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General info about Olympia in Greece

Olympia Travel - Tours & Holidays in Olympia - Information on Olympia Greece

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Olympia - Temple of Zeus

Olympia is the birthplace of the modern Olympic Games and consequently one of the most important archaeological and historical sites in Greece. In the prefecture of Elia, in the western Peloponnese, the town of Olympia sees thousands of tourists wanting to see the sacred site that founded the modern Olympics Games.

The town of Olympia is predominantly a tourist site, catering for the visitors to Ancient Olympia. There are a multitude of restaurants and tourist shops where travellers can rest before going to the ancient site on the outskirts of the town.

Ancient Olympia is where all of the modern Olympic Games began. Months before the opening ceremony, a ritual takes place at Ancient Olympia, lighting the flame that is then carried by runners to the host city. The spirit of the ancient Olympics drives on the modern athletes.

The modern Games model themselves on the ancient games. Held once ever four years from 776 BC, the ancient games were at the time of the August full moon, open to all adult males in honour of the god Zeus. The festival also served as a cultural event, allowing poets, artists and historians to display their work to people they were normally at war with. The Games reached their peak in 576 BC, before gradually declining in popularity, until Theodosius I banned the games and Theodosius II had the temples of Olympia destroyed in the fifth century AD.

Although little remains of the ancient site, a result of the destruction inflicted by Theodosios and a consequence of numerous earthquakes over the centuries, the site is still fascinating. The Temple of Zeus, where once a 12 metre high statue of the god once stood is in ruin, as is the stadium that once could seat 30,000 people. The Temple of Hera, Olympia’s most intact structure, the Hippodrome and the Philippeon are only a small part of the ancient site.

Olympia is a place where the modern tourist can go to wonder at the enormity of the legacy of this absorbing place.

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