Ancient Olympia tours from Katakolon

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Archaeological Site of Ancient Olympia

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Archaeological Site of Ancient Olympia

The extensive ruins of the archaeological site of Olympia include the Sanctuary of Zeus and many buildings surrounding it, such as the Temple of Hera, administrative buildings, the stadium, and more! The athletic training areas were used for the Olympic Games preparation and celebration.

Altis Sanctuary

The Altis is the sanctuary to the gods and home to the greatest collection of masterpieces in one location in ancient Greece. The sacred sanctuary was separated from the stadium by an enclosure wall – a peribolos – which once had three gates and the Echo Stoa!

During Roman Times, the enclosure wall was further extended on the west side, with the addition of two monumental entrances.

The temples dedicated to Zeus and Hera dominate the Altis Sanctuary. East of the Temple of Hera (Heraion) is the temple of Metroon, dedicated to Cybele, the mother of the gods.

Just steps away, at the foot of Mount Kronos (Mount Kronios), is a series of Treasuries built by Greek colonies and cities to store valuable offerings.

To the west lies the Nymphaion, a splendid fountain dedicated by Herodes Atticus.

To the south of the Heraion is the Pelopion, the alleged tomb of Pelops – a hero in Greek mythology, built upon the remains of the prehistoric settlement of Olympia.

The Altis also houses the Prytaneion and the Philippeion, a circular, marble and limestone memorial – the only structure in the Altis dedicated to a human – King Philip II of Macedonia.

Southeast of the Heraion was the altar of Zeus, a most important monument made entirely of ashes and therefore is now lost. Many altars and statues of gods, heroes, and Olympic winners, dedicated by Greek cities or the elite, filled the remaining space inside the Altis.

The Bouleuterion (an assembly house for local legislatures) is just south of the Altis, and just below it is the South Stoa, the southernmost building of the celebrated sanctuary, and its main entrance from the south.

On the west side of the Altis, separated by the Sacred Road, is a row of buildings that housed, the sanctuary personnel, the athletes, and distinguished visitors. These included the:

  • Gymnasium
  • Palaestra
  • Exercise grounds
  • Greek baths and the swimming pool
  • Roman hot baths
  • Theokoleion residence
  • Leonidaion quarters
  • Workshop of Pheidias (later transformed into a Christian church)
  • Roman hostels

To the east of the Altis lies the stadium where the Olympic Games were held. The hippodrome, of which no trace remains, having been swept away by the Alpheios, was situated to the south of the stadium.

Some mansions and baths, including the House of Nero, are located to the south of the hippodrome. These were built by the emperor for his stay at Olympia, for his participation in the Olympic Games.