Olympia – bringing history to life

Today we were greeted with another beautiful day as we entered the port of Katakolon and home to only a few hundred people.

Why Katakolon.? Because it provides access to Olympia the birth place of the Olympics.

When we first looked at this stop we weren’t going to go to Olympia but we are glad we made the effort as it is a highlight of our trip.

There were so many myths and stories about so many aspects of the origins of the first games, the bringing together of the nations, the ceasing of hostilities during the games, and the games themselves that I just cant put them all down – that and I can’t remember them… I just know I was captivated.

One of the structures was a temple to Zeus which included a huge statue of Zeus (over 9 meters high). And while the statue is no longer around (the resaon we know about it was from detailed desciptions of it from the period), the east and west pediments that sat on top of the columns have largely been preserved.

And a reconstructed column and fallen column sections from Zeus’ temple

Interesting to note that the construction here was not made from marble but other stone which was then covered over for the appearance. And you can see shell fossils in these old stone columns.

The other interesting thing – I wondered how the parts connected, and essentially they were keyed with a square section connecting them and holding them in place.

The entrance to the stadium was essentially through a tunnel and the stadium where various events took place, such as running (up and back rather than around), discus, and javalin.

Spectators stood (stadium apparently is derived from standing) and only men could compete and only men could spectate.

This is the site where the Olympic torch has been lit for every games since 1936.

And a few other photos from the site.

And housed in a museum close to the site are many of the artifacts recovered from the site. It’s interesting looking at the reconstructions of how things would have looked like in the time based on small parts – to be an archeologist you must be good at jigsaw puzzles … and not always knowing what the end picture looks like.

This was a great tour and in the end we had to rush to get to our bus as we got absorbed in what we were seeing. Would have loved more time here.


Then it was back to Katakolon for a bit of shopping and lunch over looking the harbour. And a very nice view it was to!

And when in Greece what better salad to have than a Greek salad and how’s that for a piece of Feta!

And now we set sail back to Rome after our brief interlude with Greece. I’d love to get back someday to explore some more.

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