Not one and not two, but twelve gods are said to have once lived up here, on the peaks of Olympus, a huge stone that jagged into the sky. Anyone who makes it up to the top will notice that the gods and gentlemen have moved out - there is only heaven and emptiness here, a broad view over the country and a look back into mythology.
But until this moment it's exhausting to get that far - because this is the climbing the highest mountain in Greece. And after all, from the summit of Mytikas you can look down almost 3000 meters down to the sea.
After our hike through the Enipeas Gorge (read here) we're now climbing Greeks giant.
But one must be warned. Anyone who tries to complete the ascent as a day tour will likely fail. With a height of 2,917 meters, Mount Olympus is not a giant on a global scale, but those who come from below have quite a distance to walk. On a day tour from Prionia, more than 1.900 meters of altitude have to be mastered.
So you should be prepared accordingly. Starting point, the small Greek town of Litóchoro not far from the Olympic Riviera, and later the "Refuge A". The managed hut with restaurant and sleeping facilities can also be found under this name on some hiking maps. Caution is advised: The weather here changes faster than anywhere else in the Greek mountainous country - god's will, here named Ο Ζευς in greek νεφελιγερέτας (sevs nefelijeretas), Zeus the cloud collector, takes care of that.
There is hardly any other mountain that is so firmly anchored in European cultural history as Mount Olympus in Greece. In ancient Greek mythology, it was the seat of the gods and its summit was considered a place filled with light. But if you make your way upstairs, you will soon wonder why the gods chose such a remote and inhospitable place to stay.
Nevertheless, the highest mountain in Greece still has a very special attraction for locals and tourists. It is accessible with well-marked hiking trails and its ascent is made easier by several mountain huts that are open in summer. The number of visitors from June to September is correspondingly large.
However, if you choose a season for the ascent in which the refuges are closed, then you will still be all alone with the gods on Mount Olympus in the 21st century, so to speak. Because of that autumn and spring are particularly suitable for this, although a winter ascent (with skis) should also be possible if the weather is suitable. But the difference in height from the very bottom to the top is always considerable, you shouldn't hope of a better season.
The path to the summit, part of the European hiking trail E4, initially leads through high forest. Oak trees are at the beginning, then the black pine dominates, there are pleasant shadows on most of the route. A mountain hike without any major difficulties, they come a lot later.
But there is a flora that is worth seeing, which delights all flower lovers. The first specimens of the endemic cyclamen iankaea heldreichii, which was only found here on Mount Olympus and discovered by the botanist Theodor von Heldreich in the 19th century, soon appeared. At that time the gods were already gone, but they left behind blooming orchids, including dactylorhiza sambucina, wild roses and violets.
It takes more than nine hours to reach refuge Kakalos on over 2.600 meters, which emerges from the fog that suddenly blows in - the "cloud collector". A house on the bare mountain, like Modest Mussorgski played. The hut is surrounded by nothing and nobody, the hill is overgrown with lichen and at first glance as hospitable as the moon.
But anyone who has hiked to this place hardly has a look at it. Behind the summit opposite, the sun is slowly setting, the evening light colors the landscape on the rocks glowing red. Tomorrow the summit is waiting, the last but heaviest meters to the top of the roof of Greece.
A few more pictures for you: