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Road Trip Peloponnesus & Central Greece

Peloponnesus

The Peloponnese covers an area of some 21,549.6 km² (8,320 square miles) and constitutes the southernmost part of mainland Greece. While technically it may be considered an island, since the construction of the Corinth Canal in 1893 – like other peninsulas that have been separated from their mainland by man-made bodies of waters – it is rarely, if ever, referred to as an "island". It has two land connections with the rest of Greece, a natural one at the Isthmus of Corinth, and an artificial one in the shape of the Rio-Antirio bridge (completed 2004).

The peninsula has a mountainous interior and deeply indented coasts, with Mount Taygetus its highest point at 2,407 m. It possesses four south-pointing peninsulas, the Messenian peninsula, the Mani Peninsula, the Cape Malea peninsula (also known as Epidaurus Limera), and the Argolid in the far northeast of the Peloponnese.

Two groups of islands lie off the Peloponnesan coast: the Argo-Saronic Islands to the east, and the Ionian Islands to the west. The island of Kythera, off the Epidaurus Limera peninsula to the south of the Peloponnese, is considered to be part of the Ionian Islands.

Olympus

Mount Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece, at 2,917 and one of the highest, in real absolute altitude from base to top, of Europe since its base is located at sea level; it is situated at 40°05′N 22°21′E, in mainland Greece.

Mount Olympus is noted for its very rich flora with several endemic species. The highest peak on Mount Olympus is Mitikas, which in Greek means "nose" (an alternative transliterated spelling of this name is "Mytikas"). Mitikas is the highest peak in Greece, the second highest being Skolio (2912 m). Any climb to Mount Olympus starts from the town of Litochoro, which took the name City of Gods because of its location on the roots of the mountain.

In Greek mythology, Mount Olympus is considered the home of the Twelve Olympians, the principal gods in the Greek pantheon. The Greeks thought of it as built up with crystal mansions wherein the gods, such as Zeus (The King of Gods and Goddesses), dwelt. It is also known in Greek mythology that when Gaia (mother earth) gave birth to the Titans (the ancestors of the gods) they used the mountains in Greece as their thrones since they were so huge, and Cronus (the youngest and most powerful of the Titans) sat on Mount Olympus itself. The etymology and meaning of the name Olympus (Olympos) is unknown, and it may be of Pre-Indo-European origin. 

Pelion

Pelion (Pilio) is a mountain at the southeastern part of Thessaly in central Greece, forming a hook-like peninsula between the Pagasetic Gulf and the Aegean Sea.

In Greek mythology, Mountain Pelion (which took its name from the mythical king Peleus, father of Achilles) was the homeland of Chiron the Centaur, tutor of many ancient Greek heroes, such as Jason, Achilles, Theseus and Heracles. When the giants Otus and Ephialtes attempted to storm Olympus, they piled Mount Pelion upon Mount Ossa, which became a proverbial allusion for any huge but fruitless attempt.

Today, Mt. Pelion is part of the prefecture of Magnesia (capital city: Volos) and embraces 24 villages (most significant: Portaria, Makrinitsa, Milies, Tsangarada, Zagora, Argalasti etc.)

The mountains are entirely forested, with beech, oak, maple and chestnut trees. Pelion is a tourist attraction throughout the year: the mountain includes trails and sidewalks for walking within small and large beaches with sand or pebbles. Modern Pelio has twenty-four villages built with traditional Pelian architecture.