Ancient Greece Olympia – Birth of Olympic Games and more

Olympic Games Birth: Located in a valley in Elis in western Peloponnisos was the small city-state of Olympia. More than a town Olympia was just a collection or a sanctuary of buildings mostly associated with Gods. The Mycenaeans considered Olympia as a place of worship and hence they created many temples at this site.

Olympic Games Birth

The other thing for which Olympia is known the world over is the Olympic Games. Olympics in ancient Greece was held every 4 years and it started or Olympic Games Birth in 776 B.C. The festival lasted for five days and for that period a truce was observed by all Greece city-states so that people could easily travel to Olympia for the games.

Birthplace of the Olympic games

The Olympic Games gave an opportunity to people of different city-states to meet and other than games many political and social discussions were carried out. The games started with just a single event that of 600 foot long running race. The games were abolished in 394 B.C. by Emperor Theodosius I. There were many architectural marvels at the site of Olympia. Following are a few of them:

Temple of Zeus

Undoubtedly one of the most precious architectures of the ancient Greek era, the Temple of Zeus was built around the mid-fifth century B.C. It was a big temple decorated with many statues which also included the rich and glorious statue of Zeus. The statue was almost 40 feet in height and it was also named as one of the Seven Wonders of the World in ancient times. The winners of the Olympic Games were felicitated at the entrance of this temple in ancient times.

Temple of zeus

The Philippeion

Constructed of stone and marble, The Philippeion was a circular temple-like structure at Olympia which was started by Philip II and completed by his son Alexander the Great.

The Stadium

The stadium at Olympia underwent many changes over the years. The stadium had no seats but could accommodate around forty thousand spectators.

Ancient Stadium of Delphi

The Gymnasium

Build in the second century B.C., the gymnasium was a rectangular building with a courtyard within. It was more useful for athletes who required more space for training. Athletes who played javelin and discus throw would mostly use it for their practice sessions.

The Temple of Hera

The temple of Hera was built in the seventh century B.C., before the temple of Zeus was built and hence it had statues of both Zeus as well as Hera. It was a Doric styled temple built of wood but its pillars were later replaced with stone. Once the temple of Zeus was built, this became an exclusive temple of Hera.

Temple of Hera

Olympic Game vs Heraia Games

Other than the Olympic Games the other important event held at Olympia was the Heraia Games. Olympic Games were only for men while the Heraia Games were only for women. Olympic Games were held in honor of the God Zeus while Heraia Games were held in honor of Goddess Hera. Both games were held once in four years and the Eleans, who were the residents of Elis were responsible for organizing both events and they were also responsible for the maintenance of various sites at Olympia.

The site of Olympia was destroyed under the rule of Emperor Theodosius. Theodosius I abolished the Olympic Games while Theodosius II, 30 years later ordered to destroy the temples at Olympia. Many earthquakes, landslides, and floods eventually destroyed ancient Olympia.

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