A few years ago, we decided not to travel abroad as usual but organize a trip around Greece. We chose to take a tour of the Peloponnese to rediscover the beauties of this region of Greece, since the last time we visited it was many years ago, when our daughters were still young. So, now just the two of us, me and Christos, started our holidays with our motorhome and we drove all the way from Thessaloniki to the Peloponnese through Rio-Antirio Bridge. The itinerary included, of course, the the archeological site of Ancient Olympia and its museum!
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We started our tour by walking on the archaelogical path of ancient Olympia and it was like taking a trip back into the past where the Olympic Games were held. 2500 years ago, when thousands of people from all over Greece gathered in the area to honor Zeus and to watch the sports games held in his honor.
Temple of Zeus
Around 455 BC, ancient Greeks built the largest temple of God Zeus in the center of ancient Olympia, Peloponnese. In the center of the temple there was the ivory statue of Zeus, which was the work of the sculptor Pheidias. Unfortunately today nothing has been saved. Pheidias was also the artist of the sculptural decoration of the Parthenon of the Acropolis of Athens, and of course the ivory statue of the goddess Athena, which wasn’t saved too. However, in the Museum of Olympia, you can find and see some other sculptures of the same artist.
Stadium at Olympia
At the same time, other temples and altars started to be built around the temple of the Olympian god Zeus. There were also buildings where the precious votive offerings were kept, high schools, arcades, stadiums and a hippodrome. The stadium had a capacity of 45,000 people and had no stands, as spectators sat on the sloping ground. An entire city was ready to welcome athletes from all over Greece and reward them for their victory by putting a laurel wreath on their heads, but also giving them glory and honor that would accompany them and their family throughout their whole life.
The Olympic Games are now held every four years and because of technology they travel to every corner of the globe and move billions of people. But where and how did they start? Legend has it that when the Peloponnesse defeated the king of Ilia, Oinomao, in chariot races, he became the King of the region and married his daughter Hippodameia. He then named the whole country Peloponnese and established the Olympic Games in honor of Olympian Zeus who helped him win. They started in 776 BC and officially stopped in 393 AD. by command of the Byzantine emperor Theodosius AD. Throughout history, the Olympic Games have been the top sporting event. Wars stopped by a holy and inviolable truce, while thousands of spectators came to Olympia to watch the games. For an Olympian it was the highest distinction a Greek could ever dream of and the glory accompanied not only the athlete but also his family and city.
Skip the line tickets, tours and more
Before your visit, you can find and buy audio tours (in English) but also virtual tours (virtual reality) by clicking on the links below.
Book a virtual reality tour to ancient OLYMPIA (family friendly)
Book an audio tour on your phone to ancient olympia
Don’t forget: You enter the Archaelogical Museum and the Museum of the Olympic Games with the same ticket you book to enter the archaelogical site of Olympia.
Museum of Ancient Olympia
The Museum of Olympia is one of the best museums in Greece. The most important exhibit, which captivates every single visitor, is the statue of Hermes of Praxiteles. It is a wonderful sculpture! A divine statue with perfect proportions which was made by the hands of one of the greatests artists of antiquity, Pheidias. As it is the only exhibit in its hall, it gave us the opportunity to admire it from all sides. The glossy marble magnetized us as much as the different facial expressions of the statue depending on which side we looked at it. Hermes of Praxiteles is one of the most perfect statues in the world that left us speechless!
I could talk for hours about this wonderful place in Ancient Olympia. I will be very happy to know if you have visited the archeological site of Ancient Olympia and the museum and if you liked it as much as we did!
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