Discover the amazing town of Olympia. A place were the Olympic Games were made.
According to historical records, the first ancient Olympic Games can be traced back to 776 BC, that is approximately 3000 years ago. They were dedicated to the Olympian gods and were staged on the ancient plains of Olympia. They continued for nearly 12 centuries, until the Christian Emperor Theodosius decreed in 393 A.D. that all such “pagan cults” be banned.
The first Olympic Games were held in 776 BCE at the first full moon after the summer solstice.
First inhabited in the second millennium BCE, the first archaeological record of dwellings dates from 1900 to 1600 BCE. The Kronion hill at the site was perhaps the first place of worship, dedicated to Kronos. However, other sacred buildings at the foot of the hill in the sacred grove of wild olive trees, or Altis, indicate other deities were worshipped such as Gaia, Themis, Aphrodite, and Pelops. With the descent of western Greek tribes into the Peloponnese, though, it was Zeus, father of the Olympian gods, who would become the dominant cult figure at Olympia.
A second important event held at Olympia was the Heraia Games for women, held every four years in honour of the goddess, Hera. Children, adolescents, and young women ran in separate foot-races over 500 feet of the stadium track (160 m). Prizes for victors included olive crowns and the right to set up a portrait of themselves on the site. The responsibility for the organisation of both Games and for maintenance of the site when not in use lay with the Eleans.
Olympia (Ολυμπία) is one of the most influential ancient Greek sanctuaries, located in western Peloponnese, in Elis. It is is positioned in a serene and rich valley at the confluence of the Alpheios and the Kladeos rivers. In antiquity it was famous beyond the borders of mainland Greece for hosting the Olympic Games every four years, starting in 776 BCE.
The archaeological site is located withing walking distance of the modern village called Ancient Olympia and it includes ruins from Bronze Age to the Byzantine eras. The site covers an expanded area of ruins scattered among low trees, as well as the ancient stadium where the Olympics took place. An impressive array of artifacts which were unearthed during excavations are on exhibition at the nearby Olympia Museum.