Tag Archives: mt olympus

Mount Olympus & the Pantheon of ancient Greek Gods

There were a lot of places I wanted to visit as a child… like Pella (birthplace of Alexander) and Stagira (birthplace of Aristotle), but none were more important to me than Mount Olympus. It probably started with my ancient Greek history lessons while still a student in Greece, but it always stayed with me. The entire myth of the pantheon of the gods, their battle with the Titans over the mountain and the reverence of the ancient Greek people for the site fascinated me. To this very day I can imagine the ancients looking up at the mountain seeking guidance and spiritual enrichment. While it seems illogical to us now… one always needs to keep “context” in mind when dealing with history, ancient or otherwise.

This mountain represented everything that was sacred, powerful and spiritual to ancient Greeks. Everything that occurred in their lives was a result of the actions and wishes of the occupants of this mountain top. 

 

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The village under the mountain is a regular and favourite stop for me on the way to Northern Greece when visiting family. It’s a picturesque village in summer and a gorgeous wonderland of snow in winter. Litohoro is the popular starting point for all climbers and hikers of the mountain and it has grown considerably in recent years. The views of the mountain above and the coast line below make it a unique “alpine” village. It offers the best of both worlds in a tiny, spectacular package.  

 

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On the day that Alessi and I drove up there were clear skies and bright sunshine…unlike other times during winter when the whole mountain was covered in snow. During our last visit, fog and low cloud completely covered the peaks, making photography next to impossible. On this day however, it seemed perfect for our adventure… almost inviting us to explore and be enchanted by its beauty.

 

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It wasn’t long before the summit peaks became visible and the dramatic slopes became clear. I felt strangely privileged somehow. I can’t imagine the ancients ever contemplating climbing this sacred mountain. Evoking the wrath of the Gods was not something they would’ve risked…. electing instead to conduct pilgrimages to the low foothill sacred village of Thion. Being up here felt very special…    

 

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Then suddenly there they were….Poppy and her sisters, dancing in the light breeze,

 

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and the lush mountain scenery was breathtaking. It’s almost the middle of summer but the air was crisp and visibility perfect. The mountain wanted us to see it in all its mythical majesty….

 

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The whole of Mount Olympus was declared a national park in 1938 and the summit was first climbed back in 1913. It is known the world over as the mountain of the Gods and it’s name has been quoted in ancient history infinite times. It may not be the highest peak in the world…. but it must surely be one of the most famous mountains on this planet.  

 

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The whole mountain is covered in many different types of trees and this gives it unique colour depending on the time of year and the weather on the day. The lush green changes from light to dark almost hour by hour…. almost inviting you to sit and watch it. Once again….(like all sacred historical sites the world over) its one of those places that makes you think, your mind drifts and you go silent…lost in your own thoughts. 

 

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Suddenly…. in between the mountain conifers, we saw the summit peaks…the home of the ancient Gods. The Pantheon. Still covered in snow, it looked every bit as majestic as I had always imagined.   

 

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The map provides some context as to our viewing location….at Prionia. That’s as far as you can drive… at least in a normal car. But its far enough…

 

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it is my personal belief that nobody should be allowed to climb the summits of Mount Olympus. This is not a high peak by any measure, so it surely presents no challenge to mountaineers. It is a mystical, spiritual place and in my humble opinion it should remain untouched by day-trippers. Some things deserve to remain in the imagination…to be seen and admired from a distance. Olympus is not just a mountain…. 

 

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When I saw these my first thoughts were that for all of us that live in cities the world over… a visit to a mountain is something that should be compulsory. 
If only to remind us that no man-made structure could ever hope to match the beauty of nature. 

 

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Speaking of nature…. this is not “just” running water. Once again…if you live in a big city…. chances are you have never tasted “pure water”. It is a sad fact that all of us are now used to thinking that water purified with chemicals is perfectly “normal”. But…alas, it is NOT. This natural spring is fed from the mountain top and let me assure you…. you can taste the difference.

 

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As we started to make our way down we took one last look at the majestic mountain peaks in the background. The light had already changed and so had the colour of the tree-covered slopes….

 

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This is by no means a detailed overview of what you will find if you visit this part of Greece. There are waterfalls and streams, ravines and ancient caves
( some were once inhabited by hermits who became saints), monasteries and churches, beautiful small lodges & wonderful restaurants and of course…. magnificent ancient ruins at Thion (Dion), the sacred city of the ancient Greek world.

There are many picturesque mountain villages and miles of coastline below…. and then of course there is the mountain.

Not just any mountain….but Mount Olympus, home of Zeus, Poseidon, Athena, Apollo, Aphrodite and and and …..

