Tag Archive : Olympia

The archaeological site of Olympia ranks among the most important historic sites of Greece. Here, the ancient Olympic Games begun. The site incorporates all remains of the athletic premises used for the preparation and celebration of the Olympic Games, administrative and other buildings and monuments. With the summer Olympics, the winter Olympics, the youth Olympics, etc. almost every year the ceremony of the lighting of the Olympic flame takes place.

MONUMENTS and highlights
Temple of Zeus, Temple of Ηera, Voulefterion, Ancient Olympic stadium, Ancient gymnasium, Palaestra, Leonidaion hostel, Workshop of Pheidias, Theokoleon, Zanes (penalties to cheaters), Philippeion, thye 7 Echo Hall, The Metroon, Altar of Zeus, Altar of Hera, Prehistoric building, Pelopion, Nymphaeon, the villa of Nero, Baths, Heroon, Hostels, Leonidaion baths, Kladeos baths, Kronion baths, Olympia’s Treasuries, the Hippodrome.

PHOTOS

EXCAVATIONS
Since 1875, the excavation and preservation of Ancient Olympia has been the responsibility of the German Archaeological Institute of Athens. The first major excavation of Olympia began in 1875, funded by the German government after negotiation of exclusive access by Ernst Curtius. Other archaeologists involved for the dig were Gustav Hirschfeld, George Treu, Adolf Furtwängler, A. Boetticher, Wilhelm Dörpfeld, and Richard Borrmann. They excavated the central part of the sanctuary including the Temple of Zeus, Temple of Hera, Metroon, Voulefterion, Philipeion, the 7-echo Stoa, Treasuries and the Palaestra. Important finds included sculptures from the Temple of Zeus, the Nike of Paeonius, the Hermes of Praxiteles and many bronze statuettes. In total 14,000 objects were recorded. A large collection of the finds are displayed in the museum on the site.

1900–1950
Excavation was continued by Dörpfeld between 1908 and 1929 but a new systematic excavation started in 1936 on the occasion of the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin under Emil Kunze and Hans Schleif. Their excavation focus was on the area to the south of the stadium, the South Stoa, the Bath Complex and the Gymnasion.

1950 to present
Between 1952 and 1966, Kunze and Schleil continued the excavation joined by architect Alfred Mallwitz. They excavated Pheidias’ workshop, the Leonidaion and the north wall of the stadium. They also excavated the southeast section of the sanctuary and out of approximately 140 debris pits found many bronze and ceramic objects along with terracotta roof tiles.

Mallwitz took charge of the excavations between 1972 and 1984 revealing important dating evidence for the stadium, graves, and the location of the Prytaneion. From 1984 to 2000, Helmut Kyrieleis took over the site and the focus shifted to the earlier history of the sanctuary with excavation of the Prytaneion and Pelopion.

Archaeological Museum of Olympia – Overview

Olympia Archaeological Museum of Olympia


One of the top 3 museums in Greece. A collection of marble sculptures that are very well preserved. The highlight of the museum are the East and West pediments from The Temple of Zeus together with the beautiful “Hermes of Praxiteles” sculpture. A collection of ancient artifacts, tools, glass, armor, weapons and other items. Expect to spend at least an hour in the museum.

The three museums of Olympia, 1) the Archaeological Museum, 2) the Museum of the Ancient Olympic Games and 3) the Museum of the History of the Excavations at Olympia, are within minutes walk from the modern Olympia town and the archaeological site.

The Archaeological Museum was founded in the 19th c. to house the finds that the excavations brought to light. As a growing wealth of artifacts kept accumulating, even after a century-long archaeological research, it became apparent that the elegant 19th-century building would not suffice. A new museum was built 1966-1975 and underwent a reorganization in 2004, in view of the Athens 2204 Olympic Games.

The museum’s collections are exhibited in 12 halls and over 3,500 years of history, from the 3rd millennium BC when humans first settled at Olympia to the end of Zeus’ sanctuary in the 7th c. AD. The Archaeological Museum of Olympia ranks among the most important museums in Greece. renowned for its sculptures and collection of ancient Greek bronzes, which is the richest in the world.

