Ancient Olympia is a village builted near to an archaeological space, with 1.286 residents. It abstains 19 kilometres from Pirgos. It is built in the western Peloponnese, in the beautiful valley of the river Alfios, bloomed the most glorified sanctuary of the ancient Greece that was dedicated to the father of gods Zeus. Ancient Olympia unfolds in the south-western root of the verdant hill named Kronios, between the rivers Alfios and Kladeos that met in this region. Despite its isolated place nearby the western coast of Peloponnese, Olympia was established in Pan-Hellenic as the more important religious and athletic centre. Here were given birth to the most important fights of Ancient Greece, the Olympic Games which took place every four years in owner to Zeus. The Olympic Games are an institution with Hellenic fame and shine from the antiquity up to today. The beginning of adoration and the fabulous confrontations that took place in Olympia are lost in depths of centuries. The local fables with regard to the powerful king of the region, the noted Pelopa, and the fluvial god of Alfios, reveal the powerful bonds of holy not only with the East but also with the West.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL PLACES OF THE ANCIENT OLYMPIA.
Begin the visit from the Alti. It is a sacred space in the westerners, where are found the foundations of the roman propyleum. The first building on the left is prytaneum. It has been built in the end of 6th century before Christ and following was modified many times over and over again. This square building accommodated the sacred hearth of the Public of Ilias people that was burning night and day. There was taking place the ceremony on the awarding of victors. A little bit more southerly are found the ruins of Filippeio, a kiosk of circular building with ionic columns exteriorly and Corinthian semi-columns internally, a monument of victory and heroes. According to Pafsanias, it began to get built by Philippos the second of Macedonia afterwards the battle of Chaironeia (338 before Christ.), and got finished by the Grand Alexander. At the cella on a semicircular pedestal, were placed five golden statues of elephants of the Macedonian royal family (Philip, Alexander, Olympic Games, Aminta and Eurydice), works of the sculptor Leocharos. In north-eastern of Philippio you can see the ruins of Ireo, one of the most ancient Dorian temples that we know. It was erected by the residents of Skillounta in the end 7th century or in the beginnings of 6th century before Christ. Three temples succeeded the one the other at this place. Pafsanias reports the existence of two statues in the cella, the temple of Ira and the temple of Zeus, that both were not found. In Roman Age here were looked after the more important oblations at the sanctumetres. In a cirque were found the statue of god Mercury, work of Praxiteli, with the small Dionysos, and the colossal stone head of the statue of Ira. In the eastern of Ireo are distinguished the foundations of two altars and in the south-western Pelopio, the most ancient monument of Alti, in which people honoured Pelopa with the sacrifice of black lamps. Today you will see only the remains of an unequal cartilage and a tomb. The semicircular nympheaum has been built (160 after Christ) by Erodes the Attic as a reservoir of water. In the eastern of it, on a level at the foot of Kronios, was the treasures, small temples full of dedicative, built the 6th and 5th century before Christ from various Greek cities. From these treasures are saved today only the foundations. There are found as well the “zanes”, bases for sixteen cupreous statues of Zeus (4th century before Christ), manufactured from the fines that were paid by the athletes, if they had bribed their opponents. At the foot of the level where have been the treasures were erected the Record, a Dorian temple of the Mother of gods or o Rea-Cybil, in the 4th century before Christ. In the 267 after Christ, with the raid of Eroulos, has been flattened. In Roman Age it was changed to the temple of August and Roman emperors, the statues of which were found in the cella. In the south-eastern of the Record, Pafsanias cites the temple of Ippodameia, the wife of Pelopas. The temple does not exist anymore.
After the treasures is located the stadium. Between the entry of hippodrome and the entry of the stadium unfolded the gallery of echo or varied, that opened straight in Alti. The first name is owed to the fact that the sounds were repeated, according to the fable, seven times, and the second name in the murals with witch was decorated. The gallery was erected in the second half of the 4th century before Christ, in such a point, so that it connects the stadium with Alti, proving unbreakable relation between the Olympic Games and religion.
