The Greek ministries of culture and environment recently submitted a nomination file to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for the inclusion of Mount Olympus in the coveted list.
The nomination file, which included efforts dating back to 2014, followed a close collaboration between the two ministries and the Natural Environment & Climate Change Agency (OFYPEKA) that incorporated the committee’s notes on the preliminary file into its final edition.
“We’ve worked together really hard to create a comprehensive file that meets all necessary criteria ensuring Mount Olympus can be protected and promoted as a World Heritage site of unique cultural and environmental significance in the future,” said Culture Minister Lina Mendoni.
On that note, Deputy Minister of Environment and Energy Yiorgos Amiras informed that a presidential decree issued in 2021 already protects and manages Olympus’ natural environment. The deputy minister expressed his hope that the mountain will soon find its place on the World Heritage list.
UNESCO’s decision to include Mount Olympus on the list is expected by September 2023. It is noted that only two areas in Greece – Meteora and Mount Athos – are registered as mixed cultural and natural World Heritage sites.
There are currently 1,155 World Heritage sites. To be included on the list as a mixed site, a monument must meet the criteria of intangible cultural heritage, rich biodiversity, and significant ecological and biological life evolution processes, among other requirements.
The inclusion of an area on the UNESCO list can offer several benefits to the local community, including increased recognition and tourist traffic, but also imposes strict rules on the protection and management of its environment.
With a height of 2,918 meters, Mount Olympus was declared the first National Forest of Greece in 1938, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1981, and a National Park in 2021.
The mountain is one of the richest regions in Greece in terms of flora, with 1,700 species and subspecies of plants representing 25 percent of all Greek flora. Its 26 endemic plants are the largest number of endemic plants found in any Greek mountain.
The intangible cultural heritage of Mount Olympus includes Greek myths about the Twelve Gods of Olympus, and Greek folk songs that survive to this day, describing the mountain as a refuge for the downtrodden.
The mountain is a popular tourism destination for nature lovers and hikers from all over the world, who visit it to admire the steep peaks and natural beauty of the “Mountain of the Gods.”