The city of Olympia is extremely popular for hosting the Olympic Games. In fact, Ancient Greek Olympia is truly the birthplace of the Olympic Games as it owes its inception to this city. Apart from this, this place is also known as the sacred place of Zeus as well.

Ancient Olympia

Ancient Greek Olympia: Myths

The reason for the inception of Olympic Games is based on several myths. For instance, it was believed that Zeus fought with his own father and defeated him and took over the throne and it was a remembrance of that victory that he started these Games.

Another myth was that there were five brothers that brought up Jesus on Crete that had, in fact, started them. They raced in Olympia and the eldest brother, Heracles, was crowned the winner with an olive wreath.

By the very beginning of the 2nd Millennium BC, Olympia was certainly populated. Though as per the traditions, Olympic Games were held in the year 776 BC, it was started way before that. Primarily, these games were a treaty between Sparta and Elis.


Ancient Greek Olympia: History

Initially, the truce lasted only for the month during which the games were played. However, since many countries participated and people from different places came over, this period came to be extended to three months.

The purpose of hosting these games was multi-role. Apart from hosting games, this was the only time when the kings and rulers came to watch the games unarmed. As a result of this, extensive deliberations on politics and trade were carried on. Additionally, these games also invoked a feeling of unity among the Greeks.


In the 2nd century BC, Romans invaded as well as conquered Greece and took along with them large quantities of treasures from Olympia. Severe efforts were taken by Sulla to relocate the Olympic Games to Rome, but they didn’t materialize. But during this time, the Games had lost its meaning and equaled to a mere show.

In the 6th century, the whole city of Olympia came to be damaged because of a huge flood thereby destroying a large number of buildings. Large amounts of mud from the flooded rivers of Kladeos and Alfeos filled up the entire Olympia.


Modern Games In Greek Olympia

In 1776, the sanctuary was discovered and in 1829, French archaeologists started excavating this site. In the modern times, the Olympic Games commenced from the year 1896. The irony of the situation is that, while the ancient games stopped wars; the modern games have been stopped by wars.

Right opposite to the archaeological site lies the museum. This museum consists of a big model depicting as to how Olympia would look today. Artworks include sculptures of various well-known artists. In addition to this, the museum also boasts of actual from actual games like things which the athletes would use to clean themselves etc.

Tourists who want to discover Olympia can take advantage of the day tours so arranged for them by various holiday resorts. They can also take a bus from Athens apart from Kalamata and Kyllini. Olympia also offers hotels and rooms which were at a walking distance from the Olympia site.