Olympus – Dion
Excursion back in history, the culture and the traditional heritage looking upon the Mythical Mountain of the 12 Gods of Olympus!
PLACES WE VISIT
- Museum and archaeological site of Dion
- The Enipeas gorge of Mount Olympus
THE EXCURSION TAKES PLACE
- Every Monday
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
- 8 hours (2 hours on the road)
DESCRIPTION OF THE EXCURSION
We depart to Dion with the bus of Ammon Express
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 about 90 km and lasts about 1 hour.
We reach Dion where we take a walk back in history admiring the ancient city and later on we visit the Museum of Dion with the findings and statues of the ancient city as well as the unique mosaic located at the gallery.
Afterwards, we leave for Olympus, the mountain of gods. We start trekking for 20’ the path to the Enipeas gorge.
We depart to Thessaloniki at about 15:30 where we return after approximately one hour (16:30) making the same stops from where we started.
THE PRICE OF THE EXCURSION INCLUDES
- Transportation to and from the Museum, the Archaeological site of Dion and the Mt. Olympus.
- English-speaking trip attendant
- Basic travel insurance (during transportation)
- Assistance with the ticket issuance process for anyone who wishes to avoid the queue in the ticket office.
- The entrance fee to the Archaeological site of Dion (General entrance fee: 8€)
The ticket included the entrance to the Museum and the gallery of Dion
- The cost of the lunch at the restaurant
- The guided tour at the archaeological site and the Museum of Dion
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 shall wear an Ammon Express t-shirt so that he will be recognisable easily
- You should be at the departure points 5’ earlier from the time indicated in the schedule. The bus cannot remain at designated stops, except for boarding.
- Free entry to the Museum of Dion is available to all Greek citizens who have an active unemployment card, the students of Universities, Technological Educational Institutes or equivalent institutes of EU countries by showing their student ID, young people up to the age of 19 by showing their ID card, as well as the Solidarity Card holders and the members of Societies and Associations of Friends of Museums and Archaeological Sites.
- Reduced entry to the Museum of Dion (€ 6) is available to all citizens of EU Member States aged over 65, by showing their ID card or passport, as well as students from countries outside the EU.
- The hiking that leads to the cave of Saint Dionysius takes about 20 minutes and requires sports shoes and a relatively good condition.
- Do not forget the sun cream, sunglasses and a hat.
- Please be punctual in the given meeting times specified by the tour guide of Ammon Express so that the excursion is unforgettable to all participants.
- We wish you a pleasant excursion and have fun!
- Share pictures and comments from your experiences in the excursion.