Ancient Olympia

The spirit of Olympic Games

Myth

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THE BOULEUTERION

Built outside the sacred enclosure, the Council House is one of the oldest buildings at the site, having taken almost two centuries to complete (6th century BC 4th century BC).

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THEOKOLEON

Much more than just a site where the Olympic Games took place, Olympia was an important sanctuary where worship was practiced throughout the Olympic cycle.

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THE TREASURIES

Built at the foot of Kronios hill from the seventh to the mid-fifth century BC, these small, temple-shaped structures housed the most valuable offerings dedicated to Zeus by cities all over the Greek World.

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THE ROMAN BATHS (THERMAE) AT OLYMPIA

The site at Olympia was one of paramount importance both in the Greek and in the Roman World.

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THE TEMPLE OF ZEUS AT OLYMPIA

The most markedly monumental building not only in the entire site but in the whole region of the Peloponnese, the Temple of Zeus stood at the centre of the sacred enclosure and is considered to set the golden rule for Doric temples.

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THE TEMPLE OF HERA AT OLYMPIA

The Temple of Hera was associated with both the Olympic Games and the Heraean Games, a separate festival for female athletes, probably organised during the Olympic year, though before the Olympics.

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THE STADIUM AT OLYMPIA

The Stadium is the structure which best reflects the evolution stages of the Games, with its location and capacity varying as the event grew popular and changed in status and character from religious to secular.

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THE KRYPTE STOA

The monumental, formal entrance to the Stadium of Olympia owes its name to an arch built above it in the Hellenistic Era (krypte = covered, hidden).

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THE ZANES

To enter the Stadium through the formal entrance, known as the ‘Krypte Stoa’, athletes had to pass by the Zanes, sixteen bronze statues of Zeus, whose commission was funded by the fines imposed on athletes for foul play during the Olympic Games.

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THE ECHO STOA

Also known as the Poikile (=painted) Stoa, the Echo Stoa is not to be confused with the monument of the same name in the Athenian agora.

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THE PELOPEION

To understand the significance of this monument, it is essential to bear in mind the importance of hero cults in Greece, as well as the mythological background on the hero Pelops, which forms the core of the founding myth of the Olympic Games and connects the event with the land of Pelops, the Peloponnese.

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THE PALAESTRA

The Palaestra was the minor component of the Gymnasium complex built west of the Altis, by the Kladeos river.

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THE NYMPHAEON

Herodes Atticus was a wealthy Greek aristocrat of the 2nd century AD, who received classical education as a sophist and managed to reach the highest ranks of consul and senator in the Roman Republic.

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THE METROON

Divine mothers are venerated in many religions, and the titaness Rhea, mother (Anc. Greek meter>metroon) of the Olympian Gods, was not an exception in Ancient Greek religion.

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THE GREEK BATHS AT OLYMPIA

The first baths ever built at the site of Olympia were a small complex west of the sanctuary, close to the River Kladeos.

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THE LEONIDAEON GUESTHOUSE

Built around 330 BC just outside the sacred enclosure of the Altis, this luxurious building was reserved for the wealthy and distinguished guests who stayed in the sanctuary during the Olympic Games.

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THE HEROON

The cult of heroes was an important part of Greco-Roman religious practice and worship.

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THE GYMNASIUM AT ANCIENT OLYMPIA

 

The flat strip of land located at the northwest of the sanctuary of Olympia, adjacent to the bank of the river Kladeos, was the ideal space to accommodate the compound of the Gymnasium and the Palaestra.

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THE PHILIPPEION

As we have seen elsewhere in the course of our tour around Greek archaeological sites, sanctuaries were places of paramount importance not only in terms of religion and worship, but also as places to exhibit wealth, power, and political prowess.

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PHEIDIAS' WORKSHOP

Arguably the greatest sculptor of Classical Antiquity, Pheidias created numerous masterpieces from 460 to 430 BC, including the two chryselephantine statues of Athena and Zeus in Athens and Olympia, respectively, with the latter being one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. 

