Karydi, Itanos


Karydi (Greek: Καρύδι) or Karidi, officially Καρύδιον (Σητείας), is a village in the highlands of east Crete, Greece, part of the municipal unit Itanos.[2] Under the Kallikratis Programme of 2011 it was made a local community (topiki koinoteta). Its chain of civic jurisdiction is as follows: municipal unit (demotike enoteta) Itanos, municipality (demos) Sitia, regional unit (periphereiakes enotetas) Lasithi, region (periphereia) Crete.[1] Until 2017 Karydi shared Itanos with Palaikastro, Zakros, and Mitato (Μητάτο). With the diminishment of Mitato village to no permanent residents the government abolished it in Presidential Decree No. 70/207 and turned over its settlements to Palaikastro.[3]

Καρύδιον (Σητείας)
local community (topiki koinoteta)
The village, situated below the crest of a ridge, photographer looking north to the sea of Crete from a high point of the Zakros mountains.
The village, situated below the crest of a ridge, photographer looking north to the sea of Crete from a high point of the Zakros mountains.
Etymology: "walnut," application uncertain
Easr Crete. Karydi is in red; Lasithi in pink and red. The large-size coastal communities reflect the presence of the mainly uninhabited Zakros mountains.
Easr Crete. Karydi is in red; Lasithi in pink and red. The large-size coastal communities reflect the presence of the mainly uninhabited Zakros mountains.
Coordinates: 35°07′53″N 26°10′14″E / 35.1313154855°N 26.1704628020°E / 35.1313154855; 26.1704628020Coordinates: 35°07′53″N 26°10′14″E / 35.1313154855°N 26.1704628020°E / 35.1313154855; 26.1704628020
CountryHellenic republic
Region (periphereia}Crete
Regional unit (periphereiakes enotetas}Lasithi
Municipality (demos)Siteia
Municipal unit (demotike enoteta)Itanos
Local community (topiki koinoteta)2011
Elevation566 m (1,857 ft)
Time zoneUTC+2:00 (Europe/Athens)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+3:00 (Eastern European)
ISO 3166 codeISO 2:GR; ISO 3:GRC

The population record, and to some extent the population, varies to such a degree that it is not possible to find credible documantation of it.[i] The Greek-speaking population is on the move from the country to the city, from the hill villages, which in many cases are closing down, to the ports and the plains. Athens, once a ruined and nearly abandoned city, now is home to half the population of Greece.

The cities offer a full run of services available to any large city in Europe. In the case of Itanos the movement is from the settlements to Palaikastro and Siteia.[4][ii] The latter, housing several thousand, has the airport and seaport, the hospital and the educational institutions. The villages are by no means isolated. They are connected to Siteia by good roads, automobiles, and a bus service. In addition to making wine and oil, herding sheep and growing fruits and vegetables, they cater to the tourist business, resulting in an increase of summer populations in villages otherwise abandoned or nearly so.[5] Some industry also has found a place in the rural countryside, dotting it with scattered factories.[6] The improvement of the power grid has made this last trend possible.

Karydi is a community with a long tradition. It first appears in the deeds and maps of the 16th century, although not in the Venetian census of 1583.[2] The name appears to be based on the Greek word for walnut. There are, however, no walnut trees in the area.[7][iii] By chance a plaque of the times embossed with a walnut tree was found at Koutsounara, which might be hypothesized to be a heraldic symbol.[8] Perhaps a family displaying that symbol founded Karydi. Koutsounara, however, is on the south coast. Any supposition of a heraldic symbol or an unknown family or any connection to Karydi is entirely guesswork.


The higher mountains of Crete are not in east Crete. Its geology features parallel rows of NE-SW trending hills or low mountains up to a few thousand feet, mostly less, broken by cross-ravines draining to the ocean or the nearest valley.[9] The terrain is karst, full of caves and deeply-cut crevices.[10] A ravine can be a steep-sided gorge displaying rare or endemic plants, home to endemic birds and reptiles, or unusual configurations of minerals, or it can be a grassed and forested valley, typically used for agriculture and especially dendriculture. The soil is very fertile.