The two pediments from the Temple of Zeus are among the most magnificent examples of ancient Greek sculpture, and indeed from the period of its zenith. The east pediment shows the preparation for the mythical chariot race between Pelops and King Oinomaos, while the west shows the beloved subject of the struggle between the Centaurs and Lapiths, with the superb figure of Apollo at the centre.

The metopes of the temple represent the Twelve Labours of Heracles, the offering of the Stymphalian birds to Athena, Atlas bearing the apples of the Hesperides to Heracles, and so on. Paionios’ statue of Nike descending from heaven, an ex-voto of the Messenians and Naupactians in 421 BC, is one of the most significant sculptures of Classical times.

Other outstanding exhibits in the Museum are the terracotta group of Zeus with Ganymede, the colossal head attributed to the cult statue of Hera and the “diamond of Olympia”, the famous statue of Hermes with the newborn Dionysus, an original work by Praxiteles, displayed in a hall to itself.

Among the dedications to Zeus by the city-states in gratitude for their victories are bronze tripod cauldrons, vessels, armors, helmets and shields.

Collections

The collection of bronzes

More than 14,000 bronze artifacts, the largest number ever found in a region of the ancient Greek world were buried in the soil of Olympia. Human and animal figurines constitute a popular category of those metal works, dating back as early as in the 9th century BC. They often depict warriors, charioteers and, of course, athletes such as the mid-6th century BC statuette of a discus thrower or the early-5th century statuette of a runner.
An impressive group of the museum exhibits comprise the large bronze cauldrons, often decorated with griffins or sirens, imaginary and daemonic beings inspired by the Orient. Those were luxury offerings to the sanctuary manifesting the prosperity and artistic level that Archaic Greece had reached by the 7th and 6th centuries BC.
Apart from pilgrims and Olympic winners, warriors returning victorious from battlefields expressed their gratitude to Zeus by donating their weapons. Thus, Olympia turned out to be a repository of ancient Greek weaponry with a long series of helmets, shields, cuirasses, spears and other parts of armour recovered from the site and now on display in the museum. Of immense historical siginificance is the helmet of the Athenian General Miltiades, the winner of the battle of Marathon against the Persians (490 BC). A unique example of ancient war instrument is a battering ram of the 5th century BC.

The collection of sculptures

The Museum of Olympia houses masterpieces of classical art such as the sculptures of Zeus’ temple and two celebrated works of Graeco-Roman antiquity, the statues of Nike by Paeonios and Hermes by Praxiteles.
The temple of Zeus dominated the sanctuary not only due to its size but also due to its magnificently decorated pediments and metopes. The centauromachy scene with the emblematic figure of Apollo and the Labours of Hercules are considered the finest sculptures of the so-called Austere Style of the 5th century BC.
No later than 420 BC, Paeonios created his winged goddess Nike, the statue that became synonymous with the iconographic allegory of Victory and has shaped its representations in western art ever since: the statue of Nike is the one featured on the Olympic medals from 1896 to date.

Around 330 BC, the great master Praxiteles sculpted Hermes carrying the infant god Dionysus. This is one of the few superb original statues of the 4th century that survived, as the most celebrated works of this period are known to us solely through their Roman copies.
The statue of Hermes is one of the most magnificent art pieces of the ancient world. It is a symbol of beauty and aesthetics. It is the work of sculptor Praxiteles and depicts the god Hermes holding the infant Dionysos in his left arm. It was discovered during the excavations in Olympia, in 1877 by German archaeologists. The statue is a product of the 4th century B.C. and reflects the features of that period. The image of the god exudes peace and relaxation and his body has athletic characteristics that reflect harmony and eurhythmy. The Hermes of Praxiteles is one of the exhibits of the modern Museum of Olympia with the highest visit rate and is considered as the quintessential model of male beauty.

