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Kalderimi crossing the Aradena gorge on Crete

In the former Ottoman countries, a kaldırım (Turkish) or kalderimi (Greek καλντερίμι or καλντιρίμι; plural kalderimia) is a cobblestone-paved road built for hoofed traffic. Kalderimia are sometimes described as cobbled or paved mule tracks or trails.[1][2]

Kalderimia are typically 1–1.5 m wide.[3][4]

In Turkey, there existed urban kaldırımlar, notably the steep stepped Yüksek Kaldırım in Karaköy, Istanbul.

In Greece, the kalderimi network formerly linked almost every village, hamlet, chapel, and even sheepfold. These roads are paved with flat stones. As they are designed for foot and hoofed traffic, they have steps where necessary, made of stones laid vertically. On flat stretches, they may be unpaved. Kalderimia use switchbacks on steep ascents, and often have parapets next to steep slopes. When they cross streams, there may be paved fords.[5]

The Skala of Vradeto (Greek: Σκάλα Βραδέτου) is a well-known kalderimi in the Epirus village of Vradeto used to enter the Vikos Gorge.[6]


Kalderimia existed under the Ottoman Empire, and the name is Turkish, but it is not clear when they were first built. It is possible that, in Crete, they were originally Venetian roads.[5]


The name kalderimi comes from Turkish kaldırım 'pavement', from the verb kaldırmak 'to raise, erect'. Some sources derive it from Greek καλός δρόμος 'good road',[7] while others regard this as unlikely.[8]


  1. ^ Loraine Wilson, The High Mountains of Crete (Cicerone Mountain Guide), ISBN 1852845252, 2010, passim.
  2. ^ Brian Anderson, Eileen Anderson, Sunflower Guide Lesvos, 2007, passim
  3. ^ Edward W. Kase, The Great Isthmus Corridor Route: Explorations of the Phokis-Doris Expedition (Publications in Ancient Studies ; No. 3), 1991, ISBN 0840365381, p. 43
  4. ^ Rackham, p. 156, says 4.5 m, but this must be a typo for 4.5 ft.
  5. ^ a b Oliver Rackham, Jennifer Alice Moody, The Making of the Cretan Landscape, ISBN 071903647X, p. 156
  6. ^ Jack Johnson, ed., World's Great Adventure Treks, p. 45
  7. ^ Turkish etymologic dictionary nisanyansozluk
  8. ^ kaldırım is a regular Turkish formation from kaldır- 'to raise' + -im (deverbal noun suffix); also, both the Triantafyllides and the Babiniotis dictionaries of modern Greek show it as coming from Turkish, and do not show it as a reborrowing, which they normally do when it is.

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