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Arts & Crafts

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THE CEREMONIAL LIGHTING OF THE OLYMPIC FLAME

In Ancient Greece, fire had a highly symbolic character, as something stolen from the gods by Prometheus, who suffered bitterly for his theft by the hand of Zeus.

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THE TRADITIONAL ARCHITECTURE OF KALLITHEA (ALIFEIRA) AND FIGALEIA

Close to Andritsaina, two more traditionally built settlements may catch the visitor's eye.

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THE MUSEUM NEIGHBOURHOOD OF KATAKOLO

The Museum of Ancient Greek Technology and the Museum of Ancient Greek Musical Instruments and Toys & Games are just 50 metres apart – visit them both and broaden your horizons about Ancient Greece.

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LECHAINA

Located at equal distances from the cities of Patras and Pyrgos, Lechaina is a typical regional town in the Peloponnese.

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Experience

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THE LIGHTHOUSE OF KATAKOLO

The neighbourhood is rather interesting: the 9-metre stone tower of the lighthouse was built on Mount Katakolo in 1865.

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PONTIKOKASTRO

Originally called Beauvoir (French) or Belvedere (Italian), the castle was built by the Franks in the 13th century, on the acropolis of the ancient city of Pheia.

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ZACHARO

A Forest Between the Sea and the Low Hills

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KOTYCHI AND STROFYLIA

The Mysterious Charm of the Wetlands

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THE RIVERS OF ALFEIOS AND NEDA

The area of Figaleia is one of great natural beauty; it is the point where the regions of Arcadia, Messene and Ileia come together to form the deep gorge between Mounts Minthi and Tetrazio.

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KAIAFAS LAGOON AND BEACH

Kaiafas Lagoon is only separated from the sea by a narrow strand, and surrounded by a forest of fragrant pines.

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PHOLOE - KAPELI

The oak forest of Pholoe, the only flat forest in Greece, stretching over 218,000 square kilometres, was named after Pholos, the leader of the Centaurs, slain by accident by Herakles on his way to capture the Boar of Erymanthus.

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ANDRITSAINA

The Beauty of Small

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KATAKOLO

More than a Pretty Façade

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PYRGOS

The namesake tower of the town (pyrgos is Greek for 'tower'), which once decorated one of its seven hills, stands no more; built by wealthy landowner Tsernotas in the 16th century, during the Ottoman rule, it was demolished following the Greek War of Independence, as the inhabitants did not want to be reminded of their years in servitude.

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GASTOUNI

Probably named after the Frankish nobleman Gaston, Gastouni is a rather typical example of village-turned-industrial-town. It is situated 28 kilometres north of Pyrgos, the capital of the prefecture of Ilia, and is perhaps the least touristy option for visitors.

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ANDRAVIDA

This small agricultural town, now neatly spread on the fertile plain, was once capital of the Principality of Achaea the regional administration, as it were, of the Western Peloponnese under Frankish rule after the Fourth Crusade in 1204.

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KYLLINI

To most, Kyllini is simply known as the best option to access the Ionian Islands, as it is the westernmost cape of the Peloponnese, and closer to Zakynthos and Kefalonia than any other port in the mainland.

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THE ARCHAELOGICAL MUSEUM AT OLYMPIA

The Museum is, of course, one of the most important in Greece, as it houses findings from the sacred enclosure of Olympia dating from Prehistory to Early Christianity, thus showcasing several centuries of Greek religion, art, and everyday life.

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Gastronomy

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SIMPLE GOURMET AND A UNIQUE APERITIF TRADITION

Settling for one beach and one favourite seaside restaurant is utterly pointless – what the infinite coast is all about is the art of endless strolls and rides, with plenty of stops to enjoy all this rich land has to offer.

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TRADITIONAL PELOPONNESIAN CUISINE

Pork may be popular all over the country, but the inhabitants of the Peloponnese are especially fond of it.