Pheidias and his workshop

Pheidias and his workshop

When the priests of Olympia decided that the temple of Zeus needed a new cult statue, Pheidias was the very man to be sought for. The artist whose sculptures beautified Athens, came and settled in Olympia and by 430 BC he delivered the colossal gold-and-ivory statue of Zeus, which would be listed among the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. Both the chryselephantine Zeus and its counterpart statue of Athena in the Parthenon vanished in the Middle Ages, however Pheidias’ workshop was discovered during the excavations at Olympia and its contents are on display in a special hall of the Archaeological Museum. Raw material residues, tools, jewels and casts offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the sanctum of a leading ancient Greek sculptor who took the trouble to sign his personal cup, inscribing upon the base “I belong to Pheidias”; another unique exhibit at the Museum of Olympia.

Thousands of years in the making, the Olympics began as part of a religious festival honoring the Greek god Zeus in the rural Greek town of Olympia. The idea of the Olympic Games is a philosophy of life, where blending sport and culture with art and education aims to combine in a balanced whole the human qualities of body, will, and, mind. Olympism is a way of life based on respect for human dignity and fundamental universal ethical principles, on the joy of effort and participation, on the educational role of good example, a way of life based on mutual understanding.

The history of the Olympic Games

The Ancient Olympics: Spectators and Events

The Ancient Olympics: Spectators and Events

The Events : In total the Olympic Games consisted of 10 events: running, pentathlon, jumping, discus, javelin, wrestling, boxing, the pangkration, chariot racing, and horse racing.

The history of Olympic Games

Ancient Olympic Games

Ancient Olympic Games

The first Olympic Games were organized in ancient Greece around 776 B.C. and were held with the utmost regularity every four years ever after for over 1000 years, devoted to Zeus, between August 6 and September 19.

The four years period in between two Olympic Games was called an Olympiad and was used as a meter of chronology.

The spirit of sport and friendly rivalry was the ideal of these Olympic games. The “Olympic truce”, that is the ceasing of fighting in the whole Greek world for as long as the Olympic games were on, was strictly observed with one or two excemptions.

The Spartans in 420 BC were excluded from the games on the ground of truce breaking.

In 426BC emperor Theodosius II ordered the destruction of the temples and the Altis was burnt.
Taking part in the Games was a great honor for the athlete and his native city.

The athletes were men of Greek origin that had not commited crime of sacrilege(had done something unholly).

The athletes competed in nude.Women were strickly forbiden to watch the games, with the excemption of the priestess of Demeter Chamyne. Violation of this rule was punishable by death.

According to Pausanias, the only time this rule was broken and the death sentence was not carried out, was the case of Kallipateira, daughter of the Rhodian Diagoras, who came to the stadium disguised as the trainer to encourage her son Peisidorus who was taking part in the games.

In her enthusiasm for his victory jumping over the trainers’ enclosure wall, her chiton fell down revealing her feminity.

The Hellanodikai, spared her life out of respect to her family, the Diagorides, who had three generations of Olympic winners: her father Diagoras, her brothers Eukleas and Kallianaktas and her son Peisidorus.

This incident was the reason for passing the law, which compelled the trainers to attend the stadium nakes, like the athletes..

Organization of the Games

Diskobolos (discus thrower) 2nd century

Diskobolos (discus thrower) 2nd century

The highest dignitaries of the Games were the 12 Hellanodikai (umpires), responsible for organizing the games and application of the rules.

They had the authority to disqualify individuals because of violation of the rules and to impose fines and punish those concerned.

They were helped by the alytai( a kind of policemen), the mastigophoroi(whippers) and the ravdouchoi( staff bearers).

All of them answered to the alytarch(chief of police).

Being part of religious ceremonies, there were also, the theokoloi, who conducted the sacrifices, the spondoforoi, assigned to travel throughout the Greek world to announce the Games and the celebrations, the seers that gave prophecies and had special prestige, the priests for special sacrifices, the flute players, the dancers and the head of ceremonies.

Ten months before the begining of the Games, the Hellanodikai stayed in a special building where they were informed of their duties and learned the rules of the Games.

The athletes had to announce to them their participation one year before the Games began. One month before the Games they had to come to Olympia with their trainers in order to prepare themselves.

