Ancient Olympia

290km from Athens

Ancient Olympia

Olympia, officially Archaia Olympia, is a small town in Elis on the Peloponnese peninsula in Greece, famous for the nearby archaeological site of the same name. This site was a major Panhellenic religious sanctuary of ancient Greece, where the ancient 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.

Available Tours to Ancient Olympia

Olympia

Olympia was a sacred place that attracted worshipers from around the ancient world. Starting from the 8th century BC, the religious celebrations at Olympia became associated with the Sacred Olympic Truce, honored throughout the Greek world following an agreement between the Spartan Lykourgos and the King of Elis, Iphitos. In the 5th century BC, Olympia became a place where ideas were spread, with dozens of thinkers and influential individuals coming here to exchange and pass on their knowledge and ideas.

Archaeological site of Olympia

The archaeological site held over 70 significant buildings, and ruins of many of these survive. 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.

Temple of Zeus

The Temple of Zeus at Olympia was an ancient Greek temple in Olympia, Greece, dedicated to the god Zeus. The temple, built in the second quarter of the fifth century BC, was the very model of the fully developed classical Greek temple of the Doric order.

Stadium at Olympia

The stadium at the archaeological site of Olympia, Greece, is located to the east of the sanctuary of Zeus. It was the location of many of the sporting events at the Ancient Olympic Games.

Temple of Hera

The Temple of Hera, or Heraion, is an ancient Archaic Greek temple that was dedicated to Hera, queen of the Greek gods. It was the oldest temple at Olympia and one of the most venerable in all Greece. It was originally a joint temple of Hera and Zeus, chief of the gods, until a separate temple was built for him. It is at the altar of this temple, which is oriented east-west, that the Olympic flame is lit and carried to all parts of the world. The torch of the Olympic flame is lit in its ruins to this day. The temple was built in approximately 590 BC, but was destroyed by an earthquake in the early 4th century CE.

Nymphaeum

Nymphaeum, “home of the Nymphs” or water goddesses was the official name of a water-distribution structure constructed in the mid-2nd century at that site to provide water to the masses who attended the Olympic Games in July and August. Nymphaeum was the general name throughout the Mediterranean for an ornate structure that terminated an aqueduct bringing water from distant elevated terrain, say a stream or copious springs. This one had substructures, statues, and ornately patterned stonework; its main purpose, however, was functional. It received water from the aqueduct into a cistern and released it by stages into a system of open and closed channels leading around the site. The end partaker of the water carried a secular patera, or small drinking bowl, around with him, dipping into an open trough for the water, as is suggested by the fact that at least some of the statues carried such paterae in one hand. Troughs went everywhere through the site to accommodate the crowds.

Palaestra

The palaestra is the ground or grounds in ancient Olympia where “pali” (“wrestling”) was taught and performed for training purposes, i.e. “wrestling-school”. Two other martial arts were taught there: Greek πυγμή (pygme), Latin pugnus, "fist, boxing," and Greek παγκράτιον, Latin pancration or pancratium, "any method," which was free-style, or hand-to-hand, including grappling, kicking, punching, or any unarmed method whatever, no holds barred. The latter was sometimes deadly, or disfiguring (with permission), which indicates that the arts were ephebic, or "soldier" training for prospective citizens of the city-state sponsoring the school, such as Elis, but here combined with prospective candidacy for contention in the games. Be that as it may, none of the games were conducted without rules, umpires, and judges, who did not hesitate to stop contests, fine contenders within some cases amounts prohibiting future participation, or bar flagrant violators.

Philippeion

The Philippeion in the Altis of Olympia was an Ionic circular memorial in limestone and marble, a tholos, which contained chryselephantine (ivory and gold) statues of Philip's family: himself, Alexander the Great, Olympias, Amyntas III and Eurydice I. It was made by the Athenian sculptor Leochares in celebration of Philip's victory at the battle of Chaeronea (338 BC). It was the only structure inside the Altis dedicated to a human. The temple consisted of an outer colonnade of Ionic order with 18 columns. Inside it had nine engaged columns of the lavishly designed Corinthian order. It had a diameter of 15 meters. The naos contained two windows, much like Hera II at Paestum. It had a carved marble roof which was decorated with a bronze poppy head on top.

