the seabed and are protected by European legislation.
Sifnos is a good passage for the migratory birds, such as herons, water loving birds, orioles, bee-eaters, turtle doves and many more water birds. Of course, there are birds that come to Sifnos and stay for the summer such as woodchat shrikes, swifts etc. There are also predatory birds such as Eurasian hobbies, Cory’s Shearwaters, Bonelli’s eagles, Peregrine falcons, Eleonora’s falcons etc.
Due to the wild beauty and uniqueness of the species, western Sifnos has been included in the NATURA 2000 network of the European Union.