The Games lasted five days. During the first day the opening ceremony was carried out.

The athletes registered and in front of the Zeus Orkios, they and their tariners, took a vow(orkos). They vowed that “they compete fairly and without violating the rules”.

The Hellanodikai also took a vow to be honest and fair in their judgements.

The second day included horse and chariot races in the hippodrome and the pentathlon. The third day was the most important.

It included glorious rites devoted to the worship of Zeus in the morning.

There was a large festive procession of priests, athletes, the Hellanodikai, and notables of Ellis and of the other Greek cities.

In the afternoon the foot races were held. The fourth day the so called heavy events – wrestling, boxing, the pankration and the race in armor took place.

The fifth and last day the festive awarding of the prizes was carried out in front of the statue of Zeus.

The crowning of the winners took place amongst the applause, the hymns and songs of the friends and relatives and the celebrations would last until the next morning.

The Olympic winner received as a prize an olive tree crown as well as other important prizes in kind and money and the victory gave the athlete great fame during his lifetime and posthumously.

A victory ode was written especially for him as well as a statue of the athlete was made.

The statue portrayed the ideal of the “good and honest” man.

His native city participated in his victory and his proud fellow citizens knocked down part of the city walls through which he made his entry.

The Events

The foot – race

The foot – race is the oldest contest that took place in Olympia.

The athletes were running nude, in an area around 600 feet (192.27m), called one Stadion.

This distance gave its name to the area used for the performance of the event.

The stadiums, were situated on hillsides or in small valleys, thus enabling the spectators to follow the events.

Later and as the crowd of spectators grew, artificial slopes were built and the spectators sat on the ground. The stadium at Olympia had a capacity of 45,000 spectators.
There are no records of the achievements of the athletes during Archaic times as there were no means of the keeping of time.

Pentathlon

The Ancient Olympics Events

The Ancient Olympics Events

The pentathlon was a combination of events. It included jumping, running, javelin, discus and wrestling.

The athlete had to combine many qualities and skills of the body.

Jumping Similar to the long jump.

The athlete jumped into a pit holding halters in his hands.
Discus An event loved by the Greeks most and known from Homeric poems.

A moment of discus throwing is captured in the famous statue of the Discus-thrower, opposite the Panathinaic Stadium, in Athens.
Javelin One of the favorite events of many mythical heroes. We find the “ekevolon” javelin throwing which was judged by the distance the javelin was thrown, and the “stohastikon” javelin throwing where the javelin was thrown at a specific target.
Wrestling It is refered to for the first time in Homer’s Labors for Patroclos. One of the pentathlon events but also independent in the Panhellenic games. Even today it is called Greek – Roman wrestling.
Boxing One of the oldest events, as shown by the early reference to the event by Homer and the representation of two children boxing on the mural from Akrotiri in Santorini.

The Pangkration

The Pangkration

The Pangkration A combination of wrestling and boxing, it was considered as the most worthy event for men in the games.

The horse races Took place in the hippodrome, a space used for the horse races. The horse races comprised of various events and were conducted with horses, chariots and quadriga.The most spectacular event was the quadriga race, an event in which the most prominent historic personalities had competed.

THE HERAIA

Runners-in-Heraia

Runners-in-Heraia

Independently of the Olympic games, THE HERAIA, foot races for women only in honor of Hera, were also taking place in Olympia. These games were also held every four years .

The women ran having their hair loose, dressed in short tunics. There is a perfect image at a statue in the Athens Archaeological museum of a girl taking part in the games.

The Greek people are friendly and welcome you to Greece.

Greek people in majority are well manored, smiling, helpful, and optimistic personalities. English language is widely spoken.
Athens, is still one of the safest European capitals although there are areas that you do not need to walk through. Ask the hotel employees.
It’s very likely you’ll be as charmed by the Greek people as you will be, by Greece’s beautiful landscape.

If your time is limited, a guided tour is the best way to see places.