Archaeological Museum of Olympia

The Archaeological Museum of Olympia is one of the principal museums of Greece, located in Olympia. It is overseen by the Ministry of Culture and Sports, and, as of 2009, is directed by Georgia Chatzi. When the original building was completed and opened in 1882, it was the first museum in Greece outside of Athens. The museum houses discoveries from the surrounding area, including the site of the Ancient Olympic Games. The collection includes objects produced and used in the area from prehistory to its time under Roman rule. The principal pieces in the museum are Hermes and the Infant Dionysus (attributed to Praxiteles), some objects from the Temple of Zeus, the Nike of Paionios, as well as an oenochoe that belonged to Phidias. The extent of its bronze collection makes it one of the most important in the world.

Museum of Olympic Games

The ancient Olympic Games were a series of athletic competitions among representatives of city-states and one of the Panhellenic Games of Ancient Greece. They were held in honor of Zeus, and the Greeks gave them a mythological origin. The first Olympic Games are traditionally dated to 776 BC. The games were held every four years, or Olympiad, which became a unit of time in historical chronologies. They continued to be celebrated when Greece came under Roman rule, 2nd century BC. Their last recorded celebration was in AD 393, under the emperor Theodosius I, but archeological evidence indicates that some games were still held after this date. The games likely came to an end under Theodosius II, possibly in connection with a fire that burned down the temple of the Olympian Zeus during his reign.

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Trip Advisor Reviews

We booked on TripAdvisor and communicated ahead of time about where we would meet our driver. Everything went very smoothly with the pickup and Dimitri was very friendly. He shared interesting information about his life, how he grew up, Greek history, mythology and more. He has a very nice Mercedes taxi, and it was a very smooth comfortable ride. We stopped at the Corinth Canal and then had about an hour and 15 minutes at the Mycenae site. He recommended a popular souvlaki place when we returned to Athens and overall, it was a great half day trip!

Chris A

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09/09/2022

A fabulous day out in the mountains! Our driver, Panos and guide George were informative and entertaining. The monastery, Temple of Apollo, and museum were fabulous. Lunch was included in a wonderful Cafe with a view. We ordered whatever we wanted. A stroll through a small picturesque village was a perfect ending. A great escape to country life in Greece.

Lori F

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10/05/2022

This was the most fun I’ve had in a tour ever. For the first time in all my years of traveling, I had the same tour guide in two separate tours. I happened to have THE MAN Notis as my tour guide again. With that being said, we were already very well acquainted from the first tour I had with him earlier that week; so I just asked a couple of questions for my notes and then we spent the rest of the way talking about so many different topics. Highly recommend this tour for solo travelers, couples, or small groups.

Saúl Navarro

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16/11/2022

My husband and I were on a full day tour with Panos. He picked us up at the port and gave us a detailed description of what we would be doing that day. My favorite thing about Panos is his ability to make you immediately feel like you’re his best friend in town on holiday. He gives great cultural explanations and I feel like I learned so much more than I did on my previous tour of Athens where I just received a basic historical tour. I really appreciate Panos’ ability to be flexible and adjust the tour when we were feeling tired. As someone who has health issues and never knows quite how they will feel each day, I appreciate his kindness. We would wholeheartedly recommend this tour!

Morgan W

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15/07/2022

This tour was excellent and George, our guide was very professional, polite and informative. The museum at the ancient city of Corinth was very interesting and the canal was impressive.

FurryCanines

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17/10/2022

Everything was wonderful, Dimitris was a wealth of knowledge, and showed us around the city, while letting us do so at our own pace. Highly recommend!

Alexandra E

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12/09/2022

Delphi was magnificent! So much more than we thought it would be. The grounds were magical (as expected) and the museum was outstanding. The artifacts all around were definitely something to behold. Words and pictures cannot do them justice. Just to think how these temples and stadiums were built is mind blowing! We are also very grateful that we had Takis as our guide/driver. He was very friendly, helpful and professional, gave us good information and tips, and took us through all the winding city streets of Arachova. Another gem of a town we thoroughly enjoyed!

Donna D

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27/10/2022

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