Athens

Mini-bus
Semi Private Tours
Private Tours
Transfers

 

 

Copyright 2009-2017. All rights reserved

In western Peloponnese, in the beautiful valley of the Alpheios river, lies the most celebrated sanctuary of ancient Greece. Dedicated to Zeus, the father of the gods, it sprawls over the southwest foot of Mount Kronios, at the confluence of the Alpheios and the Kladeos rivers, in a lush, green landscape. Although secluded near the west coast of the Peloponnese, Olympia became the most important religious and athletic centre in Greece. Its fame rests upon the Olympic Games, the greatest national festival and a highly prestigious one world-wide, which was held every four years to honour Zeus. The origin of the cult and of the festival went back many centuries. Local myths concerning the famous Pelops, the first ruler of the region, and the river Alpheios, betray the close ties between the sanctuary and both the East and West

SITE MONUMENTS

  • TEMPLE OF ZEUS: It is the largest temple in the Peloponnese, considered by many to be the perfect example of Doric architecture. It was built by the Eleans from the spoils of the Triphylian war and dedicated to Zeus. Construction began c. 470 and was completed before 456 BC.
  • TEMPLE OF HERA: One of the oldest monumental temples in Greece. It stands in the north-west corner of the sacred precinct of the Altis, protected by a powerful terrace wall. It was dedicated to the Olympian sanctuary by the inhabitants of Skillous, an ancient city of Eleia.
  • BOULEUTERION (or Council House): one of the most ancient and important buildings of the sanctuary of Olympia. It was the seat both of the Elean Senate, whose members were responsible for the organisation of the games, and possibly of the hellanodikai, or umpires. This is where the athletes registered and drew lots, and where their names and the program of events were announced. It was also where any offences and pleas were tried, and where penalties were decided.
  • PRYTANEION: It was the administrative centre of the sanctuary's political life and of the Olympic Games. It was the seat of the magistrates, the high officials who oversaw the sacrifices performed monthly to honour the gods.
  • ANCIENT STADIUM: was where the ancient Olympic Games and the Heraia, the women's games in honour of Hera, were held.
  • ANCIENT GYMNASIUM: Here athletes practiced track and field and the pentathlon. The surviving structure dates to the 2nd c. BC.
  • PALAESTRA: Built in the 3rd c BC as part of the gymnasium complex, it was used to practice boxing, wrestling and jumping.
  • LEONIDAION: was a large and luxurious hostel for distinguished visitors to the Olympic Games. It was built in approximately 330 BC and was remodeled twice in Roman times.
  • WORKSHOP OF PHEIDIAS: was where the great sculptor crafted the gigantic chryselephantine statue of Zeus, listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. The building was erected in the 2nd half of the 5th c, when Pheidias, after completing the sculptures for the Athenian Acropolis, went to Olympia to work on the statue of Zeus. Excavation finds and pottery date it precisely to 430-420 BC.
  • THEOKOLEON: This was the seat of the theokoloi, the priests of Olympia, but also the residence of the sanctuary staff, which included soothsayers, interpreters, bearers of sacrificial animals, musicians and a woodmonger who provided the wood used in sacrifices.
  • ZANES: These were bronze statues of Zeus, none of which has survived, created from the fines imposed on athletes for cheating at the Olympic Games.
  • PHILIPPEION: the only circular building inside the Altis; one of the finest examples of ancient Greek architecture. It was dedicated to Zeus by Philip II of Macedon after his victory at Chaironeia in 338 BC, proving the important political role of the sanctuary at that time.
  • ECHO HALL
  • THE METROON: dedicated to the mother of the gods, Rhea, later re-named Cybele. This site was used for the worship of Mother Earth, to whom the sanctuary of Gaia was dedicated, and of Eileithyia, a similar deity connected to maternity, as early as the Prehistoric period. Built in the early fourth century BC, the Metroon was a small peripteral hexastyle Doric temple with eleven columns at the sides.
  • SOUTH EAST BUILDING: a shrine of the goddess Hestia, formed the south-east limit of the Altis enclosure together with the Echo-hall, which was built to its north in the 5th c BC.
  • ALTAR OF ZEUS: No trace of it has survived, but the large quantities of ash and bronze votives discovered inside the Pelopion may come from this altar. According to myth, Zeus himself indicated the building spot of his altar by striking the ground with a thunderbolt. The altar was destroyed under Theodosius I, who abolished the Olympic Games, and under his grandson, Theodosius II.
  • ALTAR OF HERA: This small oblong structure of poros, 5.80 metres long and 3.50 metres wide, was probably built like the temple in the 6th c BC to replace an earlier altar formed by the ashes of the sacrificed animals.
  • PEDESTAL OF THE NIKE OF PAIONIOS: Hundreds of statue bases, many of which are inscribed, are scattered throughout the Altis. Situated approximately thirty metres east of the temple of Zeus is a most important example of these, the massive pedestal of the Nike of Paionios, the remarkable Classical statue.
  • PREHISTORIC BUILDING: In the Prehistoric period, Kronos, Rhea, Gaia, Themis, Eileithyia, Hercules Idaios and other deities were venerated at the foot of the Kronios hill, at the very site occupied by the Altis in later times. Here excavations revealed a primitive sanctuary and possibly a settlement of the Early Helladic III period (2300-2000 BC); the site was continuously occupied until the Late Helladic III period (1600-1100 BC).
  • PELOPION: a funerary monument (cenotaph) dedicated to Pelops, a much venerated Elean hero.
  • NYMPHAEON: The spring, also known as the Exedra of Herodes Atticus, one of the most opulent and impressive constructions inside the Altis.
  • SOUTH HALL: was both the southern limit of the sanctuary of Olympia and its main entrance from the south. It was built at the same time as the Echo hall c. 360-350 BC, and remained in use for many centuries.
  • HOUSE OF NERO: was built in AD 65-67 for the emperor's visit to the Olympic Games of AD 67, in which he participated. The building was remodeled and enlarged several times until the 4th c. AD.
  • BATHS
  • HEROON: Built in the second half of the fifth century BC as the sweat room (ephidroterion) of the baths, it became a heroon, or monument to a hero, in the Hellenistic and Roman periods.
  • HOSTELS: The complex was built in approximately 170 BC to meet the demands of the swelling numbers of visitors to Olympia during the games.
  • LEONIDAION BATHS: This well-preserved monument is unique in Olympia in that it preserves its original height and roof. Built in the 3rd c. AD, it remained in use until the 6th c and was remodeled several times.
  • KLADEOS BATHS: They were built in the Roman period, approximately AD 100, in connection with the nearby Roman guesthouse to the south.
  • KRONIOS BATHS
  • OLYMPIA'S TREASURIES: They stand on a purpose-built terrace which extends from the Spring to the stadium, and date from the 7th to the mid-5th centuries BC.
  • HIPPODROME: housed the equestrian contests (horse racing and chariot-racing) of the Olympic Games and was therefore one of the most important monuments of the site.
  • ANCIENT OLYMPIA OLD MUSEUM

USEFUL INFORMATION

Telephone: +30 26240 22517
Fax: +30 26240 22529
Ticket: Full: €6, Reduced: €3,
Special Ticket Package: Full: €9, Reduced: €5, Valid for: Archaeological Museum of Olympia and Olympia
Open: 08.30-17.00, Sunday: 08.30-15.00
Holiday: 25 March.

BACK


 

Temple of Zeus

 

 

Gymnasium

 

 

Stadium

 

 

Stadium Entrance

 

 

Palaestra