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Archaeological Sites
Ancient Olympia
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In the region of Elis in the western Peloponnese, particularly in the ancient city of Olympia, once stood one of the most important and famous temples of the world and ancient Greece, dedicated to Zeus, the god of gods Olympia.


Olympia was known throughout Greece as both a religious and a sports center site, as it was the place where the Olympic Games took place every four years in honor of Zeus.

History
The oldest signs of human presence that have been found in the area, are dating back to the Neolithic era (4th millennium BC). The worship of Zeus at Olympia was established around the 10th to 9th century BC and many visitors arrived at the shrine from all parts of Greece, as the large number of offerings is proving.

The year 776 BC states the start of the Olympic Games which were organized for the first time in honor of Zeus. The Olympiad was held every four (4) years and throughout their duration truce prevailed throughout Greece. Over the years, the Olympic Games have acquired even greater importance and prestige in Greece. The number of events was increased in 472 BC and the duration of the events was increased to five instead of only one day that they were originally.
The winners of the competition received as prize only a wreath made of laurel leaves from the sacred tree of Zeus, but on the other side were regarded as heroes by their fellow citizens and enjoyed great honor. The importance and impact of the Olympic Games in Ancient Greece was so great that formed the basis of a common chronology for all Greeks, which started with the first games, the year 776 BC.

During the Archaic period the sanctuary of Olympia acquired great prestige and therefore the first buildings such as the Temple of Hera, the Prytaneion the parliament and stage were built. The increase of athletes, sports and of course the spectators forced the construction of well organized sporting facilities.

Then during the Classical era they built baths, halls (stoa), treasury, auxiliary buildings and the magnificent temple of Zeus, in which the gold and ivory statue of the god Zeus by Pheidias stood; one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The building construction continued even during the following Hellenistic and Roman eras.

During the early Byzantine period, the operation of the sanctuary continued up until year 393 AD when the last Olympic Games were held. A decree issued by Byzantine Emperor Theodosius I’ ordered the closure of all Greek temples, as a vestige of pagan worship.

The ancient site was discovered by the English traveler Richard Chandler in 1766. The first excavations in the area, made in 1829, revealed part of the temple of Zeus.
The excavations and surveys at the sanctuary are being continued until today and they still reveal valuable information about the history of the sacred. Important findings are housed in the Louvre Museum and the Archaeological Museum of Olympia while the maintenance and the restoration work of the monuments continues until today.

Description
The archaeological site of Olympia is located between the rivers Alpheus and Kladeo, at the foothills of the Kronios in a green valley full of trees.

The outer space, except the buildings with clear devotional character as the Temple of Zeus and other churches, includes several other buildings such as sports facilities for preparation of the Olympic Games, auxiliary buildings, administrative buildings and building of secular character.

The Altis, meaning grove, is located in the central part and includes mainly religious buildings such as the main part of the sanctuary, temples and offerings. The remaining buildings, the baths, the preparation rooms of the athletes, the gymnasium, the palaestra, the guesthouses, the villas and other buildings stand outside the precinct of the Altis.

Temple of Zeus
The Temple of Zeus was the largest temple in the Peloponnese and was built between 470 BC and 456 BC. It was located at the midpoint of the Altis and is a model example of the Doric architectural style.
At its narrow sides it had six (6) columns while at the elongated 13 columns, measuring 10.43 meters in height and 2.25 m diameter. The east pediment of the temple depicted the battle between Oenomaus and Pelopos, while the west pediment showed the battle between the Centaurs and Lapiths.

Inside the temple dominated one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the full of gold and ivory statue of Zeus with a height of 13 meters, created in Olympia around 430 BC by the sculptor Phidias. The body of Zeus was made of ivory and his clothes and his throne was out of gold. The statue was destroyed by a fire in Constantinopel, where it had been moved after the abolition of the Olympic Games.

Near to the temple of Zeus stood one wild olive tree from which the branches where used to create the olive branch, the wreath which was given to the winners of competitions.

Temple of Hera
The temple of Hera is one of the oldest temples of Greek architecture. The temple has the Doric style with six (6) columns at its narrow and 16 columns at its elongated sides, ie highly elongated and low.

It was originally made out of wood and only later replaced with stone columns. Inside once stood the statues of Zeus and Hera.

Boulefterion (Council House)
The Boulefterion stands outside the Altis. In this building, before the Games begun, athletes and judges gave their standard oath, a process that remains unchanged until this day and the modern Olympic Games.
The Boulefterion was also directly related to the conduct of the games, such as keeping records of the athletes, hear complaints, etc.

Prytaneion
The Prytaneion was the administrative center of the sanctuary.
It was the seat of the Rectors who ran the temple and also housed the olympic flame that burned constantly.

Stadium
The stadium was were the Olympic Games were held. It was situated outside the precinct of the Altis and after several extensions took its final form at the beginning of the fifth century BC.
The athletics stadium has a length of 212.54 meters and a width of 28.50 meters and could accommodate about 45.000 spectators. The athletes entered the stadium from the crypt, a hallway of 32m length covered with an arch.
The stadium of Olympia has hosted events of the ancient and the modern Olympics as in the Olympic Games of Athens in 2004, the Shot Put event was held here.

Gymnasium
The Gymnasium was the training site of all athletes of the road events as well as the pentathlon. It was a rectangular building that housed the athletes' accommodation. The building was closed so that the athletes practic would not be affected by any weather conditions. The discus and javelin athletes trained mainly in the open part of it.
The biggest part of the Gymnasium remains until this day unexplored.

Palaestra
The Palaestra was built in the 3rd century BC and was used for the training of athletes in the events of wrestling, boxing and jumping. The building of the Palaestra communicated with the Gymnasium.

Other buildings / facilities:
• Leonidaion
• Workshop of Pheidias
• Theokoleon
• Zanes
• Philippieion
• Echo hall (stoa)
• Metroon
• Southeast building
• Altar of Zeus
• Altar of Hera
• Pedestal of Nike of Paionios
• Prehistoric building
• Pelopio
• Nymphaeum
• South Stoa
• House of Nero
• Memorial
• Hostels
• Baths Kladeos
• Baths Cronios
• Treasures
• Hippodrome


Contact information

Ancient Olympia

27065 Olympia Ilia

Tel: (+30) 26240 22742

Fax: (+30) 26240 22529

 

Opening hours

01 April to 31 October

Monday - Sunday: 8:00 a.m. - 7.30 pm

 

01 November to 31 March

Monday: 10 am - 5 pm

Tuesday - Sunday: 8:00 a.m. - 3 pm

 

Tickets (valid for Archaeological Museum of Olympia & Olympia)

General Admission: 9 €

Reduced: 5 €



© myGreece.travel photo
© myGreece.travel photo
© myGreece.travel photo