In the South-eastern of the gallery have been excavated the ruins of a building cluster, that in first point it was the sanctum of Hearth or the prytaneum of Pisates of the 5th century before Christ. Later, however, it was covered at the biggest part of the residence of Nerona in the 67 after Christ, who participated in Olympic Games of his season and indeed it had been nominated as a victor, however not with his value. Later, at the same place have been built spa.
The entry, the crypt, is south-easterly of the treasures and is covered with arches. From here entered in the stage the hellanodics and the athletes. The excavations of German archaeologists revealed the whole race-course, with the finish and its start line. The interval between these two points is about 192, 17 metres, which defines the length of the Olympic stadium. According to the fable, the length of the stadium had determined first of all the others Hercules, making 600 regular steps. The stadium could include 40.000 spectators and it is right the fact that was considered one of biggest of its season. It belongs to the 4th century before Christ with Hellenistic and roman additaments. In the 155 after Christ was manufactured the altar of Dimitra of Chamyni, in honour of Rigillas, the wife of Herodis of Attic. The systematic excavations brought in the light a wooden platform opposite of the altar of Chamyni, in the northern department of the stadium, where might was the “seat” of hellanodics. Nearby the stadium have been excavated the temple of Zeus, the biggest and richest Dorian temple of Alti, work of the architect Libonas of Ilia.
It was built from the 470 until 456 before Christ. it was surrounded by thirteen columns aside and six in ante temple and in back temple. Proud and imposing, made of conchoidal stone, temple was decorated by marvellous sculptural clusters and compositions, some of which are saved until today. In the Eastern pediment dominated a gold-filled Victory. In its base it was fixed a golden shield, which had been offered in 456 before Christ the Lacedaemonian in recollection of their victory in Tanagra, while tripods with golden-filled boilers constituted the corner capes. Besides the marvellous representations of the pediments and the riches dedicatives that preened the ante-temple what distinguished were, certain, the colossal statue of Zeus, work of Feidias that was set up in the cella of the temple.
The beauty of this chryselephantine statue, that was burned in fire in Istamboul (475 after Christ.), where it had been transported, was so great that Pafsanias cites the following incident: when Feidias completed his work, he asked Zeus a divine sign on condition that the result had satisfied him, and Zeus sent immediately a lightning. In Front of the statue, in the cella of the temple, existed small reservoir, laid with black plates, where, according to Pafsanias, rolled always the oil with which they spread the statue in order to not to be destroyed. Equally impressive was also the chryselephantine throne of the statue, decorated by sculptors, paintings representations and precious stones. The temple was burned in 426 after Christ., whereas a big destruction became due to the earthquakes of 6th century after Christ, as it appears from the fallen columns and scattered in the space of chapiter In this temple are visible the traces of the elaborate decoration of mosaic floorings. In front of the steps that lead to the temple are distinguished the bases of the statues- dedicatives. The most famous is the triangular base of the Victory of Paionios.
Stepping south-westerly from the temple of Zeus, you will go outside the sacred place of Alti and the first building that you will meet is the chamber of deputies that was constituted by two main buildings of 6th and 5th century before Christ. Between them existed an open courtyard, with the statue of Orkios Zeus in the centre. In the Hellenistic Period was added a Ionian gallery, thanks to which were connected henceforth the two similar buildings. The chamber of deputies was the seat of Olympic Parliament, where the athletes gave in front of hellanodics the Olympic oath. Beyond the chamber of deputies unfold ruins of the southern gallery, work of the 4th century before Christ.
