Mount Parnassus, Overview
Mount Parnassus, Overview
The mountain offers a diversity of activities to the modern tourist. In the wintertime skiers and snowboarders frequent the two major ski centers, Kellaria and Fterolakka respectively which constitute the largest ski resort in Greece. There is also a minor ski center called Gerontovrachos run by the Athens Ski Club.
Other than that, it is considered a paradise for the hikers because of the vast network of trails running the whole mountain. From summer until fall one can climb to the highest peak of Parnassus called Liakoura. It took me half an hour to climb following the signaled trail and found out that the view was breathtaking and the temperature pretty low. To reach the top any other time of the year you need alpine skis.
In case you are an alpine skier and find yourself in need of an adrenalizing experience I suggest the crossing of Liakoura to Velitsa and Tithorea or alternatively from Gerontovrachos to Livadi plateau.
Special well signaled biker tracks are extremely interesting. A well known track leads from Parnassus to Delphi and vice versa.
For those who are interested to take up riding lessons, or simply ride a horse, all you have to do is visit Livadi where horse farms are located.
The mountain and the surrounding areas provide various options for the restless travelers. Visit the small picturesque villages in the vicinity of Parnassus or the archeological sites of which the most famous is Delphi the heart of the ancient world. If you are willing to discover the intense night life you should probably stay in Arachova; the village is greatly organized and you shall find anything you ask for; from athletic gear, to traditional quality products, taverns, restaurants and luxurious hotels.
On the contrary if are focused on your privacy and want to stay away from the crowds there are plenty of hotels or rooms to provide you with that in almost every village from a close to a long range depending on the places you want to visit.
Parnassus is the eponym hero of Mount Parnassus, sacred to Apollo. Parnassus was the descendant of the nymph Kleodora and Poseidon. He was said to be also of mortal descend, fathered by Kleopompus. Parnassus was the founder of the Oracle of Pitho, which Apollo later seized; it must have been the god himself who contrived to predict the future based on the observation of the birds’ flight manner.
Mount Parnassus is also the place where Deucalion’s and Pyrra’s ark reached after the cataclysm came to an end. On the mountain summit they thanked Zeus Fixius, the Corycian Nymphs, the mountain deities and the goddess Themis. An oracle by Themis revealed that in order for people to return, Deucalion and Pyrra had to cover their heads and throw behind bones of their mother. Considering this mother as Mother Earth, they did as they were advised; the stones they threw were transformed to men and women and they were called “laos” from the word “laas” meaning stone.
Deucalion’s grandson Doros, son of Hellinas and Orthriis founded the first Doric colony on Mount Parnassus. He inherited the lands of central Greece (Doris). His elder brothers Ksouthos and Aiolos inherited Peloponnesus and Thessaly respectively.
Standing on the peaks of Parnassus the Thiiades pleaded the winds in ecstasy in honor of Apollo and Dionysos. Their journey to Parnassus started from Athens and it was realized every two years in the end of fall (month of Maemaktirion – November) in order to join the Delphi Maenads for the celebration of the coming of Dionysos.
Another ancient god, Hermes, is taught while in Parnassus the art of augury by the use of pebbles. This knowledge he bartered for playing the flute with Apollo as they had agreed. Apollo called the Muses in Parnassus symbolizing the introduction of these ancient deities in the new Olympian pantheon in relation to Apollo as god of light and reflection. According to the myth it was Apollo who taught Orpheus to play the lyre. After Orpheus’s death the Muses put his instrument among the stars.
Ulysses, king of Ithaca, was also said to have visited his grandfather Aftolykos in Parnassus. While hunting with his uncles he had his thigh traumatized by a boar. Thus he got a scar, which would help his nanny Evrikleia, servants Evmaeo and Filitio as well as his farther Laertis to identify him after his return to Ithaca.
