Litochoro of Olympus was founded by the inhabitants of ancient Pimpleia. Ancient Pimpleia was an important cult center of the Pimpleian Muses and belonged to the city of Dion. The ancient settlement was built on the banks of the river Enipeas, but due to frequent flooding the inhabitants were forced to settle in the present location of Litochoro.
The name of the town is linked to the myth and history on the one hand, and to the natural environment on the other. According to tradition, it was originally called Letochoro because it was the home of Leto, who used to bathe in the waters of the Enipeas. According to another version, the spelling ‘Litochoro’ is due to the litho area or the Byzantine word ‘liti’, meaning prayer. It is also possible that it came from the name ‘Lithochoro’ which means ‘stone place’. In various maps of Macedonia of the 16th and 17th centuries, it is referred to as “Lissas’ ‘ from the Homeric “lis”, meaning cliff or bare-ground stone. A later version is the name Lytochoro, meaning “lyto”, a free place, which considered Ottoman rule lax.
Location of Litochoro
Litochoro is built on the site of the ancient small town of Pimpleia, next to the Enipeas River, from whose waters, according to tradition, it was once destroyed. It belonged administratively to Dion (3rd century BC) and was the cult center of the Muses of Piblia. The inhabitants then moved and set up the nucleus of the later structured settlement in its present location. The monoliths found in the river Chelopotamos (the ancient Vafyra), testify to the existence of a port dock (pier) from the time of the Macedonian state. In this river later the Litochorites sailors secured their ships in winter. The experienced sailors of our region manned the ships of the Macedonian navy, which followed the Macedonian convoys.
In 168 BC, before the Battle of Pydna, the rival armies of the Macedonians and Romans camped on the left and right banks of the river Enipeas, in the area of present-day Litochoro. In the ‘Christianized Roman state of the East’, the main concern of the Byzantine emperors was the Christianization of the inhabitants of areas where the cult of the Olympian gods (Dodecatheus) still had a foothold. In Byzantine times, the region of Olympus was one of the last where the cult of Dodecatheus dominated. The emperor Theodosius the Great (4th century AD) moved island families of Christians and settled them on the eastern foothills of Mount Olympus, in the area of present-day Litochoro.
After the fall of Constantinople, during the Ottoman rule, the situation changed, as did the activities. Many people came or became thieves on Mount Olympus and annoyed the Turks, at a time when the Greek population struggled to survive and preserve their cultural elements under the constant pressure of the Turks. According to another view, Justinian (6th century AD) destroyed these settlements, because they were pagan, and created Litochoro in its present location.
What to do at Litochoro
In the area, the main activities one can do are hiking, climbing and exploring the rich flora and fauna. There are 9 routes to the mountain, the most popular being the one leading to the “Prionia” position, through the gorge of Enipeas. Near “Prionia”, the waters of the river form small waterfalls. At the “Gorcza” position, a few kilometers before “Prionia”, the route to the plateau of Muses (at 2,600 m) and from there to higher peaks of the mountain begins. Some mountaineering routes also start from Dion and Petra. The wider area is also suitable for canyoning, 4×4 car routes, mountain biking, climbing, etc.
The beaches of Variko, Gritsa and Plaka (the port of Litochoro) are ideal for holidays. The secluded pebble or sandy beaches of Litochoro combine absolute tranquility with a visit to Ancient Dion, the sacred city of the Macedonians. In Gritsa and Plaka you will find the most sought after beach bars, which often host famous DJs for entertainment until the morning , restaurants , cafeterias of Pieria.The beaches are huge and one can enjoy the sunset and the sandy sea.Oh In recent years there have been significant investments in five star hotels, such as the Mediterranean Village & Spa in Paralia Katerini and Cavo Olympo & Spa in Plaka Litochoro.