Since 1938, the 3.933 hectares of northern slopes and high peaks of Mt Olympus were declared as the National Park, with the aim of preserving the natural environment of the zone. The flora and fauna are of exceptional beauty and value, and it’s no surprise that holidaymakers, sports fanatics and even scientists come from across the planet to see and enjoy the area. The European Community has included Olympus in the list of “The Most Important Bird areas of the European Community”, and in 1981, UNESCO declared Olympus a “Biosphere Reserve”.
Entrance to the National Park is allowed from sunrise to sunset and only while adhering to marked routes. Visitors must keep in mind the following which are prohibited:
- access to children under 14 without a guide
- parking outside the designated parking areas
- cutting down trees, removing soil, collecting bushes, plants or seeds
- hunting any type of animal in any way, all year round
- lighting fires and outdoor camping
- destroying or collecting nests, eggs or hatchlings, distrubing or harming fauna
- causing damage to geological formations
- pets without a leash
Twenty three rare species of endemic plants, as well as many Alpine – and even a few plants from western Asia – are to be found on the peaks of Mt Olympus. Amongst the endemic plants found here are Viola striis-notata, Erysimum olympicum, Cerastium theophrastii, Viola pseudograeca, Potentilla deorum, Genista sakellariadis, Campanula oreadum and more, whille the Jankea helreichii species is a particularly interesting species as it is a remnant of the Ice Age.
Other species growing here are rare Balkan plants such as Saxifraga scardica and the Crocus veluchensis, and rare Alpine plants such as Carlina acaulis and Linaria alpina, as well as Asian species such as Omphalodes luciliae.
Photo: Isidre blanc
At a relatively low altitude, there are few shrubs of Mediterranean species and clumps of deciduous and coniferous trees (oaks, oaks, arbutus, heather, maples, elms, cedars and pine species Pinus sp, and fir Abies borissi regis). Near streams one can note the growth of trees, willows, alders and more.
At a slightly higher altitude, in cooler areas, two species of beech prevail (Fagus moesiaca και F. silvatica), while in drier and sunnier areas the black pine (Pinus nigra) grows. The other type is the Olympus pine, robolo (Pinus eldreichii),
Which has formed large forests that reach the verdant subalpine meadows, where the impressive red lily (Lilium clalcedonium) dominates amongst many other flower varieties, such as the genera Astragalus, Berberis, Daphne, Buxus, and Juniperus.