Authored by Douglas Mefford in Europe
Published on 08-03-2009
Mountains have always inspired awe and a sense of majesty in humans. Throughout history certain mountains have become a part of the very fabric of society and civilization. Europe is home to many of the most famous mountains to rear above the plains and valleys of our planet.
Since ancient times Mount Olympus in the Macedonian region of Greece is the legendary home of the Hellenistic Gods of the Old World. At nearly 10,000 feet from its sea level base to the “Throne of Zeus” at her crown, Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece and one of the most topographically prominent in all of Europe.
Only a short distance West along the Mediterranean coast, Italy provides the location for two more of the most famous mountains in Europe. In 79 A.D. the volcanic Mount Vesuvius earned her place in history with a massive eruption which buried the Roman cities of Pompeii and Hercalaneum under a destructive blanket of lava and ash. Vesuvius still maintains an active life. Her last major eruption was barely over fifty years ago and she still has the potential to cause damage to the city of Naples. Just across the Strait of Messina on the Italian island of Sicily is one of the most active volcanoes on Earth. Mount Etna is the largest of the three active volcanoes in Italy and is in a perpetual state of activity that often closes tourist access to the peak.
Moving North are three more of the most famous mountains in Europe. The Alps mountain range along the border between Italy, France and Switzerland is also an extremely popular tourist and mountain climbing venue. While Mont Blanc is not the highest peak in Europe it does not miss by much and is well covered by cable cars and climbing tours. Jungfrau in the central part of the range has the distinction of bearing the highest railway on the continent. The railway line tops out at over 11,000 feet above sea level and offers some of the most spectacular scenery you can find in the Alps.
Then there is the Matterhorn. This distinctive pyramid-like peak is the definitive landmark of the Alps. The Matterhorn has always been one of the benchmark mountain climbing experiences for the experienced. With steep slopes and unpredictable weather this mountain is equally famous for the number of lives it has claimed. For the less daring, the Matterhorn’s heights can be appreciated by utilizing the Klein Matterhorn cable car lift. Reaching 12,500 feet, this is the highest cable car in Europe.
Not all of Europe’s famous mountains are on the mainland. Scotland in the United Kingdom is home to the UK’s highest peak, Ben Nevis. While the North Slope provides an exciting challenge for the experienced climber, the mountain provides many easier slopes for the 100,000 plus climbers who enjoy this popular height.
While there are many more famous mountains throughout Europe rising in such magnificent ranges as the Carpathians, the Pyrenees, the Dinaric Alps and the Jura Mountains, these are but the best known around the world. All these fascinating geological features are well equipped to demonstrate the sublime beauty of planet Earth.