Mount Olympus 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 regional units 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 2,919 metres (9,570 ft). It is one of the highest peaks in Europe in terms of topographic prominence.
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.
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.
Climbing Mount Olympus is a non-technical hike, except for the final section from the Skala summit to the Mytikas peak, which is a 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 of Mount Olympus start from the town of Litochoro, which took the name City of Gods because of its location at the foot of the mountain. From there a road goes to Prionia, where the hike begins at the bottom of the mountain.
Olympus was notable in 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.
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. The Twelve Olympian gods lived in the gorges, where there were also their palaces. Pantheon (today Mytikas) was their meeting place and theater of their stormy discussions. The Throne of Zeus (today Stefani) hosted solely him, the leader of the gods. From there he unleashed his thunderbolts, expressing his godly wrath. The Twelve Olympians included also Hera, Hestia, Demeter, Poseidon, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Hermes, Aphrodite, Ares and Hephaestus. Ιn Iliad Olympus is referred as great, long, brilliant and full of trees.
In Pieria, on Olympus’ northern foot, the mythological tradition had placed the nine Muses, patrons of the Fine Arts, daughters of Zeus and the Titanide Mnemosyne : Calliope (Epic Poetry), Clio (History), Erato (Love Poetry), Euterpe (Music), Melpomene, (Tragedy), Polyhymnia (Hymns), Terpsichore (Dance), Thalia (Comedy) and Urania (Astronomy).