Olympia Travel Guide

Olympia in Greece

Olympia is a small town in Elis on the Peloponnese peninsula in Greece, famous for the nearby archaeological site of the same name, which was a major Panhellenic religious sanctuary of ancient Greece, where the ancient Olympic Games were held. The Olympic Games were held every four years throughout Classical antiquity, from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD.They were restored on a global basis in 1894 in honor of the ideal of peaceful international contention for excellence.

The sacred precinct was primarily dedicated to Zeus, although other gods were worshipped there. It drew visitors from all over the Greek world as one of a group of such "Panhellenic" centres which helped to build the identity of the ancient Greeks as a nation. Despite the name, it is nowhere near Mount Olympus in northern Greece, where the Twelve Olympians, the major deities of Ancient Greek religion, were believed to live. The precinct was distinct from the village having jurisdiction over it. Ancient history records that Pisa end Elis, other villages in the region, contended with Olympia for management of the precinct, and that Olympia won, implying that the village was not identical to the precinct. The putative location of the ancient village is the modern village, which appears to have been inhabited continuously since ancient times.

The archaeological site held over 70 significant buildings, and ruins of many of these survive, although the main Temple of Zeus survives only as stones on the ground. Of special interest to Greeks of all times is the Pelopion, the tomb of the quasi-mythical king, ancestor of the Atreids, the two kings who led their domains to war against Troy. The Peloponnesus is named for Pelops. The tomb suggests that he may not have been entirely mythical. Another location that has a special interest to both ancients and moderns is the stadium. It is basically a field with start line marked off by transverse curbing. The athletes entered under an archway at the start. Spectators sat mainly on the field's sloping flanks. The length of this field became the standard stadion, an ancient Greek unit of distance, which appears in all the geographers. The stadium has been resurrected for Olympic use with no alteration of the ancient topography. Transient stands are easily thrown up and removed.

The village services the sacred precinct adjacent to the south. The Kladeos River forms the border. Visitors walk over the bridge to find themselves in front of the main gate. Full visitation is an extensive walking event. Some excavation is in progress there frequently. Moveable artifacts have for the most part found a home in one of the village's two museums.

Map of Olympia with accommodations

The blue markers shows the location of various accommodations in Olympia. The letter in the marker describes the accommodation types: H for Hotel, A for Apartment, R for Resort, B for Bed & Breakfast and O for Other (e.g. pension, villa). Click on the blue marker for more information on the accommodation.

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