The Archaeological Site of Olympia holds several masterpieces from the Ancient Greek world and was the site of the original Olympic Games. Already in the 10th century BC, Olympia became a center of worship to Zeus. It flourished until AD 426, the year in which the emperor Theodosius II closed all the ancient sanctuaries.
Olympia now is mainly remembered for the games that were held here every 4 years. They existed even in prehistoric times, but got their pan-hellenic character in 776 BC. Victors won a crown with a branch of the olive tree that stood near the temple of Zeus.
Visit December 2001
This archeological site is still quite intact. Well, the outlines at least are (not the buildings). At the center the Zeus temple. Around it the residence of priests, the training rooms facilities for the athletes, the guesthouses.
Via a passageway, called the Crypt, you reach the stadium. The place where the athletic games were held measured 212 x 28 meter. There were no seats, but the embankment could hold 45.000 spectators.
In the nearby museum you can see a model of how Olympia looked like at its heydays. An amazing, bustling site it must have been: think of the athletes practising, but also the numerous spectators and officials that were around. Not unlike an Olympic Village nowadays, but on such small grounds.
|Caspar Dechmann (Switzerland):|
We arrived by boat in Katalokon and since we missed a bus we rented a car at the port and drove quite easily to Olympia in about half an hour. Arriving there around one thirty we were amazed to learn that the museum closed at 3pm and the archaeologic site at 4! This left us very little, too little time in the museum. It displays first class art works, among them the famous Hermes statue by Praxiteles and impressive groups of statues that one crowned the tympanon of the temple of Zeus. But I was most taken by the incredibly refined metal works, among them many Griffins. The museum has also many good notes about the history of the place and in three languages! This is something I have missed in many WCTs! All in all it would be worth to spend a couple of hours in the museum.
The archaeologic site was also surprisingly impressive: Despite the fact that there are only ruins, the vastness of the place and its architectonical arrangement can be felt very excellently as you walk through it. Very touching to see the base of the great temple of Zeus which was home to the statue of Phidias, one of the seven wonders! Very nice also the pavilion-like Phillipeum, das Alexander the Great built for his father. This is probably the incarnation of the romanticism for ruins in the 19th century. During our visit the abundance of blossoming trees (some of them historically clearly incorrect since the grew in the middle of a house) contributed strongly to charm of the site.
| Date posted: May 2012|
|George Mitakidis (HELLAS (GR)):|
The best experience of this site was on August 2004 during the Athens Olympic Games.
The connection between the modern and the ancient games.
I woud love to see the famous statue of Hermes to the page.
Is oviously one of the main reasons to visit Archea Olympia.
| Date posted: September 2010|
|Klaus Freisinger (Austria):|
There is probably no ancient archaeological site anywhere in the world that has more relevance on today´s world than Olympia. The history of the Olympic Games reaches back to the 8th century BC and continues today (OK, not without interruption...), so to visit Olympia should be interesting to everybody. Granted, at first the sight of ancient Olympia is a bit of a letdown, because there is really not a single structure still standing, mostly due to a number of earthquakes that covered the site under metres of mud. But then, seeing places like the site where the Olympic flame is lit every two years for the Games, and especially the original stadium (and being able to actually run there), is really quite amazing. You need a little imagination, but it´s pretty easy to feel like an athlete of ancient times vying for an olive wreath there...
Definitely a must-see for anybody even slightly interested in Antiquity.
| Date posted: July 2006|
|Christer Sundberg (Sweden):|
Continuing my Greek journey from Athens and Delphi, I hopped on the narrow-gauge train in Corinth reaching the end station of Olympia a couple of hours later. Finding my way between the few spots of shadow, hiding from an almost torturing sun, shining over the modern village of Olympia I soon found my way to my hotel. I must say that I quickly got to like this little village that was now resting in the afternoon heat. Good food and a relaxing atmosphere is paired with unfortunately too many souvenir shops catering to the busy day-visitors from Athens that comes at lunch and leaves a couple of hours later. But Olympia definitely deserves a better destiny. Why not stay here for a night and enjoy. Then you will also get another upside – to visit the ancient Olympia in the early morning when the tourists have not yet arrived. Wondering around the overthrown columns all alone, pass the bath houses and the wrestling schools through to the stadium quickly takes you to another world. And don’t forget the excellent museum, conveniently located nearby, provides you with an insight in the life of sports during the 700 years Olympia functioned as an annual meeting point.
| Date posted: February 2006|
|Paul Tanner (UK):|
The ruins of Olympia contain their fair share of Temples etc but THE place to go to is the Stadium where the ancient Games were held (photo). There you can still see the start and finish lines, 1 “Stadion” apart” – the latter is closest in the photo. On the right, half way down, was the judges’ enclosure. The location at each end, of the “cippi”, columns for running round in multi-“lap” races, can also be seen. Another point of interest, just before what was a covered passage leading into the stadium (entrance at bottom left of photo), are the pedestals where the statues of Zeus, paid for by the fines of those caught cheating, were placed! The Games were still held through to the Roman era (In fact, they continued into Byzantine times until 394CE) and Nero, an avid charioteer, went to Olympia to take part in the 211th Olympiad in 67CE. He was, perhaps wisely, allowed to win despite falling off! The race course, originally to the right of the Stadium, was destroyed in floods from the nearby river Alpheios and there is nothing to see (To see a reasonably complete Hippodrome go to Tyre instead – see my review).
| Date posted: January 2006|
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