Mt. Taygetos

Discover Sparta / Natural Beauty

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Mount Taygetos is one of the highest mountains in Greece, boasting a height of 2404 meters. Beautiful forests covering the middle mountain zone, fragrant  phrygana shrubs sprinkled in the lower parts of the mountain, gorges and ravines shaded by plane trees are all features of this landscape that will fascinate visitors. Its highest mountain peak, which is also the highest in the Peloponnese, is the Prophet Elias with a chapel of the same name. Every year on the 20th of July, pilgrims and trailblazers alike hike to the top and pay a visit to the chapel.

Other peaks of Mt. Taygetos include Sidirokastro (2340 m), Spanakaki (2024 m), Neraidovouna  (2020 m), Goupata (2031 m),  Koufovouni (1850 m) and Broken Mountain (2204 m) to name a few.

The eastern slopes of the mountain form many ravines which supply water to the Evrotas River.

The region is part of the Natura 2000 network of habitats and thus, significant infrastructure projects have been initiated for the development of mild ecotourism. Mt. Taygetos has been designated as an ‘Important Bird Area’ of Greece. The central region of Mt. Taygetos has been proposed as a candidate National Park of Greece, as it is a protected area with rare species of plants and animals, while its landscapes and ecosystems are fascinating.

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Mt. Taygetos has five distinguished vegetation zones:

  • The Mediterranean thickets are mainly made up of oaks (Quercus coccifera), wild olive trees (Olea europaea ssp. Oleaster), arbutuses (Arbutus unedo), lentisks (Pistacia lentiscus), heathers (Erica manipuliflora, Erica arborea) and other species of shrubs and small trees.
  • The Mountain Zone – an area of coniferous forests essentially made up of  two types of conifers: the Greek fir (Abies cephalonica) and the Black pine (Pinus nigra).
  • The Sub-Alpine Zone: at an altitude of 1600-1700 m and where the forests end, this zone features bare meadows and rock formations where trees and large shrubs do not grow.  Small perennial plants bloom here.
  • The Alpine Zone: starts at about 2000 m and reaches the highest peaks of Mt. Taygetos. In this area, trees have never sprouted.
  • Azonal vegetation: In the ravines and gorges where the climate is cooler, a peculiar vegetation has developed that is not affected by the altitude. The dominant species in this area are the Plane Tree (Platanus orientalis), the Myrtle (Myrtus communis), the Ivy (Hedera helix) and the Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus – castus).

The flora is extremely lush on Mt. Taygetos and includes more than 1,000 species of plants. Of these, 33 are indigenous to the region, including the Akouilegia of Taygetos (Aquilegia ottonis ssp. Taygeta), the Astragalos of Taygetos (Astragalus Taygeteus), the Giourinea of Taygetos (Jurinea Taygetea), the Kambanoula (Campanula topoliana ssp. Cordifolia) and the Hypericum of Taygetos (Hypericum Taygeteum). There are also many orchids, bellflowers and crocuses.

Today, the mountain is home to 19 species of mammals including foxes, rabbits, hedgehogs, ferrets, weasels, badger, and perhaps, jackals. Of the 87 species of birds that have been recorded, birds of prey include the Short-Toed Eagle, the hawk, the Golden Eagle, Bonelli’s Eagle, and many other birds such as magpies, blackbirds,  woodpeckers, pigeons, etc.  On Mt. Taygetos, 100 species of butterflies have been recorded, including the native Polyommatus menelaos.

A ravine with limestone slopes forming a deep incision in Mt. Taygetos ends near the village of Tripi.

Mt. Taygetos is also home to the Langada Climbing Park of the Greek Mountaineering Club of Sparta. The steep slopes of Langada offer a bold challenge for adventurous  climbers. The best season for climbing is from mid-May to mid-October. The orientation and altitude (approx. 800 meters) create pleasant climbing conditions,  even during the hot summer.