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* Morning city sightseeing tour including Acropolis and the New Acropolis Museum, 38.00 €
* Afternoon sightseeing tour with a visit to the Acropolis, 35.00 €
* Morning walking tour of Athens historic centre, 35.00 €
* Afternoon tour to Sounion, the eastern cape with the temple of Poseidon, 33.00 €
* Full day tour of Athens. Morning city tour, lunch in Plaka, and afternoon tour to Sounion. April-October, 80.00 €
* Night Out in Athens with traditional Greek dinner and Greek dancing show, 58.00 €
* Morning half-day tour to Ancient Corinth. St Paul lived here for almost 18 months. April-October 51.00 €
* One day guided tour to Delphi. Visit the museum & the sanctuary of Apollo…Students 49.00 €, adults 59.00 €
* One day tour to Argolis. Mycenae, Nafplion & Epidaurus…Students 49.00 €, adults 59.00 €
* One day tour to Ancient Olympia Price shared by passengers
* One day tour to Meteora by train…from 69.00 €
* One day cruise to Hydra-Poros & Aegina. Price on request
* One day cruise and 1 day tour to Delphi 129.00 €
* One day cruise and 1 day tour to Argolis 129.00 €
* One day tour to Mycenae & the island of Poros 66.00 € without lunch, or 73.00 € with lunch
* Two day tour to Delphi at “slow pace”. April-October
* Two day tour to Nafplion at “slow pace”. April-October
* Two days to Delphi (site only) & Meteora. A popular tour from 120.00 € and arrival transfer offer for 4 star bookings.
* Two day “special” tour to Meteora by train…115.00 €
* 3 day tour, 1 night in Delphi & 1 in Kalampaka
* 3 days tour to Delphi with 2 nights in Kalampaka– Explore Meteora during your free day in Kalambaka… 148.00 €, April-October
* 3 days Classical tour – Mycenae, Epidaurus, Olympia & Delphi from 225.00 € and arrival transfer offer for 4 star bookings.
* 4 days Classical with Meteora monasteries tour from 320.00 € and arrival transfer offer for 4 star bookings.
* 4 days Monday’s special Classical tour. First night in Nafplio. April – October from 372.00 € and arrival transfer offer for 4 star bookings.
* 4 days Classical tour with Nafplio. April – October on Sun – Mon-Fri and selected Wed.
* 5 days Monday’s Classical & Meteora. First night in Nafplio. April – October from 422.00 € and arrival transfer offer.
* 5 days Classical tour with a day free in Kalambaka. April – October ….00 €
* 5 days tour of Northern Greece. April – October 660.00 €
* 7 days Grand tour of Greece. April – October 890.00 €

Independent trips by train:

* One day tour to Meteora by train & local taxi from 69.00 €
* Two days train & hotel trip to Kalampaka 73.00€
* 2 days “special” Meteora, with “morning” and “sunset” tours 115.00 €
* By train, Meteora and Delphi, 3 days/2 nights 138.00 €
* By train, Meteora and Thessaloniki, 5 days/4 nights. Price on r/q

Independent trips on Intercity buses:

* One day trip to Delphi on the intercity bus
* Two days to Olympia on the intercity bus

Private tours to:

* Half day tour to Marathon, Arch. museum, tomb and museum of Olympic Games.
* 1 day private tour to Olympia, museums & archaeological site.
* One day private tour to Delphi, monastery of Ossios Lucas and visit to the new museum of Thebes.
* One day private tour to ancient Corinth, Mycenae, lunch in Nafplion & Epidaurus.
* 2 day tour to Olympia, Ancient Messene & Nafplion(o/night).
* Two days tour to Delphi, Olympia(o/night) & ancient Messene.

Cruises to the Aegean islands

* One day cruise to Hydra, poros & Egina. Combine it with 1 day tours and pay a discounted price.
* 3 days to Mykonos, Patmos, Rhodes, Kusadasi
* 4 days to Mykonos, Patmos, Rhodes, Kusadasi
* 7 days cruise to Mykonos, Patmos, Rhodes, Kusadasi

All options to visit

* Meteora from Athens
* Olympia from Athens
* Nafplion from Athens
* Delphi from Athens