The Greek Cornucopia – Olympia

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog on our trip to Greece. Family and friends who read it thought it did not justify the 3.5 weeks that we spent there and recommended that I split it up and dedicate one post per place that we visited. I have retained the original blog for those of you who want a fast read. With Europe slowly limping back to normal since the COVID 19 lockdown and Greece quite enthusiastic about reopening tourism, there cannot be a better time for me to reminisce about that trip and write about it. Hope you enjoy these posts!

This is the fourth post of my seven part series on Greece.
The first few posts cover Thessaloniki, Meteora, Delphi, Crete and Athens. Lastly, you can read all my Thoughts, tips and things that matter in my seventh post.

Fourth Stop – Olympia – for the sake of Olympics. The site in Olympia is huge and the ruins are spread over a few acres. This was the site of the ancient Olympics. There was a temple dedicated to Zeus and his sister/wife Hera. While the Pythian Games in Delphi were dedicated to Apollo, the the games here in Olympia were dedicated to Zeus and promoted noble rivalry and fair play. During its heyday the Temple for Zeus had a huge statue of him made of gold and ivory. The sculptor Pheidias had a workshop on site. The complex has separate areas for the games, the teams’ lodgings, a seat for the officials and judges of the games, treasuries and even a place for hobnobbing politicians. Remember to visit the museum to see among other things, the different votives that were offered to Zeus.

The Prytaneion
The Prytaneion – Officials and winners of the Olympic games met here.
The Palaestra_2
The Palaestra – used to be a square building with changing rooms and training area for wrestling and boxing and jumping.
The Leonidaion
The Leonidaion – lodging for athletes
The Gymnasium
The Gymnasium
Ruins of Nero's Villa
Ruins of Emperor Nero’s villa

The Olympic flame is lit here in Olympia before the games begin. The tradition started during the Berlin Olympics to showcase the powerful Nazi Germany. The flame travelled from Olympia to Berlin and people thronged along the road to watch the relay of torch bearers. Post World War II, the tradition was renewed at the London Olympics. It has gone on to stand for hope and peace and literally a symbol for light at the end of darkness.

Foreground Hera's Altar Background Temple of Hera
Hera’s altar where the lighting of the Olympic flame takes place to this day
Altar of Zeus
Altar at the Temple of Zeus
Entrance to the stadium
At the Stadium_2
The Stadium could hold 45000 spectators, however there were no stone seating arrangement.
Bases of Zanes
The bases of Zanes – statues of Zeus stood on these bases, and the statues would be financed by the fines issued to cheating athletes! And the winners took home a wreath-crown made of olive leaves
The Philippeion – a tholos – a circular memorial that used to have ivory and gold statues of Philip II, his wife, parents and very famous son, Alexander the Great. It is assumed that the tholos was constructed under the orders of Philip II

From Olympia to the island of Crete. Read all about it in my next blog.


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