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AMALIADA

Amaliada is a cute modern town, with pleasant urban planning (not to be taken for granted in regional Greece), interesting neoclassical buildings and a buzzing market. 

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Myth

Ancient Olympia Virtual Tour

Experience

Ancient Olympia Virtual Tour

EXPLORE OUR DESTINATIONS

Athens

Athens, a modern metropolis, a european capital, a nest for all the Mediterranean cultures. Athens, the meeting point of East and West, the harbor of everyone, who still loves passionately life! There are so many different ways to describe and analyse Athens, that any given effort to do a short depiction of the city is nothing but a try doomed to fail. Nevertheless, we will try to underline some of the main characteristics of the city of Athens. Visit Virtual Tour

Sinarades-Corfu

Known from the Homeric myth, as the mythical island of Phaeacians where the shipwrecked Odysseus was soothed by princess Nausika, Corfu continues to welcome visitors from all around the world. Be a synchronous Odysseus and follow the new destination of YouGoCulture initiative. Having the Central Corfu and its old town which is in the list of the Unesco World Heritage Sites, a journey begins in the history, the traditions and the unique beauties of the island. Visit Virtual Tour

Eleusina

A breath away from Athens, the birth place of Eleusinian Mysteries and goddess Demeter challenges you to explore it! Eleusis or Eleusina, as now known, one of the five sacred cities of antiquity enjoys the privilege of being located only thirty kilometers from the historic Athens. But let me refresh it! It could be the privilege of Athens to have so nearby a city full of life and history! Visit Virtual Tour

Epidavros

Even today’s visitors feel that they are in a sacred place as soon as they set foot in the Asklepieion of Epidavros. The place where healing was a religious mystery. The sick were cured by the god Asklepios in their sleep (enkoimesis) or received from him instructions on the therapy they should follow. From the sixth century BC until the end of antiquity, hosts of people resorted to the Sanctuary of Asklepios in expectation that their prayers for healing would be heard and answered by the god. These were patients and pilgrims who arrived there bringing precious votive offerings from all parts of the then-known world. Visit Virtual Tour

Messene

Travelling in the Messenian land from Mount Taygetus to the coast, our glance dives, following the sunlight dipping onto the Messenian plain. From the mountainous volumes to the fertile valley, the olive groves and herbs, we see a landscape of culture, myth, and history, unfold before our eyes. In the heart of the region of Messenia, one town stands out: Ancient Messene. This "blissful plain" as Homer calls it, became a theatre of war and mythical narrations offering a viewpoint on the past and the present. Visit Virtual Tour

Mycenae

Peering over the plain of Argolis, up there from the heights of the acropolis, one comes to terms with the superiority of the Mycenaean civilization. It reached its heyday in the Late Bronze Age (1350 - 1200 BCE) and then disappeared, leaving to eternity its legendary acropolis, built on an inaccessible, rocky hill between two ravines. The footprints of the Atreidai, the mythical royal dynasty, are visible to today's visitor and inspire awe in an era like ours, in which myth meets the history of the most important period of the ancient world. Visit Virtual Tour

Ancient Olympia

What can be said of Olympia and not sound like a cliché? The significance of the archaeological site is self-evident, even if one is not familiar with the fascinating historical details and the political background, which literally span thousands of years. Known to the world as the cradle of the Olympic ideal, this open-air museum of imposing ruins and unique artefacts tells a story of religious piety, fair play, political ambition, and demonstration of power. All the buildings you can still admire were erected to please the gods and send a message to the thousands of visitors who swarmed to the sacred grounds. Walking around the Stadium, the Gymnasium and the Temples of Zeus and Hera – both instrumental in the ritual and competitive part of the Games – modern visitors will be able to understand why the event remained relevant even when the rest of the Ancient World was long dead. As an added bonus to the splendour of the site, the Museum of Olympia boasts some of the most famous works of art produced in the long course of Hellenic culture. Visit Virtual Tour
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