Olympia Archaeological Site
The first Olympic festival and games were organized on the site of Olympia in 776 BC. The earliest evidence of building activity on the site dates from around 600 BC when the Temple of Hera was built. The first stadium was constructed around 560 BC and was remodelled around 500 BC with sloping sides for spectators. Over the course of the 6th century BC, a range of sports was added to the Olympic festival. The golden age of the site at Olympia was during the classical period, of 5th and 4th centuries BC, when a range of new religious and secular buildings and structures were constructed.
The Temple of Zeus was built in the middle of the 5th century BC. Sporting facilities, including the Hippodrome for chariot-racing, the Prytaneion and the Greek Baths were also constructed in the 5th century BC. In the late classical period, further structures were added to the site.
The late 4th century BC saw the erection of the Philippeion. Around 300 BC the largest building on the site, the Leonidaion, was constructed to house important visitors and further athletic buildings were constructed. Finally, in 200 BC, a vaulted archway was erected linking the entrance of the stadium.
During the Roman period, the games were opened up to all citizens of the Roman Empire and a programme of new buildings and extensive repairs were undertaken. The Olympic festival continued to be held at the site until the last Olympiad in 393 AD, after which the Christian emperor Theodosius I implemented a ban. Earthquakes devastated the site in the 6th century and repeated floods ensured that the settlement was finally abandoned altogether in the early 7th Century.
Highlights of the Olympia Archaeological Site
- Temple of Hera, Olympia
- Temple of Zeus, Olympia
- Philippeion, Olympia
- Stadium at Olympia
Olympia – Photo Gallery
Greek Proverbs and Quotes
“Holding an Olympic Games means evoking history. ”
– Pierre de Coubertin
Photo Credit: JOM