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Zaros: The Cretan Village that Became World Famous for its Water

Zaros is a beautiful village on Crete, sitting at the foot of Psiloritis mountain at an altitude of about 400 meters with a picturesque artificial lake fed by the Votomos spring.

The place has become a tourist attraction since 1987, but became world famous because of its exceptional natural mineral water coming from the Votomi spring.

Located 45 kilometres from Heraklion, Zaros belongs to the Municipality of Phaistos and has 2,150 residents. It became popular by word of mouth, after the wetland was turned to the artificial lake in 1987 and the beautiful natural surroundings added to its appeal.

Today, there is one more reason for visitors to flock to Zaros, since the village has become world famous for its water, with people visiting to see where this special, famous water springs from.

Zaros water is now exported to more than 20 countries, from Canada to China and from South Africa to Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Zaros SA is a grassroots company that was established by village residents in 1980. Built on the “socialist” model, 44 percent of the company belongs to the Municipality of Phaistos, while the remaining 56 percent belongs to 1,050 stockholders, all residents of the village or the surrounding areas.

The company’s production facilities are located outside Zaros, in the prefecture of Heraklion, on a plot of 19,000 square meters. Most of the company’s 70 employees are Zaros natives, while the board of directors is comprised of the Phaistos deputy mayor and local shareholders.

Amati spring

The water comes from the certified source of Amati, located at the foot of Psiloritis, at an altitude of 400 meters. It descends by natural flow from the source – a distance of 800 meters – and follows a path through carbonate rocks, ending in the feed basin. From there, and from a depth of 180 meters via pipelines, the water is taken to the factory of Zaros SA, where it is bottled to travel to Greece and abroad. Throughout the process, from pumping to bottling, there is no human touch or any kind of water treatment.

Zaro’s brand natural mineral water has been awarded best bottled water in the world for 2017 and this recognition has led to rapid growth of the last two years.

The competition (27th Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting) involved a total of more than 600 bottled waters from all over the world and the products were evaluated by 12 judges, including internationally renowned water tasters who took into account criteria such as odor, appearance, taste, aftertaste and texture.

The evaluation process took two days and four separate tests were performed for each water. Zaro’s water is characterized by excellent physicochemical and microbiological quality, high Ph and balanced calcium and magnesium ratio.

The Cretan water won the Gold Award in the “Bottled Water” category, leaving the famous Artesia from the Crystal Waterfalls of Michigan, USA second, and the Norwegian Svalbaroi Polar Iceberg Water in third place.

In 2016, Zaro’s had also been awarded the top European Best Taste Award, awarded by the Brussels Institute of Taste and Quality iTQi. In this case, the Cretan water was evaluated by 30 judges, members of prestigious caterers in Europe.

The high demand of the past two years has the company board searching for ways to increase production, which currently runs at a rate of 35,700 bottles per hour.

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