Above is a map of the city of Olympia (clickable)
|Olympia is a city at the western coast of the Pelloponnes. It was a normal city, like New York, but it had something special. The Olympics. Olympia had two parts: The city and the Olympics field above on a mountain. It was for women forbidden to see the Olympics. Once there was a women who tried to see them. See clothed herself like a trainer and looked at the matches of her son. When son won a match, she shouted like a woman and the men of Olympia killed her. From that time not only the participens but also the trainers and visitors weren't allowed to wear clothes.|
|Temple of Zeus|
|The Temple of Zeus, completed in 456 BC, was one of the largest temples in Greece (64m long and 28m width), and perhaps the most renowned example of Doric architecture in the Classical world. Today, none of the columns remain standing; earthquakes have taken their toll, and after the early Christian era, Olympia was abandoned to the flooding of the Peneus River. The building held six columns on each end, with thirteen on the flanks, and, except for the sculpted elements, was built entirely of local shell limestone.|
|Temple of Hera|
|During the 7th century, one of the very earliest monumental Greek temples was built here, originally a temple to both Zeus and Hera. But later, after the establishment of the great Temple of Zeus, it served Hera alone. In the 7th century, the temple was made of wood, but gradually was replaced in stone. The surviving capitals date to every period, from the late 7th century to Roman times. At the west end of the cella stood the archaic sculptures of Zeus and Hera, and the head of Hera has been recovered in the excavations. Here also was found the famous Hermes, sculpted by Praxiteles.|
|On a terrace at the base of Mount
Kronos lies a row of poorly preserved treasuries built in the sixth
century. All but two are dedications of Greek colonies. The best
preserved is the Treasury of Sikyon, which has been partially
restored. Two unidentified treasuries were obliterated by a
fountain dedicated by the wealthy Athenian, Herodes Atticus, in the
second century AD.
Immediately in front of the treasury terrace is the Metröon, temple of the mother of the gods, built in the fourth century. In Roman times, portraits of the Emperors were erected there. Today, only the stylobate survives.
|The Greeks referred to the Sanctuary of Zeus as
the Altis. The name Altis came from a corruption of the Elean word
for grove, alsos. Sanctuaries were centers of religious
worship where the Greeks built temples, treasuries, altars,
statues, and other structures.
The crowns made of olive leaves came from a wild olive tree in the Altis, which was called the olive of the Beautiful Crown. Olive trees, which supplied the Greeks with olive oil, olives, a cleaning agent for bathing, and a base for perfumes, were an important resource in the rocky and dry Greek environment. A Greek legend credited the hero Herakles (Hercules) with introducing the olive tree to Greece.
|The Tumulus of Pelops|
|The earliest building remains at Olympia are a
cluster of Bronze Age houses at the base of the Kronos hill. The
ruins of one of these houses were preserved by the Greeks as the
megaron of Oinomaos, the legendary king. Nearby was established the
tumulus of Pelops, who defeated Oinomaos in a chariot race to
Isthmia, and, in the same area, the Altar to Zeus was
A megaron was the large hall or main room of an early Greek house, with the roof supported by columns, the light entering through the doors, the smoke-hole, and the apertures just under the roof.
A tumulus is a large artificial mound built over a grave.
According to legend, the hero Pelops entered a chariot race with King Oinomaos to compete for the hand of Oinomaos' daughter Hippodamia in marriage. Hippodamia fell in love with Pelops and convinced her father's groom to sabotage the racing chariot by removing the linchpins attaching the wheels. After Oinomaos' chariot was destroyed and he was dragged to his death by his horses, Pelops became king and ruled over the region, which he called the Peloponnese after himself. Today, the southern part of the Greek mainland is still called by this name.
The legendary chariot race of Pelops and Oinomaos was commemorated with sculptures which decorated the East Pediment of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, which was built between 470 and 457 B.C.
|The first Olympic event, and the
only event for the first 13 Olympiads, was the foot-race, over a
distance of one stade. By Classical times, there were 18 contests,
including boxing, wrestling, horse races, and the pentathlon, as
well as additional running events.
The stadium at Olympia was originally within the sacred precinct, where spectators could view the races from the hill of Kronos. Gradually, the stadium was pushed farther east, until the late classical period, when it reached its present location outside the precinct. All the embankments are of earth, and only a few stone seats were provided for officials. Connecting the sanctuary and stadium was a vaulted passageway, an early example of the use of vaulting by the Greeks.
|The Workshop of Pheidias|
|Directly west of the Temple of Zeus stands one of the few surviving monuments of the early Christian period at Olympia. In the fifth century BC, this was the site of the workshop where Pheidias created the chryselephantine cult statue of Zeus. The plan of the building matches the plan of the cella of the temple. Molds and tools used in making the sculpture were discovered here, and as final proof of the identification, a cup bearing Pheidias' name.|
|Although little construction was carried out within the sanctuary after Classical times, west of the sanctuary, facilities continued to be developed for training athletes. The palaestra was added in the fourth century as a place for boxers and wrestlers to train, and north of it was the gymnasium. Southwest of the Altis lies another structure to accomodate the athletes, the hotel known as the Leonidaion, named for its donor.|