Project Description

4. The Sacred Trail

Abeliona - Agios Sostis - Likaio Mnt


This trail connects Ampeliona with the peak of Lycaeus Mountains.

In ancient times the Arcadians considered it a sacred mountain, one at a time, and there they believed that Zeus was born. The name Lycaeon is derived from the ancient root of lyc (lux in Latin), which means light. The Arcadians also named Olympus Lycaeus and Crete the Holy Top and believed this to explain the misunderstanding of the Cretans, who thought Zeus was born in Crete (Pausanias VIII.38.2).

At this peak there have been worship activities since the third millennium BC. and continued uninterruptedly until the Hellenistic years. Pausanias mentions the existence of an altar of Zeus at this peak, suggesting that human sacrifices might have taken place there (Pausanias VIII.38.7 – modern research has not confirmed this hypothesis). On a plateau, south of the summit, there was the mosque of Zeus. It was rather a mere cult enclosure, with no monumental character. Today, in this area, there is the small chapel of Prophet Elias of Ano Karyotes. To the east of the altar, a short distance from the chapel, are the bases of the two columns mentioned by Pausanias (VIII.38.7).

Since 2004, excavations have been carried out in the area of ​​the altar and the mosque, as well as in the Lycaean, music and gymnasiums of the Olympics, in collaboration with the Arcadia Antiquities Board and the American School of Classical Studies. Excavations have brought to light important findings that attest to the ancient origin of both worship activities and struggles.

On the initiative of the Cultural Association “The Lyceum of Zeus” of Ano Karyotes, the ancient Lyceans have been revived since 1973. The games are held every four years and in 2021 will be held for the 13th time.

Details

6.9 km 3h 25‘ 3/5




Starting point: Abeliona

Ending poind: Likaio Mnt

Main sights: Abeliona, Agios Sostis, Altar of Zeus

Connected to:  5. Trail of Bliss

Trail description

The route starts from Ampeliona, from the “Shop of Spyros”, and proceeds to the entrance of the village, where the Trani Fountain with its four valves is located (“Kubles”). From there, the steps lead to the Abeliona Retreat. Leaving behind the hostel, the trail climbs gently, in an area of ​​dense mixed vegetation and rich shade, until it reaches the asphalt road leading to the village of Agios Sostis. After crossing Agios Sostis, through cobbled streets, the trail begins to climb to the west slope of Lycaeus. The route is steeply uphill, for the most part, but the hiker is compensated as the view westward, step by step, becomes more and more impressive.

Shortly before the end of the climb, we will meet the Neruli fountain, in an area of ​​dense clumps of holly. Its cool water flows into a wooden “knob”. Then the path crosses a small plateau, with terraces, threshing floors and ruined huts, while in the background dominates, in its hemispherical shape, the peak of the Lycaeus Mountains, the Arcadian Top, the birthplace of Zeus.

Sightseeing spots

Abeliona

Built on the notorious crossroads of three counties, Arcadia, Ilias and Messinia, Ampeliona is a traditional mountain village surrounded by chestnut forests and innumerable natural springs. Cobblestone streets and old stone houses, hiding images, sounds and scents from another era, reveal themselves for a moment, before the fresh, mountainous air drifts away. A place that turns simple daily delights, into unique experiences that you want to experience again.

Agios Sostis

A picturesque village on the western slopes of Lycaeus. The Neda tributary, which crosses the village, originates from the its source spings “Kefalari”. In Agios Ioannis, at the north end of the village, the most important festival of the region takes place every year on August 29th.

Altar of Zeus

The altar of Zeus at the Arcadian Sanctuary. At this peak, according to the Arcadian version of the myth, Zeus was born. The name Lycaeon is derived from the ancient root of lyc (lux in Latin), which means light. The Arcadians also named the holy peak as Olympus Lycaeus and Cretea, and it is believed that this explains the misunderstanding of the Cretans, who thought Zeus was born in Crete (Pausanias, VIII.38.2).
At this peak there have been worship activities since the third millennium BC, and were continued uninterruptedly until the Hellenistic years. Pausanias mentions the existence of the altar and suggests that there may have been human sacrifices (Pausanias VIII.38.7 – modern research has not confirmed this hypothesis). On a plateau, south of the peak, there was the mosque of Zeus. It was rather a mere cult enclosure, with no monumental character. To the east of the altar, just a short distance from the mosque, are the bases of the two columns mentioned by Pausanias. (VIII.38.7).
Since 2004, excavations have been carried out in the area of the altar and the mosque, as well as in the Lycaean plays (music and gymnasium games), in collaboration with the Arcadia Antiquities Board and the American School of Classical Studies. Excavations have brought to light important findings that confirm the ancient origin of both worship activities and struggles.
With the initiative of the Cultural Association “The Lyceum of Zeus” of Ano Karyotes, the ancient Lyceans have been revived since 1973. The games are held every four years and in 2021 will be held for the 13th time.
The view from the top of Lycaeus is stunning. The three quarters of the Peloponnese and some Ionian islands appear. Next to the traces of the ancient worship of Zeus and surrounded by the silence of the imposing landscape, the visitor, if lucky, may feel that the place is vibrating with a cunning and mysterious energy.