Mountain of the Gods

ROUTE INFORMATION – T.B.D. : Spring 2019

Central Greece

Historic Landmarks

  • Necromanteion
  • Dodoni
  • Dion

4/5 Culture Shock

Total Length 1050 km

7 Riding Days

Intermediate Skills Level

45% Offroad

Hotels and (1) Camping

National Forest of TBD

Middle May – Middle October


Packing List


Rent A Ride


Brochure (coming soon)


West Gate of the Mortal

West Gate of the Mortal

On the way to mount Olympus, we learned many different things. For starters, Alcibiades, was murdered in 404 B.C. and our opinion of him changed when we found out how much he had harmed his homeland, Athens. We found out about the destruction of the campaign in Sicily in 413 B.C., the death of Nicias and the annihilation of the 50.000 men, many of whom lived as prisoners in the quarries in Syracuse; about the surrender of the Athenians and the Thirty Tyrants imposed by the Spartans; about the march of the Ten Thousand in 401 B.C. and the death of Socrates, in 399 B.C.; about the hegemony of Thebes and the battles in Leuctra in 371 B.C. as well as Mantineia in 362 B.C., where Epaminondas was killed. Namely the whole collapse of the city-states, which was leading the country to a financial and sociopolitical crisis.
And yet, as things seemed dark in the Greek region, Philip II, the king of Macedonia appears since 356 B.C., defeating in Chaeronea in 338 B.C. the coalition of the Athenians and Thebians and thus putting things in order.
We were over the Athamanika (Tzoumerka) when Hermes reminded us about the murder of Philip II in 336 B.C. He then reassured us that everything will be fine, since – in his words – “Father Zeus has provided for the future of Greece. Alexander, the son of Philip II, will follow the advise of Isocrates, even though he died two years after that, in 338 B.C. The Greeks will unite under his scepter.” How strange a race are these Greeks, we thought, one moment they kill one another and the next they become brothers.

But there it is, the spot where the ArK of Deucalion landed (Ancient Greek flood myths), which I could see on my way to the Necromanteion, on top of the Athamanika.
Athamas was a son of Aeolus and grandson of Hellen, who was a son of Deucalion who was a son of Prometheus, namely of the cousin of Zeus. Athamas was the king of Boeotia and agreed to raise the young Dionysus, but Hera in her anger drove him mad and he killed his son Learchus, from his second marriage. It was he who in his first marriage with Nephele, fathered Phrixus and Helle. Helle drowned in Hellespont and Phrixus reached Colchis, creating the myth of the golden fleece.

After the murder of his son, Athamas was driven out of Boeotia and, following the oracle given to him in Delphi, he settled on this mountain giving it his name. It is the second most important mountain after Olympus. Euripides and Sophocles wrote their tragedies based on his myth.
The spot where the Ark of Deucalion landed, lies on the course from the Necromanteion to Olympus (point Δ); Jason, the relative of Phrixus passed from that exact spot, coming from Iolcos, to reach the Oracle of Dodoni. From Iolcos he embarked on the Argonautic Campaign, having first built the prow of Argo from oak wood he took from the Oracle of Dodona.
It is the next tallest mountain of Thessaly, after Olympus, and, as it seems, the waters of the deluge receded through the Necromanteion to Hades and from then to the Ocean of the Ancients which surrounds the Earth.

There, the ancient Metropolis (“Μήτρα” is Greek for Womb + “Πόλη” is Greek for City) which along with Trikke, Pelinnaioi, Gomfoi and Ithome, constituted the fortified square of the Thessalians. Metropolis was the center of the Thessalian Leauge with a powerful acropolis. This city took its name from Thessalus, who was a son of Haemon, who was the hero of the region which was initially called Haemonia. Haemon arrived here from Thesprotia.
At a distance of 116 kilometers from the spot where the Ark of Deucalion landed, to the right of my route, lies Iolcos, the inhabitants of which were Pelasgians just like the first inhabitants of Epirus, which was called Pelasgia, that is why Homer names the Dodonian Zeus Pelasgic. His sanctuary is located on the left of our route, at a distance of 20 kilometers.