The Leonidaio, was the biggest building of Olympia, from which you will have the opportunity to see only the foundations, it has been builted in the middle of the 4th century before Christ from the capable Leonidis, in who owes its name. There was lodged the official guests of the fights. It was a square building, framed with exterior Ionian colonnade from 138 columns, whereas around it was found the apartments, closed or with colonnades. In the centre existed a courtyard which in the Roman Age was changed in artificial lake with gardens. In the north of the bulky Leonidaio it is saved in relatively good situation the laboratory of Feidias. Here, according to the discoveries of excavations, Feidias accommodated his eminent chryselephantine statue of Zeus. Afterwards the 5th century before Christ, his laboratory was useful as deposit for clothing, vessels with oil and perfumes.
More northly you will distinguish the ruins of a square building of the 4th century before Christ, with the strange name Theokoleon. Here lived the priests and foretellers. Next to it were precisely revealed the ruins of a building that the dedications determine as war memorial or temple of heroical dead, of Hellenistic and Roman Age. Nearly in the watercourse of Kladeos are distinguished the remains of the installations of hot baths, of the Classic (5th century before Christ) till Roman Age.
The partly reconstructed palestra, built in the end of the 3rd century before Christ, was the place where exercised the athletes. It was a square building with a central internal courtyard and peristyle with Dorian colonnades, the palestra allocated rooms that were useful as baths, space of stay of athletes, lounges of speakers and philosophers. Also, partly restored is the high school. It was constituted by two long arcades, that were framing a spacious square, and it was useful for the exercise of athletes who did light competitions.
MONUMENT OF COUMPERDEN.
It is located at the Olympic Academy. Here we find embalmed-as he had wished to- the heart of a French baron named Pierre de Coumperden (1863-1937), who was the inspirer of the resurgence of the Olympic Games.
THE THEATRE OF OLYMPIA (FLOKA), 3 kilometres northerly in the village Flokas. In the summer months are realised representations of ancient drama and concerts.
THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUMETRES
In the renewed neoclassical building of the old museum (it was founded in 1886), that was erected with financing of the national benefactor named Andreas Sygros. There are exposed discoveries that are related with the Olympic Games. The manufacture of the new museum was completed in 1975 and was inaugurated in 1982.
OLYMPIC GAMES, with historical subjects from 776 before Christ till 392 after Christ as well as souvenirs of the new history of Olympic Games (photographs of Olympic champions, medals, diplomas, torches e.t.c.), from their resurgence, in 1896, until today. Between them is found as well the unique in the world collection of stamps on the subject of the Olympic Games.
Also you should see the cupreous figurines that depict warriors and were elements of cupreous boilers. The Cupreous busts of griffins, the cupreous helmets (particularly this with the representation of horseman , cupreous calfs the cupreous thoraxes, the cupreous winged demonic form, the head of view Ira, the earthen cape of Ireo and the cupreous laminas with the fabulous representations, the departments of the pediments of the treasure of Megaris and of Gelis. The earthen cluster in which is depicted Jupiter keeping the young Ganimidis, the helmet of Miltiadi, which, according to the sign that is saved, dedicated the general to Zeus afterwards the battle of Marathona, the crockery head of goddess Athena and the discoveries (tools Mr a.) from the laboratory of Feidias. The sculptures that decorated the pediments and the metopes of the sacred Zeus. The statue of Victory, is a work of Paionios. The statue, with his triangular base, was set up in front of the temple of Zeus and constituted dedicative of the Messines of Nafpactos, according to the sign on the base. The Victory, is pictured as it goes down from the sky, hardly steps in the cloud, from where appearred an eagle sent from Zeus..
The statue of Mercury is a work of Praxitelis (330 [p].X roughly), one of the hommages of temple of Ira. In this is depicted the god naked, he keeps in his left winger hand the newborn Dionysus, which he transports in the Nymphs, in order to bring him up afterwards the death of his mother, Semelis. The work, with his harmonious proportions, constitutes one of the most famous exhibits of the Museumetres In the limits of ancient Olympia take place a lot of feastw such as the festival of Ancient Olympia during the summer months, with concerts, choral, dancing and theatrical representations. As well as, representations of ancient drama, concerts and cultural events, in the theatre Olympia ([Floka).