Mount Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece and is famous for being the home of the powerful Olympian gods of Greek mythology. It is located on the border between the Greek regions of Thessaly and Macedonia and is a short distance from the large city of Thessaloniki.

Mount Olympus is one of the most famous places from ancient mythology that one can actually visit. Mount Olympus in the north of Greece, as one comes up from Athens be sure to stop by in ancient Thermopylae - the battlefield of the famous 300 Spartans in en route.

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Mount Olympus In Greek Mythology

In Greek mythology, the gods dwelt on Mytikas's peak (the highest peak in Olympus). "Olympus" was the name of the home of the Twelve Olympian gods. Olympus was thought of as a lofty mountaintop and in all the regions that the Greeks settled they tended to so name the highest local elevation.

  • Mytikas: Highest Peak Rising to 2,917 Meters or 9,570 Feet (Means "Nose)

There are many peaks called "Olumpos" in antiquity including in Laconia, Mysia, Lycia, Cyrus, Attica, Euboea, Ionia, and Lesbos. This "Olumpos" in Greece is the highest peak of any of the Greek settlements and came to be seen as the "Pan-Hellenic" representative of the seat of the gods.

  • Herodotus: In The 5th Century BC Herodotus (1.56) Identified Olympus As The Peak In Thessaly

The twelve Olympians were the major deities of the Greek pantheon, they are normally considered to be Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Hephaestus, Aphrodite, Hermes, and the twelfth is thought of as either Hestia or Dionysus. Some say that later on Hestia surrendered her place to Dionysus.

They got their name "Olympians" because they lived on Mount Olympus. Besides the twelve Olympians, there were many other cultic groupings of twelve gods in the ancient Greek pantheon of gods.

  • Hades: Was The Brother of Zeus and The God of the Underworld and A Major God, But As His Domain (the Underworld) was Far From Olympus He Was Not One of the 12 Olympians

Related: Why Do We Eat Cake On Birthdays? Ancient Greece Has The Answer

Mount Olympus Today

Olympus was the first Greek National Park established in 1938. It is noted for its exceptional biodiversity and is a World Biosphere Reserve.

Mount Olympus has 52 peaks and deep gorges with Mytikas being the highest peak.

  • Designated: A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Since 1981

There are professional rangers and guides providing tours for groups in the mountain years. The Olympus National Park Information Center in Liochoro (opened in 2016) provides information about the geology, archeological sites, the monasteries, flora, fauna, and mythology of Mount Olympus.

There are many archeological sites in this area from ancient Greece and from the Christain era (with monasteries). The whole region of Pieria's Olympus has been declared an archaeological and historical site.

  • Archaeological Park of Dion: the Most Important Archaeological Site On Mount Olympus, Includes Sanctuaries From The Hellenistic and Roman periods

Hiking In Mount Olympus

It is a popular area for exploring and hiking for those who would like to admire its rich fauna and flora, see the stunning backdrop of its dramatic landscapes, and for those enamored with ancient Greek mythology.

There are various mountain refuges (shelters) and a number of mountaineering and climbing routes. The normal starting point for climbing Olympus is from the town of Litochoro or from the eastern foothills of the mountain.

If one is an experienced mountaineer, then it is not difficult to climb Mount Olympus - but still don't underestimate this imposing mountain of the gods. There are also several easy walks to the trailheads and around the scenic gorges.

A full trek to the Mount Olympus massif takes two or three days with at least one overnight in the trail refuges according to Trip Savvy. The trails vary in difficulty from III to VIII in international mountaineering standards and one should ensure one has the stamina for the task.

Related: The Mythological Guide To Greece: Destinations Every Fan Of Homer Has To Visit

Mount Olympus Enipeas Half-day Hiking Tour

One example of a guided tour in Mount Olympus is the Enipeas Half-day Hiking Tour. With this tour, one can discover the mythical splendor of Mount Olympus through the gorge of Enipeas.

On this tour one will see the old monastery of Agios Dionysios, hike the gorge of Enipeas, see the bathtub of Zeus, and hike for 5 hours through Mt. Olympus. One will hike for 12 kilometers or 7.5 miles immersed in the wilderness of Mount Olympus and its waterfalls, dense nature, old wooden bridges, and more.

  • Departure Time: 7.30 am
  • Return Time: 1.00 pm
  • Includes: English Speaking Mountain Guide, Pick up/Drop off, Snacks
  • Price: 80 Euros ($90)

Visit Olympus Travel offers many more half-day and full-day guided options in and around Mount Olympus.

Next: Mount Olympus: Is It Real, And How Can You Explore The Mythical Mountain?