Olympia, Greece

Monday, September 19, 2016

After our stop in Albania, the ship set sail for Greece!
We woke up in the morning at the port town of Katakolo.

Love the flowers and colors.
The cruise had changed the length of our time in port practically overnight... so the only way we were going to have enough time to get to see ancient Olympia was by booking a shore excursion through Holland America. Coincidence? I doubt it... ANYWAY! We bit the bullet and did so. After docking at the port, we found our group and rode the bus about 40 minutes to Olympia.
Olympia was the "Mecca" of ancient Greek religion. It was the location of its greatest sanctuary and one of its most important places of worship. Ancient Greeks also came here every four years during the religious festival that featured the original Olympic Games.
The heart of the sanctuary was a walled-off rectangular area that housed two big temples, multiple altars, and the statues to the gods. 
It was also an area where athletes trained. In the Palaestra, the wrestling school, you can still see bathtubs where the athletes would wash off their oil coating after training.
Chris resting like the athletes used to in the Palaestra.
The Leonidaion was largely used as an ancient hotel for officials and bigwigs.
The workshop of Pheidias was where the great sculptor created the 40 foot tall statue of Zeus that once stood in the Temple. The workshop was built to the same dimensions as the temple so that Pheidias could create the statue with the setting in mind.
Pieces of the giant columns from the Temple of Zeus.
The center of ancient Olympia was the massive temple dedicated to Zeus. It was the first of the Golden Age temples and the purest example of the Doric style. Built in the fifth century B.C., it stood for a thousand years and then crumbled into the evocative pile of ruins that we see today. 
Details from the area
The Temple of Hera is the oldest structure on the site and is one of Greece's first monumental temples. It was a long, short structure which gave it an intimate feel where inside stood a large statue of Hera.
All over the area were temples, alters, and other more functional buildings. 
The Nymphaeum was once a spectacular curved fountain lined with two tiers of statues of emperors. The fountain was both an oasis in the heat and an aqueduct that funneled water throughout the sanctuary.
Lining the walkway towards the stadium is the Bases of Zanes. These 16 pedestals held bronze statues of Zeus that were paid for by fines levied on cheaters whose names and ill deeds were inscribed on the bases.
I have to say it... IT'S ALL GREEK TO ME!! :) :) :)
As people entered the stadium they'd spit on the statues. 
Then we walked into the stadium itself! So cool.
The stadium, built in the 6th century B.C., held no seats except for those for the judges.
The stadium track is 600 traditional Olympic feet (192 meters) long from start to finish. The racers ran straight up and back on a clay surface rather than around in a circle like they do today. 
Chris running in the original Olympics:
Jane running in the original Olympics:
Fox running in the original Olympics:
There were 20 starting blocks, all of which are still visible today, with two grooves. One for each foot. It was so fun lining up at the same place they did thousands of years ago and running in the original Olympic stadium.
After exploring the original site, we walked across the way to the Olympia Archeological Museum. The statues from the pediment of the Temple of Zeus are displayed here.
The two facades, east and west, depict stories from Greek history and mythology.
The Nike of Paeonius from 421 B.C. once stood atop a huge pedestal next to the temple of Zeus. Under this statue was where the winners received their wreath of olive branches. 
Also on display was the helmet of Miltiades, a Greek general who routed the Persians with a bold surprise attack. After this victory, a messenger carried the news to Athens by running the 26.219 miles from Marathon (the site of the battle). He announced the news and then dropped dead on the spot. This legend inspired the modern 26.219 mile race called a marathon. Fascinating! You learn something new every day :)
The helmet is inscribed with Miltiades name.
Pieces of hair from various sculptures.
The Hermes of Praxiteles | Roman era portrait sculpture.
Color and pattern love.
After the museum we had a few minutes to shop or grab a snack and then we loaded back onto the bus for the ride back to Katakolo.
Our family in Olympia, Greece on Thursday August 25th 2016. 

Next: a quick visit to the port city of Katakolo, Greece.


  1. I thought this was a super fun stop! It was really cool to "run in the Olympics" at the original stadium!

  2. How fun!!! Loving all the photos and loving how the three of them ran the track!!!!


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