Olympus is clearly described in Homer's Iliad. It was essentially an ancient akropolis--a fortified hill-top and palace complex--located just below the peaks of Mount Olympus. The golden gates of the heavenly fortress were guarded by the three Horai (Horae) and it contained the palace of Zeus, lesser palaces for the other gods, and stables for the immortal horses. The buildings were built of stone with bronze foundations and were surrounded by cloistered courtyards with golden pavements.
The main structure was the palace of Zeus. It had a fairly simple layout--as was typical of ancient Greek palaces--with a central hall, private bedchambers and storage rooms. The golden-floored hall served as both a council chamber and feast-hall for the Olympians and provided them an expansive view of the world below allowing them to observe mankind from the heights. The golden tables and tripods of the feast were automatons animated by the divine smith Hephaestus, and trundled in and out of the hall as required. Before the palace of Zeus was a large, cloistered courtyard where the full assembly of the gods would gather--including all of the earth-, river- and sea-deities as well as nymphs. The peak of Olympus functioned as the secondary seat or throne of Zeus, apart from the rest of other gods.
The Olympian akropolis lay above the clouds and the paths of the stars, near the apex of the solid bronze-dome of the sky. It existed in the zone known as the aither--the bright upper-air of heaven or shining blue of the sky. The gods feasted on ambrosia and nectar, substances collected from the meadows of the earth-encircling river Okeanos or the smoke of sacrificial offerings wafting to heaven.
The twelve Olympians and gods that resided at Mount Olympus were:
- Poseidon (stays under the water by choice)
- Hades (stays in the underworld by choice)
- Herakles (protector of the Gods)
- Momus (banned)
- Ganymede (cup-bearer of the Gods)
Other minor gods lived on Mount Olympus as well, such as:
- Bia (Force)
- Kratos (Strength)
- Nike (Victory)
- Zelos (Rivalry)
- Themis (Divine Law)
- Nemesis (Retribution)
- The Horae (Guards of the Gates of Olympus)
- Anicetus (Physical Defender of Olympus)
- Alexiares (Physical Defender of Olympus)
- Zeus (reign Mount Olympus as) the King of Olympus.
- Hera (reign Mount Olympus as) the Queen of Olympus.