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Holy Mountains in Greece
Posted In: Ancient Civilizations  10/29/11
By: Yona Williams

zeussculpture.jpg
If you are a fan of ancient Greek mythology, then you are already familiar with the mountain believed to be the home of the ancient gods and goddesses, such as Zeus, Apollo and Hera. In this article, you will not only learn more about Mount Olympus, but also another holy mountain in Greece.

Mount Olympus, Greece

It is no wonder that the mountain meant to accommodate the ancient deities is the highest in the country. Olympus is found on the border between Thessaly and Macedonia. There are 52 peaks associated with Mount Olympus with the highest one being Mytikas (which translates into 'nose'). It measures 2,917 meters in height, which also makes it one of the highest peaks in Europe.

The mountain of the gods is known for a rich range of flora that includes several different species. The Greeks have made Olympus its National Park and a biosphere reserve.

In Greek mythology, Olympus was the 'home' of the 12 Olympian gods of the ancient world. The formation of the mountain was said to have been created on its own after the gods fought and defeated the titan during the Titan War. The palace became the home of Zeus and his relations, including his daughter Athena and wife Hera. The mountain was described as being widespread, clear and without any clouds, and plays an important role in many Greek myths.

Mount Athos, Greece

Many monasteries have been established at the holy mountain at Athos, Greece, which is connected to the Greek Orthodox Church. This World Heritage Site is not only a mountain but also a peninsula that supports 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries that have joined together to for a monastic state within the sovereignty of the Hellenic Republic that is self-governed. Greeks will refer to Mount Athos as the 'Holy Mountain.' The mountain is steep with slopes covered in forest. The waters that surround the land should be approached with caution – they can be a dangerous place to be.

There are also historical accounts attached to the mountain that include two disasters that took down fleets during ancient Greek days. In 492 BC, the king of Persia at the time, Darius, lost 300 ships under general Mardonius. The Spartans lost a fleet of 50 ships in 411 BC while in the charge of admiral Epicleas.

Mount Athos is only accessible by boat with two large ferries transporting people between Ouranoupolis and Dafni when the weather allows it. The two ferries, Agios Panteleimon and Axion Estin, also make stops at some of the monasteries located on the western coast.

The number of visitors that are allowed to enter Mount Athos are restricted. You must get a special entrance permit and it is only valid for a limited time. An interesting fact about this holy place is that women are not allowed to go on to the mountain. Only males can enter, which the monks call the "Garden of the Virgin." When getting the special permit, Orthodox Christians are given precedence. As for living on the mountain, only men over the age of 18 are allowed to call it home – and they must be a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church. They are required to live as a monk or a worker of the church.


 

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