Mount Olympus from the west
|Elevation||2,918 m (9,573 ft)|
|Prominence||2,355 m (7,726 ft)|
|Listing||Country high point
|Range||Macedonia and Thessaly, near the Gulf of Salonika|
|First ascent||2 August 1913
Christos Kakalos, Frederic Boissonnas and Daniel Baud-Bovy
|Easiest route||Hike, some rock scramble|
Mount Olympus (/, /; Greek: Όλυμπος; also transliterated as Olympos, and on Greek maps, Oros Olympos) is the highest mountain in Greece and the second highest mountain in the Balkans. It is located in the Olympus Range on the border between Thessaly and Macedonia, between the prefectures of Pieria and Larissa, about 80 km (50 mi) southwest from Thessaloniki. Mount Olympus has 52 peaks, deep gorges, and exceptional biodiversity. The highest peak Mytikas, meaning "nose", rises to 2,917 metres (9,570 ft). It is one of the highest peaks in Europe in terms of topographic prominence.
Olympus was notable in Ancient Greek Mythology as the home of the Twelve Olympians, on the Mytikas peak. Mount Olympus is also noted for its very rich flora with several species. It has been the first National Park of Greece, since 1938, and a World's Biosphere Reserve.
Every year thousands of people visit Olympus to admire its nature, to tour its slopes, and reach its peaks. Organized mountain refuges and various mountaineering and climbing routes are available to visitors, who want to explore its nature. The usual starting point for it is the town of Litochoro, on the eastern foothills of the mountain, 100 km from Thessaloniki, where, in the beginning of every summer, the Mountain Olympus Marathon terminates.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (March 2014)|
The shape of Olympus was formed by rain and wind, which produced an isolated tower almost 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) above the sea, which is only 18 kilometres (11 mi) away at Litochoro. Olympus has many peaks and an almost circular shape.
The mountain has a circumference of 150 kilometres (93 mi), an average diameter of 26 kilometres (16 mi), and 600 square kilometres (230 sq mi) of area. To the northwest lies the Vlach village of Kokkinoplou. The Makryrema stream separates Olympus from the massif of Voulgara. The villages Petra, Vrontou and Dion lie to the northwest, while on the eastern side there is the town of Litochoro, where Enipeas bisects the massif of Olympus. On its southeastern side, the Ziliana gorge divides Mount Olympus from Kato Olympos (Lower Olympus), while on its southwestern foothills, there are the villages Sykaminea and Karya. The Aghias Triadas Sparmou Monastery and the village Pythion lie to the west.
Olympus is one of the relatively later mountains of Greece, as it is estimated that the age of its main rock formations is no more than 20 milion years, when the greatest part of Greece (and the Mediterranean Sea) was in the bottom of a shallow sea, where the main materials were deposited , that later formed the current rock formations. Various geological events that followed caused the emergence of the whole region and the sea. 1.000.000 years ago glaciers covered Olympus and created its plateaus and depressions. With the temperature rise that followed the ice was melted and the streams that were created swept away large quantities of crushed rock in the lowest places, forming the alluvial fans, that spread out all over the region from the foothills of the mountain to the sea.
The complicated geological past of the region is obvious on the morphology of Olympus and its National Park. Its main features are deep gorges and dozens of smooth peaks, many of them in altitude of more than 2.000 meters, like Aghios Antonios (2.815 m), Kalogeros (2.700 m), Toumpa (2.801 m) and Profitis Ilias (2.803 m). However it is the central, almost vertical, rocky peaks, that impress the visitor, over Litochoro, where the relief of the mountain dislpays on the horizon an apparent V, between two peaks of almost equal height. In the left limb is Mytikas (or Pantheon - 2.918 m), Grrece's highest peak, and on the right one Stefani (or Thronos Dios (Throne of Zeus) - 2.902 m), that consists the most impressive and steep peak of Olympus, with its last 200 meters sharply rising, beeing the most challenging for climbing. Further south, Skolio (second highest peak - 2.912 m) completes an arc of about 200 degrees, with its steep slopes forming on the west side, like a wall, an impressive precipitous ampitheatrical cavity, 700 m in depth and 1.000 m in circumference, the 'Megala Kazania'. On the east side of the high peaks their steep slopes form zonelike parallel folds, the 'Zonaria'. That way, even narrower and steeper scorings, the 'Loukia', lead to the peak.
History and mythology
There are multiple theories for the origin of the name: "sky", "bright", "high", "rock". One theory holds that Olympus is a prehellenic toponym that simply means "mountain". In Turkish, the mountain is known as "Semavatevi", meaning "heavens' house".
In Greek mythology Olympus was the home of the Twelve Olympian gods of the ancient Greek world. In myth, Olympus formed after the gods defeated the Titans in the Titan War, and soon the place was inhabited by the gods. It is the setting of many Greek mythical stories.
Climbing Mount Olympus is a non-technical hike, except for the final section from Skala summit to Mytikas summit, which is YDS class 3 rock scramble. It is estimated that 10,000 people climb Mount Olympus each year, most of them reaching only the Skolio summit.
Most climbs to Mount Olympus start from the town of Litochoro, which took the name City of Gods because of its location on the roots of the mountain. A local from Litochoro, Christos Kakalos, became the first to reach the Mytikas summit on 2 August 1913. From there a road goes to Prionia, where the hike begins at the bottom of the mountain.
Mount Olympus and the national Park around it were selected as the main motif for the Greek National Park Olympus commemorative coin, minted in 2005. On the reverse, the War of the Titans on Mount Olympus is portrayed along with flowering branches on the lower part of the coin. Above the scene is written, in Greek, "National Park Olympus".
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