Religious Center of Epirus

Religious Center of Epirus

We had traveled a fair distance from the spot of the Ark and we were still thinking about the creation of the human race by Deucalion and Pyrrha, who threw stones over their shoulders to create the humans. We were passing over the river Lethaeus and Lethaea came to my mind, the wife of Olenus, who were turned to stone because Lethaea was bragging that she was fairer than the goddesses. However I felt that this must have been the spot where Deucalion and Pyrrha were throwing the stones, because it is strange for the river to be called that, just a few kilometers from the spot where the Ark landed. Moreover just next to us is the location of the Meteora, the standing rocks up to 400 meters in height, that span in an area with a surface of 30 square kilometers.
This was the land of the Perrhaebians, a prehistoric people of Thessaly, which took part in the Trojan War. One of them Guneus, the son of Ocytus, was the leader of the Aenianes and the Rerrhaebians army, but also a suitor of Helen of Troy, that is the reason he joined the campaign. The Aenianes were also a prehistoric people residing in Dodona. They were part of the conference of the Greeks, namely the Delphic Amphictyony, founded by Amphictyon, the son of Pyrrha and deucalion, who lived in Phtiotis.

We were thinking about all of this while getting very close to Mount Olympus and suddenly we saw before us a huge mountain over the clouds covered in snow. It was the residence of Zeus and from there the god decided for the fate of Gods and men. We had already passed from the river Titaresius, where the Lapith Mopsus was born.
Mopsus was the son of Ampyx and Chloris, and joined the Argonautic campaign as a seer alongside Idmon, where they both died. Idmon was killed in Mariandyni, on the way to Colchis, by a boar and Mopsus died in Libya bitten by a venomous snake. The Lapiths were a prehistoric people of Thessaly and were related to the Centaurs, who initially lived in Perrhaebia. The Centaurs were monstrous hybrids, human from the waist up with the lower half of a horse, most of whom were driven away by the Lapiths, that is why we did not meet any Centaurs.
The further we distanced ourselves from the son of Macedon, Pindus, after whom the whole mountain range from Grammos to the Corinthian gulf was named; maybe it was the death of that lad which darkened this side of our homeland. Because to the west is where the wild and mysterious side of Greece could be found.

Olympus is the most beautiful mountain and we love exploring it. It is a volume rising steeply from the surrounding areas, with 1.600 species of plants many trees, but also animals and birds, that is why the Muses, born from Zeus, gather here. It has plenty of waters, from the snow on its peaks, which when the sunlight falls make the area shine. That is why it was called Olympus which means “Full of Light” (Ολόφωτος). Down bellow on its base, in the area of Pieria, there is the Sanctuary of Zeus, founded by the first king of Thessaly, after he was saved from the deluge. Up there, on the altar of Zeus, every new year the kings of Macedonia offered sacrifices, in their month of Hyperberetaiaos (September-October) according to their own customs; when the sign of Libra appeared in the sky, which symbolized the justice of Zeus towards gods and men.


Religious Center of Macedonia

Religious Center of Macedonia

Roaming Olympus through the mountains and plains, we understood that the “present” was every moment we could feel the beats of our heart, because there the gods are eternal and time loses its meaning. Only down bellow did Alexander struggled with it, advancing rapidly to Asia Minor of the state of Darius. His victory in Issus in 333 B.C. made the Olympian Zeus very happy for his son, because Alexander won without his help. On the other hand the merciful god was very sad about the degradation of Darius. Fate played an ugly game with him.
We was ordered to secretly leave for Delos, because the celebration of Apollo was to be held there and the jealous Hera would not let Zeus go. Leto, the darling of Zeus, found sanctuary on the barren island of Delos, which flowed endlessly on the sea. As a reward, the god stabilized it on four pillars forever and changed its name to Delos (bright, overt) from Ortygia, because it was the place that the god of light Apollo (Sun) was to be born.
We started traveling again in the company of Hermes who had to transport other souls to Hades, that is why he would pass again from Delphi, to ask Dionysus, who was replacing Apollo, if he had any orders from the god of light, before he would depart again for the hyperborean people.
Dionysus was a very peculiar god, because he had a difficult childhood, having Zeus for a father. The jealous Hera was trying to kill him. His mother was Semele, the daughter of Cadmus and Harmony, who was thundered by Zeus when she asked him to show himself to her with all of his might.
He was the god who discovered the vine, but Hera drove him mad and he roamed in many places in this state, like Egypt, Syria and Thrace. From there he left and reached as far as India, conquering many peoples. I did not forget that the god and my traveling companion had received soothsaying lessons from Apollo, that is why I believed him.
Through these and other hardships Dionysus decided to remain close to the humans, that is why he was a beloved god and was celebrated everywhere. So the god created the theater and, where comedies, tragedies but also the satyrical drama were performed.


