Olympus – Dion

Excursion to the mythical mountain of the 12 Gods of Olympus, the history and the culture!

The cultural heritage of the ancient city of Dion is combined with the incomparable beauty of the foothills of the mythical Mount Olympus. The residence of the 12 Gods couldn’t be something less than majestic, with the charming nature and its unique biodiversity, forms the first national park in Greece. Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece, interwoven with the greek mythology, is a challenging invitation to discover its greatness and capture amazing photos! Feel the enchanting aura walking through Enipeas Gorge!

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Museum and archaeological site of Dion
  • Enipeas Gorge of mount Olympus – short trekking
  • Litochoro village

STARTING POINTS AND DEPARTURE

  • Starting point: White Tower (Entrance) 08:00
  • Stop 1: Makedonia Palace Hotel 08:05
  • Stop 2: Aristotle’s Square & Egnatia Street (Venizelos Statue) 08:15
  • Stop 3: Capsis Hotel 08:20
  • Stop 4: The Met Hotel 08:25

EXCURSION DURATION

  • 8 hours (2 hours on the road)

DESCRIPTION OF THE EXCURSION

We depart to Dion with the bus of Ammon Express along with our friendly trip attendant-archaeologist,

at 08:00 from the White Tower,

at 08:05 from the hotel Makedonia Palace,

at 08:15 from Aristotle’s Square & Egnatia Street (at the statue of Venizelos),

at 08:20 from Capsis Hotel and

at 08:25 from The Met Hotel

The distance is 90km and lasts approximately 1 hour.

We reach Dion and we visit the archaeological site, walking back in history and admiring the various findings around the ancient park. The unique statues, the mosaics and the various artifacts that were brought to light are left in their original place and that so, we pass through the same paths as the ancient Greeks used to do. Don’t miss the chance to visit the ancient theater with the perfect acoustic balance since antiquity. Until nowadays many ancient tragedies are revitalized by modern actors and various festivals every year. Next we visit the modern museum with many statues and findings of the ancient city with more characteristic the Hydravlis (an ancient wind instrument) and the unique mosaic that represents the “Villa of Dionysos” lying in the building next to it.

Later on we head to Olympus, the mountain of the 12 Gods and we enjoy a 20΄ trekking through the Gorge of river Enipeas, above the village of Litochoro. According to the mythology, Enipeas was the most beautiful among the river gods. The path is magical; let the glory of nature, the running waters, the picturesque wooden bridges, the green banks and the small canyons charm you. We have the chance to admire the view of this “divine area” which was chosen carefully by the 12 Olympian Gods as their residence. More specifically, it is said that the residence of the Olympian Gods were the canyons of the mountain, the “mount folds” as they are described by Homer, where their glorious palaces were also located.

Our day trip ends in the picturesque village of Litochoto where we enjoy our lunch in a beautiful traditional restaurant. Litochoro is located right on the foothills of Olympus and forms the main starting point for the various trekking paths of the mountain that reach until Mytikas, the highest top of Olympus.

Don’t miss the chance to visit the second highest mountain in Balkans and the most mythical of all times!

We depart to Thessaloniki at around 15:30p.m and we are back after an hour (around 16:30p.m), making the same stops where we started from.

THE PRICE OF THE EXCURSION INCLUDES

  • Round-trip transportation to the archaeological site-museum of Dion, Mt. Olympus and Litochoro
  • English speaking trip attendant-archaeologist
  • Basic travel insurance (during transport)
  • Assistance with the ticket issuance process for anyone who wishes to avoid the queue in the ticket office

NOT INCLUDED

  • The entrance fee to the archaeological site and museum of Dion, 8€ in total
  • Cost of lunch at the restaurant
  • Tour-guide to the museum and the archaeological site of Dion

ΑNCIENT DΙΟΝ

The most sacred city of the Macedonians, Dion, was at that time only 1.5 kilometers from the sea and the so called Vafyras river was flowing through it. We have the first written reports mentioning Dion in the 5th century BC, but it was King Archelaos I who upgraded the city of Dion to a cultural and religious center of the region. The Macedonian King chose the city because of its connection with the worship of the Muses and Zeus, and thus Dion had in ancient Greece a prestige like this of Delphi in Sterea Hellas and Olympia in the Peloponnese. Temples, stadiums, walls were built and sculptures and statues were placed, while in the ancient Greek theater of Dion the tragedian Euripides staged his plays, “Bacchae” and “Archelaos”.

