Russia/Georgia (5,642 m) – Tallest Mountain in Europe (alternate) and Middle East
Mount Elbrus may or may not be the tallest mountain in Europe depending on the definition. Located in the Caucasus Mountains in the border area between Russia and Georgia, it is part of the frontier between Europe and Asia. By most (though not by all) definitions it is part of Europe, and therefore the highest peak of that continent. If the Caucusus states are considered to be part of the Middle East, than Elbrus is the highest mountain in the Middle East as well. Its name is of Iranian or Kurdish origin and may mean something like “High Guard”.
Elbrus has a fascinating history, and is mentioned in both Persian and Greek legends. The earliest known ascent took place in 1829, though it is possible that the mountain was scaled earlier. Elbrus became a symbolic target of the Nazis and Soviets during World War II, and it roughly marked the end of German expansion during the occupation of the Caucasus. A Land Rover drove to the top in 1997.
Mount Elbrus is both very accessible and relatively easy to climb, making it one of the most popular major mountains for climbers. It is fairly close to the city of Pyatigorsk, about 60 miles away, and Sochi, about 100 miles away. The latter is the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics. A cable car carries visitors as high as 3,800 meters up the mountain side. Elbrus is famous for its outhouse, voted the “world’s nastiest” in 1993.