Central Macedonia - Olympus the Mountain of the Gods
Litochoro is a town and a former municipality in the southern part of the Pieria regional unit, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Dio-Olympos, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit. It is located at the base of Mount Olympus, on the western shore of the Thermaic Gulf. The first recorded mention of Litochoro is in an account of a visit by Saint Dionysius to Mount Olympus. The town is a popular destination for those wishing to climb Mount Olympus as almost all climbing routes begin to the southwest of the town.
Mount Olympus/Olympos, is the highest mountain in Greece It is located in the Olympus Range on the border between Thessaly and Macedonia, 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 up to 2,918 meters (9,573 ft). It is one of the highest peaks in Europe. Olympus was known in Greek mythology as the home of the Greek gods, on the Mytikas peak. It has been a National Park, the first in Greece, since 1938. It is also a World's Biosphere Reserve.
Every year thousands of people visit Olympus to admire its fauna and flora, 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 it. The usual starting point is the town of Litochoro, on the eastern foothills of the mountain, 100 km from Thessaloniki, where, in the beginning of every summer, the Olympus Marathon terminates.
Olympus, a name, a thousand pictures, a thousand emotions, the history of a whole nation, of an ancient civilization. Until 1913, it was a legendary mountain that no one ever thought of conquering it, except a few brave ones and those who lived there and by it and gave their lives for it. Since 1913, after the first conquest, the road was clear for it to become a beautiful destination inside the borders of our country, but still inspiring awe. Those of us who were lucky to visit it even once, it won our hearts. Even if the mountain had been demystified after its first conquest, it still has the power and mystery and attracts everyone to visit it again. It arouses emotions which can’t be described. To feel them you must visit it yourselves. As Greeks, we all think that at least once we must visit this godly mountain, wander through its paths, smell the scent of the forests, become one with Nature, as the Gods of Olympus in ancient times. It’s our duty to visit the mountain of Gods, the only place which combines History, Geography and Mountaineering so vividly.
The ancient city owes its name to the most important Macedonian sanctuary dedicated to Zeus (Dias), father of the gods who dwelt on Mount Olympus. Thyia, daughter of Deucalion, bore Zeus two sons, Magnes and Makednos, eponym of Macedonians, who dwelt in Pieria at the foot of Mount Olympus. Here from very ancient times, a large altar had been set up for the worship Olympian Zeus and his daughters, the Muses, in a unique environment characterized by rich vegetation, towering trees, countless springs and a navigable river. For this reason Dion was the "sacred place" of the Ancient Macedonians. It was the place where the kings made splendid sacrifices to celebrate the new year of the Macedonian calendar at the end of September. In the Spring, purification rites of the army and victory feasts were held.
The first mention of Dion in history comes from Thucydides, who reports that it was the first city reached by the Spartan general Brasidas after crossing from Thessaly into Macedon on his way through the realm of his ally Perdiccas II during his expedition against the Athenian colonies of Thrace in 424 BC. According to Diodorus Siculus, it was Archelaus I who, at the end of the 5th century BC when the Macedonian state acquired great power and emerged onto the stage of history, gave the city and its sanctuary their subsequent importance by instituting a nine-day festival of games that included athletic and dramatic competitions in honor of Zeus and the Muses, whose organization was overseen by the Macedonian kings themselves.
The museum was established in 1983 to display excavations unearthed in the area from a fortified city that once stood in its place from the 6th century BC to the 5th century AD. The artifacts of the museum were also discovered in Olympus and the wider Pieria regional unit.
Excavation of the archaeological site began in 1973 and is still far from complete. The museum contains many items from when the Romans lived in the area, including statues, architectural members, votive and grave monuments, coins, and many other objects found in the necropolis and the sanctuaries and baths of the ancient city on site. The water organ, the Statue of Dionysos, Isis and Aphrodite Hypolympia and the Asklepios Daughters are displays of particular note.