Hope you enjoyed our adventure ;-)

 

PS: for more information on Mt Olympus and surrounding area you can drop me a line on oiadweller at yahoo dot com

 

 

 

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A mountain village & the wonder of discovery…

One of the greatest pleasures of travelling is the delightful discoveries you experience…often completely by chance. They can inspire you, transport you to another time and sometimes even change your life. But to do that you have to be willing to explore, to wonder, to go off the beaten path…

The small mountain village you are about to see is not on tourist brochures, holiday posters or TV ads inviting you to Greece. But then again most of the best places aren’t….in any country. You have to find them, you have to be willing to explore, take the narrow path, the small trail, the off-road that nobody goes on. To me…that’s the most delicious part of travel and exploration.

This small village is on the side hills of Mt Olympus and we discovered it last winter by chance. It was risky driving up with no chains at the time…. snow cover was almost half a metre, but the road was relatively clear and we took the chance. It was a decision that left everyone with the most memorable images of the Christmas holiday.

The village is high up…around 500m above sea level and the anticipation builds as one drives up the winding mountain road.

 

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The scenery slowly unfolds the higher up you drive and the lush green colours of the mountain side are a feast for the eyes. The car edges higher and higher and each turn brings a new surprise….

 

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Looking down the coastline begins to look like a painting and the endless aegean blue gives off the special light that has inspired so many poets and photographers over the years. Altitude gives you a different perspective of an area and Mt Olympus was beginning to weave its magic…   

 

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These pictures were taken this week…mid-June, a time of year where everything at sea level is already starting to turn a golden hue. But not up here…. here the mountain wears its’ lush green coat and the air is the stuff you wish you could bottle and take with you…

Then you take another turn…. and your jaw drops, the foot hits the breaks and you slowly get out to take in a sublime image like this:

 

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What you see in the distance is a medieval fort (more on that soon) which seems almost as if someone had painted it on the hills below. The colour and scent of the mountain…coupled with the scenery below are mesmerising….

 

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and then it suddenly appears. Nestled among the trees is a traditional mountain village…stone houses hugging the mountain side. It sits quietly, serenely, almost as if it’s waiting for you to discover it…

 

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The views are spectacular and the mountain air is so uplifting you feel like you want to run around like a child….exploring every nook and cranny of the whole village. Your  mind feels justified for making the decision to drive up…to discover…to explore…

 

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On entering the village you see details that make you realise a lot of thought has gone into maintaining its traditional charm and beauty. From the tree trunk pots, to the paving, to the stone houses… it seems every detail has been thoughtfully kept authentic, giving you a sense of stepping back in time.

 

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Mountain villages in Greece and throughout Europe have a different charm. The architecture is practical and honest…everything is done for a purpose and function is an essential part of the aesthetic. There is nothing fancy, nothing “showy”….yet it looks magical.

 

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As you wonder through the tiny village… each narrow, paved path leads you to another exquisite image. Its as if you’ve jumped into a storybook and you are living the experience…

 

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The houses are all made from local stone and the textures are perfectly blended… adding to the experience of being on a mountain. It is a credit to the residents, architects and local authorities that they have managed to maintain the tiny village in such an exquisite state and in such perfect harmony with its’ surroundings.

But there is more to this little village paradise than what you have seen so far….lots more. You see, the images above were taken this week…almost in the middle of summer in Greece. The village looks gorgeous, green and picturesque….

But when we first saw this tiny little treasure it was winter…. and if you think it looks nice in summer, then have a look at this:

 

 

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This…. my dear friends, is what we first saw when we discovered this little place in the middle of winter. The image has stayed in my mind ever since and hence the return visit with Alessi as we drove through this area again. It was simply stunning…a fairytale image that added to our delighted sense of discovery at the time.  

 

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The scenery of the snow covered village with the coast line below is breathtaking. The snow was fresh powder, the air crisp, clean & fragrant… and the feeling of having discovered this small treasure was fantastic.

Life is full of exquisite surprises if only you are willing to explore….to follow a small path or walk through a different door !

Cheers to a life of discovery ;-)  

 

A journey to mythical Greece…

There is business to take care of … so I have to go play with the grown ups for a few days. I know you all thought that I just sit here and look at the view all day… but not so. There are a number of projects I am working on and the time has come to meet with some people on mainland Greece for about a week.

BUT…. the good news is that my trip will take me passed some fascinating historical sites in Greece. One of these is Thermopylae, the site of the famous battle of the 300 Spartans against the Persians. I will also visit Mt Olympus…home of the ancient Greek Gods, as well as my own home town of Thessaloniki – a city with over 2,500 years of history.

There will be an incredible amount to be described and photographed and I’m looking forward to bringing you some interesting images of these mythical places.

I hope to be able to post along the way…and also explore some other ancient sites I have not visited before. It will be a journey back in time and I hope it will provide you with some revealing glimpses of ancient Greek history.

I hope you have a great week and join me in my journey in the coming days….

Till soon ;-)