There is no other ancient site that has more relevance on today’s world than Olympia.
History of Olympia
Olympia was the most important religious and athletic centre in Greece, and as such, it must be included in everybody’s itinerary. There are amusing myths and stories about ancient Olympia and the Olympic Games that your tour guide will talk about.
* The four Pan-Hellenic Games. The Games at Olympia was one of them. The other 3 were, the Isthmian, the Pythian and the Nemean Games.
* Olympia was not a city as such. It was the sanctuary, the stadium, the sports facilities, the VIP hostel, and the administration buildings,
* The city responsible for the organization of the ancient Olympic Games that took place at Olympia was ILIS, +/- 30kms from Olympia,
* The huge temple of Zeus, that housed one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world, the statue of the god, made by the sculptor Pheidias.
* The structures in the “sacred” sanctuary were made and dedicated to the gods, except the Philippeion and the villa of emperor Nero.
* The Zannes, being the statues of the cheaters. (Emperor Nero was the biggest cheater of the ancient Olympic Games).
* The amazing organization of the ancient Olympic Games, similar and even better than today’s organization.
* The females had their own Games, the Heraia Games that were organized in favour of goddess Hera.
* The story of Kallipateira, the mother that disguised as a man watched her son competing and winning in the Games.
* The story of Kyniska, the cheeky Spartan princess, a chariot owner, that became the first female Olympic winner.
* The lighting of the Olympic flame and the torch relay is celebrated every year (summer, winter, youth Olympics, etc).
* Following the Baron’s last wish, his heart was buried at Olympia. It is at the base of the monument in the I.O.A. grounds.
* The emblems (the five Olympic rings) of the modern Olympic Games, revived by Baron Pierre De Coubertin.
The ancient Olympic Games started about 3000 years ago, when Hippodameia, daughter of the local King, Oinonaos, married Pelops, who decided to name the whole peninsula after his name and called it Peloponessus (= Pelop’s island). However only in 776 BC the first Olympic Games’ win was recorded, and that year marks the first Olympiad. Since then, every four years the Olympic Games were held attracting athletes of Greek origin from all the Greek city states. At Olympia, the victors’ prize was an olive branch wreath. A month before the opening ceremony, until a month after the closing day of the games, the Olympic truce was in effect and all hostilities were suspended, for the spectators to visit Olympia and return safely from Olympia to their city states.
Itinerary & Prices
The only way to visit Olympia in a day trip is by hiring a self-driven car or hiring a taxi, or, taking our private day trip, preferably with the extra expense of a local guide.
– Starting from your hotel at 06.45am, we stop at Corinth canal for a short photo-stop, and arrive at Olympia at 10.45am.
– Meet the tour guide (recommended) and spend 3 hours with her, visiting the archaeological museum, and the ancient site. (The suggested guided tour is longer than any other guided tour, but it’s the size and the history of Olympia that makes it long).
– When you finish with the sightseeing, relax having lunch in the peaceful setting of the modern Olympia town, and
– At +/- 16.00 start the return trip and arrive in Athens before 20.00. An enjoyable and memorable full day tour.
In the video Prof. Hale speaks about the sanctuary and the history of Olympia. An excellent presentation.
Olympia cannot be visited as a day trip organized on a tour bus. It is outside the mileage and working hours of a bus driver and the only way to visit it in a day trip is by hiring a self-driven car or a taxi, or by taking our private day trip.
There are a lot of amusing myths and interesting stories about ancient Olympia and the Olympic Games that the tour guide will talk about.
Ancient Olympia is a UNESCO site that must be included in everybody’s itinerary.