We took a day trip to the ancient city of Olympia.
This is where athletes lived and trained during ancient times.
There are many temples and training buildings in great condition.
Tori ran around the Olympia stadium.
The entryway into the stadium:
Outside the entrance were statues erected from fines of athletes who cheated. On the bases of the statues were the athletes’ names and nature of penalty. I think we should reenact this practice.
The track is 212.54 m (697.3 ft) long and 28.5 m (94 ft) wide and surrounded by grassy banks on all sides. All the seats were made of mud and on the southern slope there was a stone platform, the exedra, on which the Hellanodikai, the judges, would sit. The stadium could hold 50,000 spectators.
The games were held between 776 BC and 393 AD. The games were held every four years at the beginning, and the middle of the “Great Year”. The Great Year, was a way that people in Greece would determine the difference between solar and lunar years.
There were three stadiums constructed. The first one, (Stadium I), was created during the archaic period. It was mainly used to hold games for the contestants of nearby city-states of Greece. (Stadium II) was built to the east of the first stadium, this was built to add on events. In addition, a racetrack was also built. It was built ideally next to a large hillside that served as a natural sitting area. The third stadium, (Stadium III), was built mainly to hold larger audiences. Along the embankments surrounding the stadium are large wells that not only served as water offerings, but also served as votive offerings, mostly of bronze.
For all participating city-states, a sacred truce was made by the three kings Iphitus of Elis, Lycurgus of Sparta, and Cleisthenes of Pisa. The truce ensured that no one would be hostile towards one another and it also ensured a suspension of any executions for the duration of the games. From the lists that we have of victors from these Olympic games, we know that the Olympic games eventually brought in many champions from different parts of the world. Champions were from as far as Sicily and Northern Africa. See more.
Guests and patrons stayed in a fancy house with a mosaic pool and lovely courtyard.
Here’s what it used to look like:
Alex liked the Philippeion, commissioned by Alexander the Great.
I just wanted to see the workshop of Pheidias!
The building was erected in the second half of the fifth century, when Pheidias, after completing the sculptures for the Athenian Acropolis, went to Olympia to work on the statue of Zeus. Excavation finds and pottery date it precisely to 430-420 BC. Later the workshop became a place of worship containing an altar for sacrifices to various gods, which Pausanias saw in the second century AD. In the fifth century AD, a Christian basilica was erected over its ruins.
The workshop, a rectangular hall oriented east-west with an entrance on the east side, had the same dimensions (32 x18 x 14.50m) as the cella of the temple of Zeus, probably to facilitate the construction of the statue. Built of shell-limestone, it was divided into three naves by two rows of columns. The statue probably stood in the central, wider nave. It had a wooden core which the sculptor revetted with gold, ivory and glass plaques. These were worked in the adjacent south wing of the workshop, which sheltered the craftsmen. A wealth of excavation finds, including clay matrices for the folds of the statue’s robe, pieces of ivory and semi-precious stone, bone goldsmith’s tools, glass flower petals and a most important small black-painted oinochoe inscribed Pheidio eimi, or “I belong to Pheidias” all come from this area. See more.
There’s a nice museum where we cooled off and saw some of the artifacts from the workshop of Pheidias.
The girls liked the statue of Victoria Nike.
This was one of our favorite trips. It was the least anticipated and we were so pleasantly surprised. It was quite warm that day and the ruins are extensive. There’s a shop by the parking lot for treats and a nice cafe in the museum where we got ice cream.
Combo tickets for adults for the ruins and museum are €9 and kids are FREE!
Check out our Eating Through Greece post! See our whole Greek trip itinerary here.