Designed by Conquent

Olympia Greece

The site of Olympia, in a Peloponnese valley, has been inhabited since the 3rd millennium B.C.. In the 10th century B.C., Olympia became a center of worship to Zeus, after whose abode on Mount Olympus the site was named. The sanctuary spreads around the green wooded feet of the Kronion Hill at the confluence of the Alfeiós and Kládeos rivers. The valley amongst the two rivers was in ancient times full of wild olive trees, poplars, oaks, pines and plane trees and it was these trees that gave the center of the sanctuary the name Altis, the sacred grove (from alsos, meaning grove). The temples and religious buildings were located inside the Altis, the sanctuary to the gods. The sports structures designed for the events of the Olympic Games honoring Zeus as well as dwellings for the priests, baths, guest houses, etc. were outside of the Altis.

Although the first Olympiad is thought to have been in 776 B.C., bronze votive figures of the Geometric period (10th - 8th centuries B.C.) reveal that the sanctuary was in use before that date. The festival took place every four years over a five day period in the late summer during a sacred truce observed by all Greek cities. Victors in the games were crowned with a branch of the "beautiful crowned wild olive tree" that stood near the temple of Zeus. This crown bestowed the greatest honor on the athlete, his family and his native city. The sanctuary flourished until 426 A.D., the year in which Emperor Theodosius II closed all of the ancient pagan sanctuaries.

The Palaestra

The Palaestra is located to the west of the Altis, near the Kládeos river. It is south of the Gymnasium and adjoining it.

Temple of Zeus

The Temple of Zeus was erected on the southern part of the Altis, on a free section of land. The largest temple in the Peloponnese, it was considered the perfect expression, or "canon" of the Doric temple. Today, only column bases and tumbled sections remain.

The Crypt

The Crypt, a vaulted passageway linking the stadium with the Altis, was built at the end of the 3rd century B.C.

The Stadium

On the right side of the stadium in this photo there is a stone platform for the Hellanodikes (the judges) and on the left embankment is an altar to Demeter Chamyne. The starting and finishing lines are still in place, 600 Olympic feet apart. The stadium had no seats, apart from the stone exedra of the Hellanodikai. The embankment could easily seat 45,000 spectators.

House of Nero

The House of Nero, a 1st century villa off the southeastern corner of the Altis, was hurriedly built for his visit.

Alter of Hercules

The Alter of Hercules in the foreground and the Nymphaeum and Heraion in the background.

Temple of Hera

The Temple of Hera, also known as The Heraion, stands at the foot of Kronion. The Doric temple was begun in the 7th century B.C.

The Heraion

The Heraion (also known as the Temple of Hera above), is a long and narrow and has heavy proportions, it is one of the earliest examples of monumental temple construction in Greece. The columns of the Heraion were originally made of wood. Each column was replaced by a stone one, over a period of some centuries, in the style of the current period resulting in columns that reflect the complete development of the Doric column, and especially the capital, from the Archaic period to Roman times.

Pheidias Workshop

Pheidias' workshop where the statue of Zeus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, was sculpted.

View of Olympia

Roman Scripture

From the 3rd Century B.C.

Columns of Heraion

The Columns of the Heraion were originally made of wood. Each column was replaced by a stone one, over a period of some centuries, in the style of the current period resulting in columns that reflect the complete development of the Doric column, and especially the capital, from the Archaic period to Roman times.