Ancient Olympia - The Birthplace Of The Olympic Games

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From Athens we traveled to the Peloponnese and after visiting Apollo Epicuros and stopping at the Olympia village which is very close to the site we went to the UNESCO heritage site which is about the most important of all the Greek ruins –Olympia.

From Athens we traveled to the Peloponnese and after visiting Apollo Epicuros and stopping at the Olympia village which is very close to the site we went to the UNESCO heritage site which is about the most important of all the Greek ruins –Olympia.

From Athens we traveled to the Peloponnese and after visiting Apollo Epicuros and stopping at the Olympia village which is very close to the site we went to the UNESCO heritage site which is about the most important of all the Greek ruins –Olympia.

From Athens we traveled to the Peloponnese and after visiting Apollo Epicuros and stopping at the Olympia village which is very close to the site we went to the UNESCO heritage site which is about the most important of all the Greek ruins –Olympia.

TIP: Use the toilet in the village as there are no facilities up on the site.

There are quite a few other ruins around the actual stadium and if you go with a tour or a tour guide you will probably get more out of it. It is possible to visit by yourself though. You’re not allowed to stand on any of the pillars or pedestals but you can pose next to the starting line as if you’re about to run a race.

Perhaps this is one of the most popular Greek ruins because everyone has some concept of what the Olympic Games are. Originally they used to run in the nude though! They were allowed to wear “penis restraints”!

The games were first organized here in 776BC every five (yes not 4) years by Iphitos to honor Zeus. The site was used through the classical era, the Roman rule and into the Christian era. In 393AD the games were played here for the last time. In 426AD Emperor Theodosius II ruled that the site be destroyed (being Christian the site represented the old pagan ways). Since then a village grew up in the area. Time went by and the site of the Olympia was covered with falling rocks, mud and earth.  An earthquake destroyed most of what was left of the buildings in 551AD. It was only in 1829 that the French started excavating and in 1875 the Germans continued the excavation and has excavation is still under way as more and more relics are uncovered.

As you enter the site you have to cross a bridge over what once was the flowing Cladeus River. The Alpheus and Cladeus Rivers caused much damage to the site over the years but now it is mostly dry.

The huge statue of Zeus that once stood here was considered one of the wonders of the ancient world, it was made of gold and chryselephantine, unfortunately there isn’t a sign of it today! It is said that a baker won the first games which incorporated martial arts. In those days there were no gold medals rather the honor was enough and the winner also got an olive branch! After running, wrestling and boxing were the next sports added to the games. Also married women were not allowed to enter the site of the games (probably so they wouldn’t see all those naked athletes) if they did it was punishable by death.

 

What’s on the site:

Within the Altis which is the central focus of the site is the holy sanctuary of Zeus with a temple in his honor; a temple to Hera, called the Heraion (wife of Zeus);  a temple to Cypele; a line of treasuries each from a different Greek city; the fountain of Nymphaion and the alter to Zeus. Then there are other facilities for lesser mortals like the athlete’s quarters, baths, statues of Gods and homes. The thing most people want to see in the stadium which is east of the Altis and this is where the games were held. There used to be a hippodrome but the overflowing river Alpheios destroyed it. There is also the home of the Emperor Nero who built himself a place to stay when he came to see the games. Don’t miss the statue of Hermes among the various statues of gods.

Location: At the foot of Mount Kronios, Peloponnese, Greece.

Entrance: 6 Euro, and 3 Euro for EU pensioners and all students. EU students and under 19 years old get in free! For a joint ticket to the site and the Archeological Museum 9 Euros (5 Euros for those eligible for a discount).

Getting there: Take a  KTEL bus from the Kyllini port.

About Me: I’ve lived in South Africa, England and Israel and I’m passionate about travel. Among the 26 countries I’ve visited I most loved Iceland, Czech Republic, Finland, Egypt and the USA. I write online content, paint murals and travel when ever possible.

Blog
http://unique-travel-experiences.blogspot.com

What were the WOW moments you experienced?
This site was threatened by the fires that raged all over Greece. Luckily, it narrowly escaped the flames.
Greece, Olympia, Ancient Olympic Games

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