Τhe mountain of Gods
Olympus is the most popular mountain in Greece and reaches 2.918 meters with its peak, Mytikas. It is very well known worldwide due to ancient Greek mythology and the fact that it was the residence of the twelve gods.
Mount Olympus is located on the border of Macedonia and Thessaly between the prefectures of Pieria and Larissa. The highest point of Mount Olympus, Mytikas, is located 263 km from Athens, 78 km from Thessaloniki, 18 km from the coast of Pieria and 24 km from Katerini. Mount Olympus comprises a circular massif covering an area of 500 km2.
The whole Olympus has been declared an archaeological and historical place in order to preserve its monuments and historical physiognomy.
Where to Go
The ideal time to go to Olympus is of course in the summer. If you want to climb to the top you have to have good weather, it is not enough just to be summer.
Olympus has some of the hardest mountain slopes in the country and you should be very careful if you do not have the relevant experience. The ideal season is obviously summer time as winter conditions are only for professional climbers. At the peaks of Olympus (Mytikas, Stefani and Skolios) 64 climbing routes have been developed with varying degrees of difficulty for each. Above the village of Litochoro is the climbing field of Zilnia with a large number of routes as well as organized slopes and an artificial climbing track.
Below are some of the Mount Olympus attractions
Olympus National Park
It is probably the most important national park in the country and covers an area of 3900 acres. Founded in 1938, it is an important shelter for many mammals, as well as an impressive variety of low-altitude shrubs, many pines that form dense forests at the heights and a strong presence of the red lily at high altitudes. The flora and fauna of the area are of great scientific interest, for example, one of the endemic species of the forest, Jankea helreichii, is a relic of the ice age. Apart from science, however, the Olympus National Park is also ideal for many activities, such as climbing, cycling and walking. There are several shelters in case you wish to stay overnight.
Access: Access to the Olympus National Park can be done from Litochoro. From there, the only motorway that leads to the forest and connects the village with the Prionia at an altitude of 1000 meters.
Litochoro is a small town built on the foothills of Mount Olympus with a population of approximately 7,000. It is located at an altitude of 300 meters and is the starting point for most walkers as well as climbers who wish to conquer the mountain of Olympus. The area from Litochoro to Leptokaria, located at the sea, is called Plaka Litochoro. In the opposite direction is the mountain and its view really looks like it covers the village. At Litochoro you will find many tavernas to enjoy the traditional Greek cuisine, cafes as well as many accommodations such as hotels, rooms, villas, hostels and mansions. Finally, at Litochoro, the first International Cultural Center is set up to promote Alexander the Great.
Access: Access to Litochoro is via the E75 (Athens-Thessaloniki National Road), via the KTEL from Katerini and Thessaloniki and finally via the Litohoro railway station, which is a station of the Athens-Thessaloniki line.
Monasteries of Mount Olympus
From the various monasteries of Olympus, the most important and most famous monastery is undoubtedly the Holy Monastery of St. Dionysios of Olympus, 17 kilometers away from Litochoro. The monastery consists of the old church and the new monastery located 3 km from Litochoro which means access is very easy – even on foot. The history of the monastery begins in 1542, but in 1943 it was destroyed by the Germans and in 1950 it was moved to its present location in Metohi. Since 1999 there is a modern Museum of Sacrament in which valuable heirlooms are preserved. The monastery is open from sunrise to sunset. On the other side of Mount Olympus is the Holy Trinity Monastery of Sparmos, built at an altitude of 1320 meters and 7.5 kilometers north of the village of Karyas. The monastery was founded in 1640, but it was completely burned down by the Turks in 1833 and a small temple was built in 1913. 5 km from the village of Karya, at an altitude of 820 meters, lies the Holy Monastery of Kanalon. The monastery is dedicated to the Birth of the Virgin Mary. On the northern side of Olympus is the Holy Monastery of Petra, at an altitude of 430 meters, the monastery hosts the premises of the psychiatric hospital. Near the village of Kontariotissa in Katerini is a female monastery dedicated to the great father of the church the Venerable Ephraim the Syrian. This is the only monastery in the world dedicated to St. Ephraim the Syrian.
Dion is a small village of immense historical importance, built on the foothills of Olympus. Its first reference is found in a text of Thoukididis in 424 BC, while the golden age of Dion is considered the time of Alexander the Great, during which Dion had become a religious and cultural center similar to Delphi and Olympia. Of course the name of the village, as you can easily guess, comes from Zeus(Dion). Very near the village is the archaeological site. Archaeological excavations began in 1928 and since then impressive findings of Ancient Macedonia have come to light. Some of the most important are the sanctuary of Isis and other gods of Egypt, the temple of the Aphrodite, the ancient sanctuary of Demeter, a Hellenistic theater of the Philip II era, the Roman theater of the 2nd century, the stadium, the mansion of the god Dionysus with the wonderful mosaics, cemetery, shops, stone columns, conservatory, walls, musical instruments and baths. The findings are displayed in the Dion Museum, which has been operating since 1983.