How to get there
MOUNT PARNASSUS,south and north
Boetia and Fokida prefecture
You can reach south Mount Parnassos both from Athens and from Patra. Should you choose to stay in the picturesque village of Arachova, you can visit:
- Corycian Cave
- Marmara site
- Orchomenos (on the way from Athens)
- Trofonio Oracle and Zeus Temple (Leivadia)
- Osios Loukas Monastery
From Patra to Arachova
If you are coming to Greece using your own car you will be probably using the port of Patra, located in the western part of Peloponese. It is possible to visit the Parnassos mountain from there, by taking the alternative way to Athens. Instead of heading east through Peloponese, you can use the Rio-Antirio bridge and pass to the other side of the Corinthian bay. Then follow the sings to Delphi and then Arachova
Estimated time:2 hours and 40 mins
Distance: 134 km
From Athens to Arachova
If you find yourself in Athens you will have to take the Attiki Odos from the exit located nearest to you, direction Elefsina. Take the exit to Lamia and you find yourself on the national road, which you will follow for about one hour till you reach and exit Kastro, at 109,8km. Follow the sings to Orchomenos,which you reach after 16km(WPT:ORCHOMENOS) and where you can take a brake and visit the antiquities. Get back to the road leading to Leivadia and after 7,5km you have to turn left to the crossroad to Leivadia and Arachova. Unless you want to visit the Trofonio Oracle, don't enter Livadia but pass outside, go straight and follow the main road, going up the mountain. There are many sings indicating the road to Arachova, Delfi and the Ski Resorts of Parnassos. On the way you can make a deviation and visit Ossios Loukas, the Byzantine Monastery. Leave the main road about 22 km after Livadia and follow the sings to Ossios Loukas and Distomo.
Estimated time : 2 hours
Distance: 170 km
The north side of the mountain is less developed than the south , but you can still find many nice places in small villages to stay and eat. We recommend to stay at Amfikleia, or the surrounding villages as Polidrosso. From here you can visit:
- Polydrosso,Ag. Eleousa
- Liakoura peak and Velitsa
- Orchomenos and Cheronia
From Athens to Amfikleia
If you find yourself in Athens you will have to take the Attiki Odos from the exit located nearest to you, direction Elefsina. Take the exit to Lamia and you find yourself on the national road, which you will follow for about one hour till you reach and exit Kastro, at 109,8km. Follow the sings to Orchomenos,which you reach after 16km(WPT:ORCHOMENOS) and where you can take a brake and visit the antiquities. Get back on the road to Leivadia after 7,5km you have to turn right to the crossroad to Chaeronia and Amfikleia. You have to drive for 40 km around the foot of the mountain to reach Amfikleia. There are sings throughout the way. Take a brief stop at Chaeronia to visit the ancient statue of the Lion of Chaeronia sculptured in memory of the grate battle of Cheronia.
Estimated time : 2 hours
Distance: 174 km
NORTH TO SOUTH PARNASSOS: Unifying Route
It is possible to visit both sides of Mount Parnassos without getting off the mountain, but simply by crossing it. It is an alpine road, often covered with snow or ice so it is mandatory to have snow chains at least in the winter, even if the weather seams to be nice. In the alpine zone the weather changes constantly and without warning, so be prepared. We strongly recommend not to use this road in case of bad weather conditions or after sunset. Although the snow rate is high, the road remains always open due to the three ski centers located on the mountain. Traffic problems may occur on weekends, because the mountain is close to Athens and the road too narrow for the thousands of skiers and visitors that gather in the largest Greek ski area.
From Amfikleia to Arachova and vice versa
Take the way to the ski centers from Amfikleia and pass the first one (Fterolaka). Go towards Kellaria. After passing Kellaria ski center the road will start descending. Don't turn left to Eptalofos but continue left to Arachova. Shortly after you will reach the Livadi plateau. From here you can follow the directions for the various spots described further on, or continue to Arachova and Delphi. If the starting point is Arachova, just follow the signs to ski centers, first Kellaria and then Fterolaka, and then go down to Amfikleia or Polidrossos.
Estimated time: 1 hour and 20 mins
There is also an easier but longer way, back to Leivadia, and from there to Arachova and then up to Livadi plateau.
From Livadi plateau
In this guide, we will use as a referral point the Livadi plateau, (38º31'18,09''N and 22º32'49,39'') which can be reached both from Amfikleia(see unifying route) and Arachova. To get there from Arachova, just follow the signs to Parnassos ski Centers and you will reach the plateau.
All the routes to the spots described here involve driving in dirt tracks which viability depends much on the weather conditions of the area in the last days. So, it is highly recommended to use a 4x4WD car, although in summer when dry, it is quite possible to go with a conventional car. It is also possible to leave the car on the main road and walk through the dirt tracks, the distances are not too long and the beauty of the alpine nature makes the hiking very pleasant.