Olympia – a Sanctuary

As you leave Pyrgos and wind up the hill to Olympia, it is easy to understand why this is thought  to be the playground of the gods. From ten kilometres out, the air gets clearer and all the vegetation seems more lush and fragrant. There is a zephyr breeze and the temperature is perfect.

A clear day at Olympia
A clear day at Olympia

We first visited the Olympia Archaeological Museum. It covers the history of the site beginning with prehistoric artifacts until the Sanctuary’s demise under Theodosius ll.

One of two beautiful pediments recovered from Zeus' temple.
One of two beautiful pediments recovered from Zeus’ temple.

James and I watched many videos of Greece recently and now we wonder why we had never seen an aerial of the site as a whole. Olympia is remarkable. Imagine kicking a goal in your city’s biggest stadium and then imagine winning a race under the gaze of the gods and your country’s stadium. The games were “a pole of attraction for Hellenism”*

Meanwhile, it was a men’s only event. Women, particularly married women could not view the athletes compete. Not gods, kings nor husbands want to suffer by comparison with the strapping young nude athletes.

The Phillippeion, a monument to Alexander the Great and his father, Phillip ll
The Phillippeion, a monument to Alexander the Great and his father, Phillip ll

There are 23 separate monuments, including temples on the site.  We wished we could see more and next time we would consider finding a guide.  To this day, we are inspired by the passion and commitment it takes to take part in the Olympics.

 

 

 

 

*Olympic site brochure