During the Hellenistic period, Dion reached great prosperity, while at the same time the greatest Macedonian kings held in the city important victory celebrations. Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, organized in the city fights to thank the gods after the victory of his army in Olynthos, Chalkidiki, in 348 BC. Together with his son Alexander they made sacrifice in Dion to celebrate their great victory over the united Greek cities-states in the battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC. Alexander also celebrated in Dion the subjugation and destruction of the city of Thebes in 335 BC, offering sacrifice to the gods before beginning his long expedition in the depths of Asia. One year later, in Dion, the Greek army commander sent twenty-five bronze statues, one for each dead soldier of the battle, to honor them after his first major victory against the Persians in the Granikos River of Asia Minor.

A century later, in 220 BC, Dion fell victim to the army of the Aetolians who ravaged the city and burned the Temple of Olympian Zeus, while a few years later the city was finally subjugated to the Romans. During this period, Dion flourished as one of the earliest colonies of the new conquerors in the Macedonian area. Roman citizens were relocated as emigrants from Italy, the city was developed commercially and its monuments and statues were transferred to Rome.

During the Early Christian years, the powerful Roman colony was shrunk and in its central area a basilica church was built at the end of the 4th century AD. The transition to the new religion is testified by a second basilica built on the ruins of the ancient city and a third one outside its walls.

Dion fell victim to the invasion of the Ostrogoths in the 5th century AD, which, in combination with the floods of the Vafyras River and earthquakes, contributed to the gradual abandonment of the city and the transfer of its inhabitants to safer areas at the foot of Mount Olympus. In the 14th century AD Dion followed the fate of the rest of Macedonia and was captured by the Turks, who destroyed it from its foundations. For the first time in the early 19th century AD the ruins of Dion, which were lost in the dense vegetation and the waters, were again identified with the ancient glorious city.

Archaeological research in the area began in the early 1900s and to this day they have brought to light the sanctuary of Isis and other gods of Egypt, the small temple of the Ypolympidia Aphrodite (named like that because she was honored under the Mount Olympus), the ancient sanctuary of Demeter, a Hellenistic theater of the Philip II era and a Roman Theater of the 2nd century AD, a stadium, the villa of the god Dionysus with the magnificent mosaics, a cemetery, shops, stone columns (in the temple of Zeus), a conservatory, walls, musical instruments (such as hydraulis, an ancient wind musical instrument) and baths.

The present image of the archaeological site responds mainly to the Roman period of the city. The archaeological finds of the excavations are exhibited at the adjacent museum of Dion. Today, the ruins of the city are at a distance of about 4 kilometers from the sea.

In Dion, every year it is held a mosaic exhibition at the Center of Mediterranean Mosaic in the context of the Olympus Festival.

ΟLYMPUS AND LITOHORO

At the foot of Mount Olympus, it is built, apart from the ancient settlement of Dion, the beautiful Litohoro, a starting point of the ascent to the mountain of the gods. From Litohoro it begins the path that crosses the Enipeas gorge with its unique beauty and its crystal-clear waters – so clean that fish cannot survive due to the lack of nutrients and seaweed, it passes from Prionia position, the last point of access by car, and it ends in the central refuge of Olympus, the Zolotas refuge. Litohoro grew around the monastery founded by Saint Dionysius in the 16th century AD. and since then it has evolved into a homeland of sailors and ship owners, taking advantage of the odd freedom that the village enjoyed by the Ottoman authorities as a mountainous place.

The historic old Monastery of Saint Dionysius is 18 km away from Litohoro and within walking distance of it and deep inside the forest is the cave where the Saint lived.

  • Our trip attendant-archaeologist shall wear clothing with the Ammon Express marking so that he/she will be recognisable easily
  • You should be at the departure point 10΄ before the time indicated in the schedule. The bus cannot remain at designated stops, except for boarding
  • Free of charge entrance to the archaeological site and the museums is valid for youths up to 18 years old and University and Technological Educational Institutes students or students of equivalent schools of EU Members
  • Reduced entrance fee (-50%) is valid for European Union citizens aged over 65 and for students of Higher Education Institutes outside the European Union
  • In winter season, 01/11 – 31/03, the general entrance fee to the sites is 4€
  • Wear comfortable shoes to walk around the archaeological sights and the short trekking
  • In summer season bear in mind to have sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat
  • Please be consistent with the exact appointment times specified by the Ammon Express escort, so that the excursion will remain unforgettable to all participants
  • Have a nice trip and an unforgettable experience!
  • Don’t forget to share pictures and comments from your experience!