Otherwise the terrain is arid, grassless, and covered with a scattering of drought-resistant shrubs. Streams are intermittent, running in steep-sided chasms. Settlements are never found on the dry heights, always in or on the ravines. The road network also follows the ravines, usually built on their sides to avoid rockfall and intermittent flooding problems. The heights are abandoned except that in the late 20th and early 21st centuries scattered wind and solar farms have been placed there by the Public Power Corporation. Crete has nationalized, plug-in power, which it offers as a network fed by many sources. There is a wind farm near Toplou, and a solar farm near Karydi.

The easternmost row of elevations in Crete is the Coastal Hill Range, which sits partly in the Srait of Kasos. The next rows to the east, known generally as the Siteia (or Sitia, or Sitiaka) mountains,[11] institute a certain degree of isolation from the rest of Crete, which probably fostered the political independence of east Crete. The Siteia mountains are subdivided into two rows, the Zakros mountains on the east, and a row comprising, south to north, the Thrypti range, the Ornon range, and the Western Siteia Foothills on the west.

Between the two is the valley of the intermittent Rema Pentelis,[12] where Rema means "river," which flows for about 17 km (11 mi)[iv] due north from the vicinity of the highland plateaus of the Zakros mountains called Handros and Armeni (hence Handro-Armeni valley) after the settlements, about opposite Azali to the Bay of Sitia just east of Sitia. The lower river is totally controlled. Karydi sits in the middle of the massif of the Zakros Mountains. At that point a ravine crosses from the heights near the Pentelis valley to the Zakros Basin on the other side, which is the valley between the Zakros Mountains and the Coastal Hill Range.

In 2015 the Siteia mountains were defined to be Sitia UNESCO Global Geopark[10] to protect its gorges, its 170 caves, and its numerous plant and animal fossils. The park area is 517 km2 (200 sq mi).


  1. ^ First, it is necessary to distinguish between permanent residents and all residents, a distinction seldom made on the Internet. Second, documents are likely to reflect figures from any version of the 2001 or 2011 censuses. The 2021 figures will not be out until 2024; meanwhile, only various versions of 2011 are available, and they all vary.
  2. ^ "Gradually since the turn of the century people had been filling in and settling the maritime plain, but even after the Second World War the municipality, e.g. the post office, the police (4 of them) and the local school was at Karydi, ...."
  3. ^ "Strangely, although Karydi means “walnut”, there is no sign of walnut trees in the village, though there are mulberry trees."
  4. ^ From the distance-finder feature of Google maps. The upper river being intermittent for most of the year, it is difficult to ascertain in the ravine just where the water takes its flow.


  1. ^ a b "Karydi". buk.gr. Retrieved 19 June 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Karidi". Crete Today. Retrieved 14 April 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ "Συγχώνευση Τοπικών Κοινοτήτων Μητάτου και Παλαικάστρου Ιτάνου Σητείας ("Merger of Local Communities of Mitatos and Palekastro Itanos of Sitia")". Καλλικράτης. 27 July 2017.
  4. ^ Cunningham, Tim. "1". TFC thesis chap. 1; Palaikastro Crete (MA). Academia. p. 5. Retrieved 22 June 2022.
  5. ^ Fassoulas 2013, p. 22
  6. ^ Fassoulas 2013, p. 27
  7. ^ Mackridge, Peter (2020). "31. Toplou". The Crete of R.M. Dawkins (1903-1919). Oxford: University of Oxford. p. 350.
  8. ^ Biopolitics International Organization (2013). "Karidi" (PDF). Lasithi-Biotourism Map. Monuments of Nature and Culture. Ministry of Nature and Culture. ISBN 978-960-7508-59-1.
  9. ^ Fassoulas 2013, "Geological Map of the Area"
  10. ^ a b "Sitia Unesco Global Geopark (Greece)". UNESCO. Retrieved 23 June 2022.
  11. ^ "Mountains of Crete: Sitiaka". cretanbeaches. Retrieved 23 June 2022.
  12. ^ "Rema Pentelis". Google Maps. Retrieved 23 June 2022.

Reference bibliographyEdit

  • Fassoulas, Charalampos; et al. (2013). Ecotouristic Guide of Sitia Nature Park (PDF). Heraklion: Natural History Museum of Crete et al. ISBN 978-960-367-035-3.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Karydi, Itanos at Wikimedia Commons