History, archaeology and picture tour of ancient Olympia in Greece

Home

Greece by Region:
Athens
Central Greece
Greek Islands
Northern Greece
Southern Greece

Resources:
Documantary Reviews
Fodors Greece
Fodors Exploring the Greek Islands

Links of Interest
Link Additions

Advertise on this site:
Advertising Info


Ancient Olympia Pictures
Brief history of the archaeological site and selected pictures, photos of Olympia where the Olympics all began.
The games at Olympia began sometime around the 11th century BC as a local and religious festival and event. Unlike today's games which have become very commercial in nature and highly extravagant. Over the next two hundred years it would be attended by the states from the rest of the Greek world. The tradition was that all participating states would cease fighting, lay down their arms during the period of the games. In today's Olympic Games countries that are at war can still participate although boycotts by counties in the past with regards to political differences have occurred.  

The events at the games were athletic. The earliest being a 200 meter race. Later the Pentathlon, Pancratium and chariot races were added. At first only free-born Greek males were allowed to participate and the victor would receive an honorary award. A palm at the end of the contest and an olive branch at the end of the games. By the 4th century BC when the games were at their peak, the athletes were almost all professionals and heavily sponsored and rewarded for their victories. In 393 AD Emperor Theodosius suspended the games and the temples and buildings were eventually destroyed soon after by future emperors, invaders and earthquakes.

The ruins at Olympia are extensive with numerous temples, buildings and an excellent museum nearby. Although the condition of the site is fairly poor, the building outlines and the scattered ruins show the various periods of use of this site and the influence and contributions that the Greek city states, colonies and the Romans all had on Olympia. When visiting this site, you really need an outline as a reference or a tour guide to understand this site. 

I won't discuss all the buildings on this site as there are too many, but there are two temples worth looking at closely. The Doric Temple of Zeus built between 470-456 BC was massive. When you walk by the columns you can only imagine how big it really was. The smaller Temple of Hera rebuilt in the 6th century is the best preserved temple on the site.

The museum near the site is worth visiting because it contains some finest Classical Greek sculptures including Hermes of Praxiteles. From the Temple of Zeus the frieze of the Twelve Labors of Hercules and on the west pediment my favorite, the Battle of Lapiths and Centaurs. Looking at the size of the individuals in this scene of sculptures, you can only imagine how huge, impressive the Temple of Zeus was and the powerful image of Zeus that it portrayed.

The Philippeion - begun by Philip II to celebrate his victory at Chaeronea and probably competed by Alexander the Great.

Palaestra
wrestling school building.
Greek sculptor's Phedias studio Phedias workshop
and later church

Nero's house
Emperor Nero's Palace at Olympia
Temple of Zeus
Enormous columns of a once grand temple.
Remnants of Temple of Zeus - from the back

more from Olympia
Temple of Zeus - constructed between 470-456 BC

Anciant Olympic Stadium
Olympic stadium where Olympics started
Temple of Hera Temple of Hera -  6th century BC


Hermes of Praxiteles statue
Temple Of Hera in background
Battle of Centaurs, Olympia Museum Battle of the Centaurs at wedding of Perithoos - Temple of Zeus 470-456 BC, west pediment.

You have to see these sculptures in person to really appreciate the incredible skill required and knowlegde involved to scupt these forms.

Close-up of sculptures

My short video on Greece and the Greek Islands

Custom Search
Greece Picture Tour











Links to further
Reading and Information on Greece:
Archaeology Magazine







copyright greecepicturetour.com