West Gate of the Mortal

The Necromateion (or Nekromateion) of Ephyra is as important as Delphi and Delos, because it is one of the basic elements of the religion of the Greeks. Namely it is a part of a complete logic. If Delos symbolizes the beginning of a new life, the Necromanteion is both the end and the beginning of a new life, according to the movement of Apollo (Sun).

The Celestial Sphere

We observe then in the above image, that the Sun on 22/12 stops its downward course to the South, the moment it is found in the sign of Capricorn, in the month of Poseidon (December-January) which is visible from Greece, and starts its upward course to the North. It is when the winter begins and the human souls passed after death through that zodiac to reach the Heavens (“Gate of the Gods” – Winter Solstice). In reverse on 21/6 the Sun stops its upwards course to the North, the moment it is found in the Sign of Cancer in the month of Skirophorion (June-July) and starts descending to the South. It is the beginning of the Summer and the souls descended through this zodiac to enter new bodies (“Gate of Mortals” – Summer Solstice).

To see the function of this system, we should at the same time raise the axis EE’ of the celestial Sphere up to Delphi, which will become a Cosmic Center. Thus the “gate of the gods” will be found to the right of Delos and the “gate of mortals” to the left of the Necromanteion.

The position of the Necromanteion as a central gate to Hades is identified with the movement of the Sun and it can not be located outside of the straight line Delos-Necromanteion. The non existence of the Necromanteion also abolishes the function of reincarnation. So, the more the Greek civilization spreads, the further the Necromanteion is distanced from Delos. That is why Lucian talks about Hades beyond the Pillars of Heracles (Gibraltar) in 160 A.D.

Gate of Mortals

The Necromanteion or Nekyomanteion (“νέκυς” is the Greek word for dead) of Acheron (image IV) is located in the west part of Epirus, in the province of Preveza, north of the river Acheron. Homer mentions it alongside the sanctuary of Dodoni. It is estimated that it began its operation back in 1500 B.C.

The site of the Necromanteion was visited by many heroes for various reasons, like Theseus, Heracles, the son of Achilles Neoptolemy, Orpheus, Aeneas, Laodamia and Odysseus. They could of course enter Hades through some secondary entrance, but they would end up in the same place, because the acreage of Hades is fixed, the Necromanteion, because here lies the Palace of Hades and Persephone, where the river Acheron flows. This way the site of the Necromanteion was advertized so much, that the believers flocked there by the thousands. Moreover, a more systematic promotion of the cults happened during the reign of Pyrrhus, the son of Aeacides and Phthia, who propagated that he was descendant, on his father’s side, from Achilles. Pyrrhus was also the second cousin of Alexander the Great. Among the gods he promoted was also Persephone.

At Acheron river, time has a different meaning

Acheron was a son of Gaia who was sentenced to remain underground because he helped the Giants in their battle with the Olympian Gods. So this cold river for large periods of time was lost under the earth and reappeared, forming a dirty stagnation, with a depressing landscape; the lake Acherusia (image V) the name of which comes from the word “άχος” (achos) which means “sorrow”. Then it headed to the west towards the Ionian Sea. Cocytus, the “river of sighs” and Phlegethon, the “fiery river”, were two tributaries which both flowed into the river and the lake. In Cocytus also flowed the underground waters of the chasm of Styx. It was in this chasm that Thetis sank her son Achilles to make him immortal, with sole vulnerable spot the part of the foot where she held him from.
The scene was completed by deaths from malaria, because of the mosquitoes that arrived in swarms in the surrounding area and of the birds or animals which died from the fumes of the lake. Moreover, in the winter the whole flatland stagnated, leaving a hill above the surface of the water, like an island, on which the Necromanteion stood, at the point when Acheron moved towards the sea.

