To the Ancient Greeks, no place was nearly as sacred as Mount Olympus. Believed to be the home of the Gods, there are few other mountains that had quite the same impact on western belief systems, and the Greeks viewed the mountains as an exceptionally vital part of their own religion.
Today, Mount Olympus is part of a UNESCO biosphere, and sits within the oldest national park in Greece. Along with this, the mount is actually just one of a large range known as the Olympus massif.
What It Meant To The Greeks
In Ancient Greek mythology, Mount Olympus was the abode of the Gods of their religion. It has been described numerous times by ancient scribes, historians, and philosophers, but perhaps it’s Homer’s Iliad that provided the most detail of the important mountain. It was believed to be a fortified complex that sat just below the main peak of the mountain, and served as the throne of Zeus, the king of the gods. A number of other palaces were a part of this complex, with each one belonging to a different god. The main gates of the complex were guarded by the goddesses of the seasons, known as the Horae.
It was not only a place where the gods lived and rested, but also where they planned their wars, and held major feasts. During these feasts, the gods would consume nectar and ambrosia, which was an important part of their immortality. The Ancient Greeks believed that the gods ruled not just the earth, but the entire universe from Mount Olympus, with Zeus’ palace being the epicentre of their power and wealth.
The History of Mount Olympus
Humans have lived in Mount Olympus from around 40,000 years ago, and many archaeologists believe that our history with this mountain range is a part of the reason that the ancients placed such high value on it. By 8000 BC, humans had already begun to build settlements around the base of the mountain, and it’s these early peoples that would eventually split into some of the more well-known cultures that once inhabited the region, including the Macedonians and the Mycenaeans.
Historians have not been able to pinpoint a time period when the ancient peoples of the area began to tell stories of Mount Olympus, but it’s believed that many of the stories were actually inspired by real events that took place. One such example is the impact site of a comet that may have been the genesis of the battles of the gods on the mountain peak.
Today, the area is a biodiversity hotspot, with a huge range of fauna and flora that attracts thousands of visitors every year, and makes for a great vacation spot with the money you win from getting the best Breeders Cup betting odds. Mount Olympus Park is among the oldest and largest national parks in the world, and very much worth a visit for those with a passion for both nature and history.