Around this time, I'm at the halfway point of my Greece road trip with the next stop: Olympia! After my fantastic experience in Arachova and Delphi, I thought any Greek destination afterward would not compare. However, as the least athletic girl in the world, Olympia proved that I could get excited about sports and humbled me.
Join me as I take you through my road trip through Greece (in five parts):
- Meteora (with a bonus stop at Thermopylae)
- Delphi (with a bonus stop at Arachova)
Arriving at Olympia
I admit, when I arrived at Olympia, I didn't give it much thought or admiration. Instead, I was most excited about my best friend, who was stoked about this day. Delphi was my special day, and I knew Olympia would be hers. Name a sport, and not only will she play it, but she'll also rock it! Me? I'll volunteer to be the mascot or water girl, as I am lucky to walk and talk simultaneously.
Like many previous destinations, I only did a little research about the locations before my arrival (unlike me, BTW). When I arrived, I knew it "had something to do with the Olympic torch" and the Olympics. Although that's true, I can now fully see the spectrum of my ignorance.
Olympia is the ultimate center for athletes and a site of one of the Lost Wonders of the World: The Temple of Zeus.
Like other archaeological locations, you'll be funneled into a museum first upon arriving. Although you may feel like, "I've seen many museums, and they are all the same," I implore you not to have that attitude in Greece or anywhere abroad. It'll behoove you to get a sense of the history you are walking through, give you a sense of location, and further emphasizes the importance of being at the actual place where the item was recovered/discovered.
Holy Zeus, this museum blew my mind.
The Archaeological Museum of Olympia holds some incredible artifacts, including the Sanctuary of Zeus and the Olympic stadium. Olympia also showcases the helmet of the Ancient Greek Warrior Miltiades who won the Battle of Marathon.
If you don't know who he is, I can summarize him: A Certified Greek Badass.
First, the helmet of Miltiades is considered "one of the most important archeological finds in world history."
Lastly, evidence supports the theory that Miltiades offered his helmet to Zeus as an expression of gratitude for beating the Persians. Not only did Miltiades offer his helmet - with an inscription - dedicating his offering to Zeus, but he also offered a Persian helmet as depicted in the image above.
Temple of Zeus
To some readers, they may not seem important; many may be hearing the subconscious saying, "Yay...another Greek temple." However, this is not like any other Greek temple, but the temple.
The statue of Zeus was created by one of Greek's most significant sculptors, Philias. This statue was so most giant one that existed at the time sitting at 12 meters (4 feet) tall and was embellished in the rare materials of ivory and gold. According to my tour guide, it nearly touched the temple's ceiling.
Like many things in our history, it has been lost to time and wars. However, with the archaeological discoveries found in the workshop and the great literature that Greece is known for, historians have an accurate depiction of what the statue and Temple of Zeus looked like.
Olympia is the birthplace of the Olympic Games, which took place every four years from 776 BC to 393 BC, with approximately 20,0000 spectators gathering in the stadium.
Today, visitors can not only visit the stadium but step foot on the same track and partake in a race of their own.
Torch Lighting Ceremony
This is the site where the Olympic torch is lit. Here, the Head Priestess ignites the flame with a concave mirror and passes the flame to the first torchbearer. Then, the Torch Relay begins and ends in the hosting city.
At the time of this writing, the next torch lighting ceremony will be August 28th, 2024, when it ignites in Olympia for the Paralympic Games, ending in Paris.
Fun Facts About Olympia
- Several ruined buildings line the historical site more than the Temple of Zeus, Phiilias's workshop, and the stadium. It also holds thermal bathhouses, a training center for wrestlers, Roman hostels, and the Villa of Nero.
- The ancient stadium also used to host the Heraia Games for women, held in honor of the goddess Hera.
- The first marathon commemorated the run of the soldier Pheidippides from a battlefield near the town of Marathon, Greece, to Athens in 490 B.C. According to legend, Pheidippides ran the approximately 25 miles to announce the defeat of the Persians to some anxious Athenians where he delivered the message "Niki!" (Victory!) then keeled over and died.
Want to See More of Greece?
If you enjoyed the first part of my tour through Greece, follow me to read about the next (and final) destination: Nafplion. If you are more of a foodie, check out my previous article recommending what Greek Food to eat while in Greece! Or, check out Part 1, which talks about Athens, Part 2 about Meteora, or my previous article (Part 3) about Delphi!
Stay tuned for the final part of my Greek tour (Part 5) where I'll give you a tour of Nafplion.
Contributions to the Karma Jar are always appreciated as I save every penny, Euro, pound, and krona I can to put toward my next adventure to write about!
About the Creator
Blogger | Creative Writer | Traveler | Full-Time RVer
You can find all of my articles on my blog as well on Medium where I'm most active in Humor, Lifestyle, and Travel. I've self-published one fantasy fiction with the sequel in the works.
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