So then Charon transports with his boat the souls through the swamps of Acheron, to the other bank of the river for the cost of an obol (1/6 of a drachma). Acheron, just like the Nile of Egypt, is a border between Life-East and Death-West, as it descends from the North to the South. Charon directs the funerary boat and the souls row, through the environment we described. On the other bank Hades (Invisible) awaits with Cerberus and Orthus, his dogs, to transport the souls to the chthonic space, in order for them to be judged by Rhadamanthus and Sarpedon who were brothers of Minos, and the son of Zeus Aeacus. After judgment, the souls would proceed either towards the fountain of oblivion, next to the white cypress to the left of Hades, or they would follow the path to the fountain of remembrance, to the right, walking towards immortality. Judgment was about the serving of justice, namely punishment for those who headed towards the fountain of oblivion and reward for those who headed for the fountain of remembrance. The opinion of the Orphics was that the soul, depending on the mistakes of man while living, will enter in another body of an animal or human for catharsis and deliverance.



Necromateion of Ephyra

The Necromanteion (Image VI) is composed by the main Sanctuary which is a square with sides of 22 meters, within an auxiliary site that surrounds it. If we compare the Telesterion of Eleusis with the main shrine of the Necromanteion, we will observe that the two buildings are similar because both are structural representations of Hades. Their structural differences come from the different use of the sacred sites.

Archeologist S. Dacaris dates the main Sanctuary of the Necromanteion 150 later than that of Eleusis; this indicates that it followed the structural logic of Ictinus (Pericleon). Despite this, the exterior of the Necromanteion seems structurally primitive, like the walls of Tiryns, namely a construction based on the Lesbian structure. According to architect and archeologist A. Orlando, this system is known in the 7th century B.C., rises in the 6th century B.C. and declines in the 5th century B.C. In any way, it is clear that the clergy follows certain basic construction models so that the believer is not confused.

The believer enters the Necromanteion from the North through a courtyard with the auxiliary spaces and the rooms for priests and visitors. From there he would turn to the east to enter the northern corridor of the oracle, where (to the left) there were rooms for the preparation of the visitor, a psychological and physical preparation, in a completely dark space, where circulation was only possible by candles. He ate foods, like in the funerary dinners, which essentially drugged him and he heard hollow prayers to the chthonic gods. After his cleansing with water, he followed, escorted by the priest, the eastern corridor, throwing along the way a stone on a pile to remove the bad influence. Next, washing his hands in a marble sink, like they do in catholic churches, he would enter with a western direction the corridor of the Labyrinth, which is located south, where he was completely disoriented and only with the help of the Priest he would be able to proceed. If the modern visitor repeats the same course blindfolded and with the help of a friend because the temple is in ruins, he will have the same result as the believers once had.

The Labyrinth was constructed by three arched metal gates, which represented the gates of Hades; therefore in this exact place begins the use of the curvilinear construction for the chthonic gods, (you can read more about Rectilinear and Curvilinear architecture here). The beliver would finally turn to the North and reach the main hall, where the invoked deceased of the visitor appeared in the back, accompanied by the idol of Persephone, who had her palace below the hall.

The thick walls of the main part of the sanctuary, according to the archeologist S. Dakaris, concealed hallways so that the Priests could move around unseen. In fact one such corridor was discovered between two exterior walls. Consequently the believer would talk to the back of the hall, asking for answers, which he actually received from the clergy. Of course no one questioned the process we described, since even Lucian, to avoid the accusation of “irreverence” in 160 A.D., moved the scene of necromancy from Acheron to Mesopotamia. During his departure, the believer left through a different exit, in absolute silence, because the announcement of anything he saw and heard incurred the death penalty.

The palace of Hades and Persephone still has strong presence

Below the central hall where the believer conversed, was located the Palace of Hades and Persephone, with the fifteen chthonic arches. The floor was natural rock, rugged, because it was about the chthonic nature – “Gaia”. In the back, the long and narrow room facing north ended in a rock wall, through which the souls passed to main Hades to be judged. It is from there that the souls came to meet the living believer who invoked them on the upper floor, from the roof of which, the idol of the goddess was raised and lowered. In the northern side of the basement of the Palace of Persephone then, exists a theoretical gate, in the form of a tunnel. And because it is about a soul, there was no reason for openings, as the souls can phase through matter. This is a logic that we inherited and that is why it does not cause us questions when we are told about it or we watch it in the movies.