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

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

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

A fantastic day seeing Arachova, Delphi and Galaxidi! Notis was great, very friendly, he kept us well hydrated and gave us plenty of time in each location so we never felt rushed. He also brought us to a delicious lunch spot with a great view. We definitely recommend this tour!

Kaitlin S

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26/07/2022

Our driver and Greek philosopher, Notis, was a pleasure to spend the day with. He is so knowledgeable about all things Greek. We visited three monasteries in the sky — all had incredible views of the cliffs. You don’t have to be religious to appreciate the contemplativeness of this holy place. Thank you, Notis, for creating a memorable experience!

lorenzo

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11/10/2022

This was by far one of the most interesting and informative tours I have ever received, all thanks to our amazing tour guide Panos! He was extremely knowledgeable in terms of Greek History, as well as World History. He graciously answered all our questions in great detail. We will always remember this awesome tour not only because of the amazing sites and history, but also Panos’s company and humor.

Saad R

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29/12/2022

We had Tom as our driver and had a very enjoyable day. We saw everything as described and it was amazing. Tom was good about helping my mother with walking disabilities get around and still see everything. We had as much time as we needed to see everything and still have lunch by the water. Thanks for a wonderful day!

CherylIndiana

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11/10/2021

We were a group of four. This was our post cruise extension in Athens. We specifically wanted to visit ancient Corinth, to follow the footsteps of the Apostle Paul in the Bible. I worked with the manager Aris prior to departure, on the details of pick up/drop off, and to obtain a licensed tour guide (additional cost) with biblical knowledge of Corinth. Aris was very responsive and communicated well and timely. Our pickup by driver George at port Piraeus was prompt and smooth. George was a gentleman, friendly, courteous, safe driver, always ready to get to the doors and came prepared with cold water bottles in the trunk. We had nice chats with George enroute to Corinth canal, about the local area and especially enjoyed learning about olive farming from him.

Jen J

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11/09/2022

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