Ancient Olympia: The Birthplace of the Olympic Games

Hera's Temple. In modern Olympics the temple is the location where the torch of the Olympic flame is lit.

The opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympic Games will take place in London in just a few days (27th July) and all eyes will be on the athletes struggling for personal and world records and medals, of course. But what is this event that unites people from all over the world and makes us want to cry when we see athletes representing our country standing on the top 3 medalists' pedestal?

The Olympic Games were a series of athletic competitions between representatives of various city-states of Ancient Greece held in honor of god Zeus. Records indicate that they began in 776 BC in Olympia, Greece and were always held at this same place until 394 AD, when they were stopped by Theodosius I, rather than alternating to different locations, as is the tradition with the modern Olympics. This translates that for more than a thousand years that same spot on earth, Ancient Olympia, would be the center of worshiping Gods and where the most important athletic event took place. I am proud and honored to say that this is my place of origin from my father's side!

The Crypt, arched Entrance of the Stadium

The Stadium

The Echo Stoa 

Philippeion, a circular memorial of ivory and gold in celebration of King Philip's victory at the battle of Chaeronea

The High Priestess holding the Olympic Flame // More photos from the ceremony here

Gymnasium and Palaestra 

Temple of Zeus

I hope that you enjoyed this post and that it has made you eager to visit the birthplace of the Olympic Games some day soon to feel the magic from within. Here is a list of the best hotels in the area. My personal favorite is Olympion Asty, where we had our wedding reception, but you can find 15 more, depending on your budget and personal taste. 

Apart from the archaeological site, you must definitely visit the Museum especially for the breathtaking experience when first looking at Hermes of Praxiteles, a 2.10 meter tall statue (3.70 m with the base)! 

Hermes of Praxiteles @ Olympia's Museum

Learn more about the Ancient Olympic Games
Learn more about Ancient Olympia

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