Ancient Olympia

1:30:00 AM Brooke Neal 0 Comments

Most people know Ancient Olympia as the site of the original Olympic Games held every 4 years in honor of Zeus.  What most don't know is that the games were only open to Greek male citizens who performed in the nude, women were forbidden from attending. 

At their height, the games lasted 5 days and consisted of the following events: running, boxing, wrestling, chariot racing and pentathlon.  The games were held for over 1100 years until they were shut down in 393AD by the Christian Emperor Theodosius.  
The Details
Cost: €9 combo ticket museum and site, children under 18 free
Hours: 8am-3pm
Time: Allow half a day for both site and museum.
Parking: We parked above the site near the taxi's, but there is a small lot closer to the site--follow the tourists down what appears to be a pedestrian way, it's not.  You can also hitch a ride for €2/person with a horse drawn carriage.  Either way, the site is only a 5 minute walk from the taxi lot.
The massive, 6 story Temple of Zeus held one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world, a 40 foot tall statue of Zeus, himself.  Notice Eden is standing next to one of the column drums, it is bigger than she is!  The temple was destroyed by an earthquake in the 6th century AD; the lone column you see standing is a restoration of original drums, polished and re-stacked to give us an idea of its massive size. Imagine--the column stands 34 feet tall, is 7 feet around and weighs 9 tons and there were 34!  
L-R: Kronos Hill--This is the sacred birthplace of Zeus, close up of Roman construction (tell, tell sign--the Greeks did not use bricks). The gates with crosses on it are from the Christian Byzantine era when the building was used as a church, but it was originally the work shop of Phidias, the artisan who created the statue of Zeus.  Close up of column, and theolos.

The boring picture below is the altar of Hera.  Why did I include it?  Since 1936, this is where the ceremonial Olympic torch has been lit.
We saw more homeless dogs in Greece than cats.  In Athens they are tagged and volunteers go around feeding them. They are friendly and clearly content as half of them were lounging in the sun.
And finally, what we've been waiting for...the stadium.  Top Right: This is where the judges sat, watching carefully for any cheating or poor sportsmanship.  That small rock on the opposite side of the field is actually a pedestal where the one female allowed at the games stood.   Bottom left: Boring picture, interesting story. There are 13 of these pedestals lining the entrance to the stadium.  Those whom were found cheating where penalized by paying for statue to be erected.  On the base of the statue was the name of the cheater and his offense.  How's that for public humiliation? 
Bob and the girls stand under the arch that was once a tunnel for athletes coming onto the field.  I convinced the girls to race Bob, Eliza wasn't so excited about it, but she was a good sport.  After a "false start" they were off.
Winners of the Olympic games received a laurel leaf crown and a statue erected in their honor--no NIKE contracts for these guys!  The pedestal below names the winner and identifies his event.   The white stone line in the ground is the original starting line--the two groves indicate where to place your feet.  The holes in that concrete wall are actually niches where athletes could store their belongings.  
On our way out of town we saw this aqueduct. Though you can not see it, a house backs right up against it.  

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