"O /\ Y M TT I A" Olympia by grkboiler

Olympia Travel Guide: 179 reviews and 590 photos

Yes! There IS a modern Olympia! But I'm not here to talk about that. People don't travel all the way to Olympia to see a couple of crappy souvenir shops and overpriced restaurants.

The real attraction is one of the most sacred sites in the entire world and the birthplace of the Olympic Games. The 1st official games took place in 776 BC in honor of the almighty Zeus, but athletic events had been held in Olympia for centuries before that.

The games were once open only to Greek citizens, but would later include Romans (do you think world domination had any say in it?). They continued uninterrupted up until 394 when Emperor Theodosius I banned the games for being a pagan ritual. Theodosius II then had the temples of Olympia destroyed in 426, with no appreciation for history or culture. Not much is well preserved, but this lets your imagination run wild while you walk through the ruins.

French archaeologists began excavations of the site in 1829. Many artifacts were looted and taken to the Louvre, where they are still on display. Excavation was later continued by the Germans 45 years later and is continued to this day by the German Institute of Archaeology in Athens, and the Ephorate of Antiquities in Olympia.

The modern games began in 1896 in Athens, and have been held every 4 years in different cities throughout the world except during WWI and WWII. They returned to their ancestral home of Greece in 2004 in one of the proudest moments in all of Greek history. I can't explain what it meant to Greeks around the world, and to watch the Opening Ceremonies in a room full of other Greeks - there was not one dry eye in the house. It was a moment of victory, unity, and pride. I hope to see the Olympic Games in Greece once more in my lifetime.

One last thing you should know is that Ancient Olympia was not a city. It was a sanctuary and place of sport.

I have been to Olympia twice - once in 1994 and again in 1996. I am combining pictures from both trips in this page.

Now, I understand its been a few years since I last set foot there, but honestly, I don't think much has changed. I have to admit it is tough to remember what is in each picture but I will try to explain as best I can. Hopefully if I return to Greece anytime soon I will make another stop in Olympia.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Sacred site, very interesting to walk through the ruins
  • Cons:It can get HOT!
  • In a nutshell:Go there and walk out onto the track for the 1st time, then come back and tell me how it felt...
  • Last visit to Olympia: Jul 1996
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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