Mythological Thessaloniki

by Wilma Leskinen, from Finland.

  Let us start with the most-known mythical mountain in the world, Mount Olympus. The 2,918 meter high mountain is located on about 80 kilometres southwest from Thessaloniki. The mountain’s rich flora, deep gorges and 52 diverse peaks, made it the first National Park in Greece since 1938. Olympos has an almost circular shape and was formed of an 200 million year-old sedimentary rock. by rain and wind. Theories of the names origin include ’sky’, ’bright’, ’high’ and ’rock’. With a clear sky you can see the mountain from Thessaloniki’s seafront or from the castles.


  The mountains highest peak, Mytikas is believed to have been the main stage for discussion of the Twelve Olympian gods. They lived in the gorges, where also their palaces were located. Pantheon (today Mytikas) was their meeting point. Since Zeus was the leader of the gods, he had his own peak, Throne of Zeus (today Stefani). From there he threw his thunderbolts, expressing his displeasure and rage.

In the ancient Greek religion and mythology, the Twelve Olympians were:


  • Zeus: main God, also god of the sky, lightning, law, order, justice.

  • Poseidon: God of the sea, earthquakes, storms, horses.

  • Apollo: God of music, poetry, art, oracles, archery, plague, medicine, sun, light and knowledge.

  • Ares: God of War.

  • Hephaestus: God of fire, metalworking, stone masonry, forges, the art of sculpture, and blacksmiths.

  • Hermes: Messenger of the gods, god of trade, thieves, travelers, sports, athletes, border crossings, guide to the Underworld.

  • Hera: Queen of the gods, goddess of marriage, women, childbirth, family.

  • Demeter: Goddess of agriculture, fertility, harvest.

  • Athena: Goddess of wisdom, war.

  • Artemis: Goddess of hunt, forests and hills, the Moon, archery.

  • Aphrodite: Goddess of love, beauty and sexuality.


  • Hestia: Goddess of the hearth, home, domesticity, family, and the state.

  • Dionysus: God of the vine, grape harvest, wine-making, wine, religious ecstasy, and theater.

  • Persephone: Goddess of the Underworld, springtime, flowers, vegetation (were sometimes included as part of the twelve Olympians)

  • Hades: King of the underworld and god of the Dead and Riches (was excluded, because he resided permanently in the underworld and is believed to never have visited Olympus)