How Many Can Say They Have Been to the Site of the Original Olympics in the Ancient City of Olympia, Greece

During April 2014, we took a cruise of the Greek Islands & the Italian and French Riviera.  After a day at sea, our first port of call was to Olympia, where we took an excursion to see the birthplace of the Olympic Games.

Traveling from Rome to Italy, we passed through the Straight of Messina.  Below we have the island of Sicily on the left and Italy on the right.

IMG_9504After about a 20 minute drive from the port, we arrived to Olympia. The Olympic games were held every 4 years from the 8th century BC to 4th century AD. After the games, during about the 8th century AD, various earthquakes and river flooding buried the site under 8 meters (26 feet) of mud. It wasn’t until the late 1700s that the site was found and excavated. Even today, as in the left side of this picture shows, excavations continue.

IMG_9517The games were a tribute to the Greek God Zeus, and during the games, all of the Greek city states agreed to peace & no fighting during the games. The games ended as Greece was taken over by the Romans, and because they were Christian ended the games dedicated to Greek Gods.

IMG_9528 IMG_9531 IMG_9522The columns still stand, but the roof and walls have long since been gone. All of the columns are made of marble.

IMG_9534The column standing is what remains of the “Temple of Zeus”, which was built in 400 BC. An earthquake destroyed the temple.

IMG_9547 IMG_9558 IMG_9562This is a picture of what the Statue of Zeus looked like inside the temple. Made of marble and gold, the statue stood 13 meters (43 feet) tall. In his right hand, is Nike the Greek God of victory (and the origin of the name of the shoe company).IMG_9627Track can still be seen. It has a marble staring line, and is 150 meters (500 feet) long. Spectators would have sat along the hillside to watch. When the 2004 Olympics were held in Athens, the shot put, javelin, and discus competition were held here.

IMG_9570 IMG_9572Another ancient temple that use to have 18 columns:

IMG_9597The modern Olympic games started back in 1896. Since the 1936 games, the Olympic Flame has been ignited in front of this structure.


A parabolic mirror catches the sun’s rays to light the flame that is then carried to the final destination of that year’s Olympic games. In ancient times, a flame was light during the entire ceremony to represent the stealing of fire from Zeus. And, it was Hitler’s idea to start the tradition of the Olympic Flame marathons for the games held in Berlin.

IMG_9588After our tour of the grounds, we visited the museum on-site which housed some of the ancient artifacts and statues that were found at the site.

Our visit to Olympia was very fascinating to see the ancient site of the games that are still played today.  Every two years now when the Winter and Summer Olympics start, when the flame is shown being lit, we can say we have been to the exact spot where it started.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: