Do you want to experience a trip to ancient Macedonia? Do you want to walk where Zeus and the other gods of Mythology lived? Then you should visit Dion and the highest mountain in Greece, Olympus.
Dion seems to have been founded by the Perravians of Thessaly in honor of Zeus (Dias), from whom it took its name. The first written reference to the city is made by Thucydides, who mentions it as the first city through which the general of Sparta Brasidas passed in 424 BC. Then it becomes part of the Macedonian kingdom and meets a huge prosperity. After the subjugation of Macedonia and Greece in general to the Romans, the city was a semi-independent colony of Rome, with its own currency and self-government. During this period, Dion showed remarkable commercial growth but the monuments and statues were transported to Rome. During the 4th century AD, the Pierians embraced Christianity, as evidenced by the two basilicas built on the ruins of the ancient city and a third outside its walls. The floods of the river Vafyras, the earthquakes and the time will cover with oblivion the city that was abandoned during the 5th c. A.D. In the 14th century it was completely destroyed by the Turks and gradually disappeared under the dense forest and vegetation.
The holy city of Macedonia
At the end of the 5th century BC, when Archelaus took power in Macedonia, Dion was transformed into a spiritual and cultural center. Temples, theater, stadium, walls were built and sculptures and statues were placed. Archelaus highlighted Dion as the main sanctuary of Macedonia with the great sacrifices in the sanctuary of Olympian Zeus and the Muses, while he established the organization of sports and theatrical games lasting 9 days in their honor. The theatrical performances that were uploaded include the dramas "Vakhes" and "Archelaos" of the great tragedian of antiquity Euripides.
Philip II and Alexander the Great celebrated their victories at Dion with majestic sacrifices to Zeus and the Muses. There Philip II celebrated the fall of Olynthos, the capital of the Halkidiki Alliance, while in the same place Alexander the Great invoked the help of Zeus, carrying out the preparation of his campaign in Asia. The famous complex of Lysippos was placed in Dion, which was made by order of Alexander the Great. This is a sculptural composition of 25 men on horses in life size, which depicts his comrades who fell in the battle of Granikos.
Archaeological Site of Dion
The first official excavations began right after the liberation of Macedonia from the Turks in 1928, but in fact in 1973 Professor Dimitris Pantermalis – with the University of Thessaloniki – was the one who pulled from the mud and oblivion the greatness of the ancient city. Today, a unique 2,000-acre archeological park awaits the visitor in Dion, with the ancient city and places of worship located outside its walls. Many statues and other invaluable objects are kept in the museum of Dion. Some of the findings of the excavations that you can see in the archeological site are:
- Sanctuary of Isis and other gods of Egypt
- Sanctuary of Demeter
- Hellenistic theater of the time of Philip
- Roman theater of the 2nd century
- Villa of the god Dionysus with the wonderful mosaics
- Musical instruments
- Roman Baths
Most important Sights
Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece, as it reaches its peak (Mytikas) at 2918 meters. It is the first area in Greece that was declared a National Park in 1938 and in 1981 was designated by UNESCO as a "protected monument of the world biosphere". It is located on the borders of Macedonia - Thessaly and is especially popular because of ancient Greek mythology, during which it was the residence of the twelve gods. At the top of the mountain was the meeting point of the gods, while in the current location Stefani, was the throne of Zeus, from where he threw his lightning.
Most of the routes of Olympus are mountaineering paths that lead to shelters to the peaks and require special equipment. The most popular pure hiking route of Olympus is the descent of the Enipeas Gorge. It starts from Prionia and ends in Litochoro. The journey is about 11 km and takes about 5 hours. Of course you can walk a small part, if you are tired from your tour of the Archaeological Site of Dion. The wild natural landscape, the waters, the wooden bridges, the birds and the rare flowers will offer you an unforgettable experience.
In eastern Olympus there is a paradise unknown to many, the Orlia Stream. According to the legend, Orlias, the ancient river of Pieria, "disappeared" from his shame, when he refused to purify the Mainades, who wanted to wash their hands there from the blood of Orpheus, whom they killed in Dion. The river then entered the ground and came to the surface again just outside Dion, where it forms its waterfalls. Rema Orlia is one of the main streams of Olympus and has water all year.
Ten minutes away from Dion is the chapel of Agios Konstantinos from which Orlias stream starts. Just fifty meters after the chapel, you will meet the first waterfall with the small lake created by its waters. Very close are the second waterfall that creates a slightly larger and deeper lake and a third lake. You can swim in the lakes if you can stand the cold water. Otherwise you can enjoy and photograph the magical landscape.
Those who wish can start a hike on the path that starts at the chapel of Agios Konstantinos and runs parallel to the Orlias stream. All along the way there is rich vegetation and running water. In about 50 minutes you will reach the imposing waterfall of Kokkinos Vrachos, one of the most beautiful waterfalls of Olympus. The waterfall has a height of 18 meters. The adventurous can swim in its icy waters and then return from the same route.
Elite Transfer Services
Elite Transfer provides you with your transfer to Dion, Olympus and your return to Thessaloniki. Our spacious, air-conditioned and state-of-the-art vehicles offer you a comfortable and relaxing transfer. Our carefully selected staff is always ready to serve you and provide you with a pleasant and safe trip. All you have to do is relax in the comfortable seats of our vehicles!
- The Archaeological Site of Dion is about 1 hour from Thessaloniki
- Prionia is about 40 minutes away from Dion
- The traditional village of Litochoro is just 15 minutes from Dion
- If you wish you can have a coffee or have lunch in Litochoro
- The traditional and picturesque village of Paleos Panteleimon is about 30 minutes from Dion and is ideal for dining
- A tour guide would help you to understand better the archaeological site
- It is not necessary to visit all the attractions we suggest. The important thing is to have a good time without getting tired