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Mountain Symbolism (Top 9 Meanings)

Mountain Symbolism (Top 9 Meanings)

Mountains stand as giants before humanity, so it is not surprising that they often inspire feelings of reverence and awe in us. As petrified as the man was to climb these giants, they still demanded his respect

The vastness and incredible heights have led many cultures to believe that mountains reach the heavens. So, mountains are the closest humans can reach to the heavens on the earthly plane.

Many religions and cultures have different opinions regarding mountain symbolism and meaning. Let’s find out more!

Mountains symbolise positive things such as: freedom, adventure, strength, protection, the force of nature, and sacredness. 

Mountain Symbolism and Meanings

Dolomites mountains alps.
Image by kordula vahle on Pixabay

The mountains are often the focus of pilgrimages leading to spiritual awakenings. Moreover, the mountains inspired many artists and writers to create incredible works of art.

Why Do People Symbolize the Mountains?

The mountains were always looked at as powerful and awe-inspiring parts of nature. One cannot help but feel inspired by their magnificence, which is why they are often the subjects of literary and art pieces. Humans have always seen the mountains as a personification of freedom and adventure. 

However, the mountains symbolized the unobtainable in the past due to a lack of passages. This often meant the mountains were thought to be the edge of the world by the earliest civilizations due to their inability to cross them. 

Humans have always tended to attach meanings to things they consider bigger than themselves, and the mountains are a force of power. So, it is unsurprising that the mountains were considered symbols of great things.


Backpacker standing on the edge of mountain range.
Image by Henning Sørby on Pixabay

For many, the mountains represent the ultimate freedom from the constraints and stresses of daily life. There are hikers, bikers, and even those occasionally heading to the mountains that attach the symbolism of freedom to mountains. 

The mountains represent the ultimate freedom, as the rules of civilization do not matter that high up. You do not have to keep anything bottled up.

You can scream out your frustrations, run, sing, and dance like nobody’s watching because no one is. Only the vastness of nature can witness you up on the mountains.


Woman standing the on edge of mountains.
Image by taf78 from Pixabay 

Humanity’s desire for adventure has led to today’s interconnectedness. The yearning for adventure prompted the explorers to go out and cross great distances, find ways to climb mountains and discover new continents. 

The mountains offer humans many paths and new things to discover, which satiates our thirst for adventure. This is why hiking is such a popular sport. It allows people to get lost in nature and discover new things. 

Force of nature

Man standing on the edge of mountains with a lake.
Image by Pexels on Pixabay

If there is one thing humans have always respected and considered powerful, it is the mountains. For people, the mountains are a force of nature, a physical manifestation of nature’s full powers. A person cannot help but feel insignificant standing before these giants. 

With their immovable strength, they remind humanity that nature is a force to be reckoned with. In the past, the mountains were even believed to be sleeping giants waiting to be woken up.

The edge of the world

Rocky mountain range with river.
Image by Jörg Vieli on Pixabay

If you have looked at old maps of the world, you might have noticed that they often end at the beginning of mountain ranges. This was because there were no safe passages for people to continue their explorations.

So, the mountains were the end of the road, leading people to assume they were the world’s edge. As they could not pass the mountains, many cultures even thought nothing was beyond them.

Of course, today, with technological advancement, for example, with airplanes, no mountain cannot be passed, but in the past, they have rightfully been considered the end of the road.

The sacredness of mountains 

Rocks piled on mountain top.

Many cultures and religions throughout human history have held sacred beliefs regarding mountain symbolism and meaning. Many mountains around the globe are considered to be sacred. 

According to Edwin Bernbaum, even though different most sacred mountains share similar patterns and themes that are represented in a certain culture. These include height, center, power, deity, temple or place of worship, paradise or garden, ancestors and the dead, identity, source, transformation, inspiration, and renewal. 

Some sacred mountains in the world are the following:

Mount Olympus 

Olympus Mountain in Greece.
Olympus Mountain in Greece

One of the most well-known sacred mountains is Mount Olympus, in Greece, whose peak is considered the home of the ancient Greek Gods. 

According to ancient myths, the mountain was also the location of the War of the Titans, where the Greek Gods defeated the Titans.

Mount Kailash 

Tibet. Mount Kailash. South face.
Tibet. Mount Kailash. South face.

This mountain in Tibet is considered sacred by five religions Jainism, Hinduism, Bon, Sikhism, and Ayyavazhi. According to the beliefs of Hinduism and Ayyavazhi, Mount Kailash is the home of the God Shiva.

According to Buddhist belief, Mount Kailash is the home of the guardian deity Samvara, and the mountain has supernatural powers that can clean the sins of any person’s lifetime. Jainists believe that their founder reached enlightenment on Mount Kailash. 

Followers of Bon believe that a wind goddess lives on Kailash, and the Sikhs believe the first Sikh Guru visited the mountain during the third Uddasi (Spiritual Journey).

Mount Meru

Beautiful view of Meru mountain.
Beautiful view of Meru mountain

This is a cosmic mountain extremely important in the Hindu religion. The Hindus believe this cosmic mountain is the center of all creation and home to the Gods Shiva and Parvati. 

Also, according to Indian mythology, it is said that the sun, moon, and stars revolve around Mount Meru.

Mount Sinai

The medieval fortified monastery of St Catherine, located at the foot of the rocky mount in the same named town, Sinai, Egypt.
The medieval fortified monastery of St Catherine, located at the foot of the rocky mount in the same named town, Sinai, Egypt

According to the Torah, Mount Sinai is where God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. Saint Catherine’s Monastery is located at the foot of Mount Sinai, founded by empress Helena, the mother of Constantine, the first Christian Roman emperor. 

Art and literature

Virgin and Child with St. Anne, oil painting on panel (c.1510 AD) by Italian Artist Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
Virgin and Child with St. Anne, oil painting on panel (c.1510 AD) by Italian Artist Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

As is often the case, the artists first saw and captured the raw beauty and emotions mountains inspire. For example, Leonardo da Vinci was greatly inspired by his climb of the Alps. In his pieces, the Virgin and Child with St Anne and Virgin of the Rocks, da Vinci managed to capture feelings of the infinite. 

Titian is another artist that was greatly inspired by the mountains. His paintings of the Alpine foothills invoke feelings of longing and deep love. The biggest symbol of the greatness of the mountains is Giambologna’s statue personifying the Apennines as a bearded giant.

Many writers were also deeply moved by the mountains. It was Jung who, upon gazing from the peak of Rigi, was filled with such reverence that he was convinced mountains contained God’s essence.


In conclusion, there are many different opinions based on cultures and religions. Still, they can also be similar, as many cultures see mountains as sacred. While on individual levels, mountains are associated with freedom and adventure. 

For many, the mountains are the place where they can go to recharge from their daily stresses.