The museum has three floors and is divided into sections according to the areas analyzed. So, if you come to Olympus, you should not miss the opportunity to visit Dion and spend a day admiring the achievements of the Ancient Macedonians. If you still find yourself in Dion at the end of spring, then you will have the opportunity to attend the annual cultural events, Dia.
Walking paths and routes of the mountain Olympus
Olympus offers 29 mountain routes that you can follow and enjoy the lush nature of the mountain. The most famous route, and ideal for the non-experienced, is the route from the “Miloi” area, which is situated at an altitude of 400 meters and is very close to Litochoro and ends at Prionia at an altitude of 1100 meters. It is part of the E4 international walking route and is considered as a moderate difficulty path while its duration is 4 to 5 hours.
There are many other routes, some of which are difficult and dangerous, so you should know your possibilities, for a detailed list of all the routes follow the website of the National Park of Olympus that explains them in detail.
- Agia Korea – Kopanula – Diesselos Elatos
- Saws – Zolota Shelter – Skala – Mytikas (2.917 m)
- Saws – Zolota Shelter – Muses Plateau (SEO)
- Gorcya – Muses Plateau (Kakalos)
- Vrysopoules – Ag.Antonis
- Agia Triada Vrontous – Shelter Beds – Rachi Barbala – SEO Shelter
- Rema Naum – Kazania – Doors – Muses Plateau (SEO)
- Plateau of Muson (SEO) – Mytikas (2.917 m) – Gournes plateau – Spilies (road)
- Reddish – Stallgate Gorge – Gournes – Mytikas plateau (2.917 m) – Kalogeros – Livadaki –
- Prions – Enipeas – Litochoro
- Shelter SEO – Petrostroya – Rema Orlia or Uralia
- Shelter Beds – Papa Stream – Agii Apostoli
- Litochoro – Manna – Cello
- Litochoro – Kato Pigadaki
- Karya – Bechte – Kato Pigadaki
- Litochoro – M. Dionysiou
- Karitsa – Araplakos
- Ag. Vassilios – Vrisi Krania – Rema Orlia
- Vrontou – Kleftovrisi
- Robomlaki – Petrostrouga
- Winter crossing from the crossroad of Livadi – Voulgaras Olympos peak – descent in Agios Dimitrios
- Caves – Karachini – Barbalas – Mytikas – Skiing – Caves
- Cirkia – Rema Papa
- Rim of Koromilia
- Saw blades – Eggplant – Kalogeros
- Rachi Papamisiotis – Frago Aloni
- Old Panteleimonas – Kathis – Top of Metamorphosis – Kallipech
- Naum Cut – Input variation
- Old Leptokarya – Ano Pigadi
Olympus has some of the hardest mountain cliffs in the country and you should be very careful if you do not have the relevant experience. The ideal season is obviously summer time as winter conditions are only for professional climbers. At the peaks of Olympus (Mytikas, Stefani and Skolios) 64 climbing routes have been developed with varying degrees of difficulty levels for each. There are organized cliffs and an artificial climbing walls. Above the village is the climbing field of Zilnia with a large number of routes.
Shelters of Olympus
If you have an idea of an overnight stay on the mountain, then at Olympus you will find nine shelters. The best-known refuge is Refuge A “Spilios Agapitos” (tel. 23520-81800 or 81329). It is built in the location “Balcony” at an altitude of 2100 meters and has a restaurant and can accommodate up to 110 people. Shelter B “Vrysopoules or KEOAX” (tel. 24930-62163 or 23467) is located in the Mavratza gorge, on the south side of the mountain and at an altitude of 1800 meters. The shelter belongs to the army and needs a pre-consultation with the military unit via the phone.
The shelter “Christos Kakkalos” (tel 6937361689) is situated at the edge of the Muses Plateau at a height of 2650 meters and offers spectacular views of the peaks. The Refuge D, “Stavros” or “Dimitrios Boudoulas” is the only refuge that one can approach by car as it is on the Litochoro-Prionia road at an altitude of 944 meters. Its cuisine offers many dishes at a friendly price and a visit is recommended to enjoy your meal overlooking the plain of Pieria and the sea. The shelter SEO, “Yosos Apostolidis” (tel 2310-224710) is the highest Greek refuge and is located at an altitude of 2700 meters next to the peak “Prophet Elias”. Other shelters are Petrostrouga(tel. 6977 246350), Krevatia (tel. 23520 83000), Bedoudia Vrontous, Koromilies Leptokarias (tel. 23520 31242) and Koromilia Dion(tel. 6945 661104).
Running with the gods
A unique Marathon that takes place in early September each year since 1986. The starting point is from the shelter of “D. Boudoulas “at an altitude of 940 meters and 8 km from Litochoro. The route is 41 km in total with great altitude changes and ends at Litochoro Square after about 5 hours. Participation for 2011 costs 20 euros. Participants are mostly Greeks, but there are also people from other countries of the world.