"Where Olympism was born, 2800 years ago" Top 5 Page for this destination Olympia by rafscab

Olympia Travel Guide: 175 reviews and 569 photos

It's more than Games, it's a philosophy

The Olympic Games began in the 776 A.D. and remained unstopable until the 4th century of our era when cristianism declared them a pagan celebration.

During that period, every four years Olympia was a place of celebration. Athletes from every corner of Greece went there to compete in the sacred games and the Olympic Truce allowed them to travel all over Greece safely.

After the 4th century Olympia was forgotten and was subsequently plundered and destroyed by earthquakes.

One of the 7 wonders of the ancient times was here: The Zeus sculpture, 13 meters tall made of Ivory and gold. Today there are only remains of the temple.

The legacy of Ancient Greece

Extracted from http://www.ioa.org.gr/the_legacy.htm

The roots of the Olympic Spirit can be found in the ancient Greek civilization. In Ancient Greece, sport was part of man's overall education which cultivated in a balanced and harmonious way his intellectual, mental and physical faculties.

The Olympic Games were held from 776 B.C. to 394 A.D. every four years in Olympia.

They formed an integral part of a way of life, a cultural experience. Their significance compared to the other panhellenic meetings and contests between city states was so great that the four-year period between the games was called an Olympiad and served as a chronological method. During that period, the youth prepared themselves physically, morally and spiritually so as to reach the crest of their abilities at the epitome of the Olympiad, the Olympic Games.

The palestras and gymnasia, which were both sports and educational facilities, were to be found in every city, next to the temples and market places. Socrates, Aristotle and many of the famous philosophers of ancient Greece taught in the gymnasia, while Plato was himself an eminent athlete. The process of education continued after puberty, contributing to the learning of citizens and the life-long development of their mind.

Young people were taught arts, philosophy and music; at the same time they exercised their body in pursuit of the ideal of "kalokagathia", virtue and beauty. In a similar way they cultivated the spirit of fair competition and sportsmanship, while seeking to achieve harmony in everything.

In accordance with tradition, the origins of sport and the Olympic games in particular are to be found in prehistoric times. The gods and heroes of Greek mythology were the first to take part in contests, becoming role models for all Greeks.

The conquest of victory at the Olympic Games was the highest honor for athletes and their city.

Olympic victors were considered heroes. The cities tore down their walls when the Olympic victors returned to their homeland, to show how secure they felt to have among their citizens Olympic winners whose feats were extolled in poems and sculptures.

More than 40,000 people, athletes, philosophers, politicians, artists, poets, and other pilgrims travelled from all over the Greek world to Olympia to watch the Games.

The protection of athletes and spectators during their hard journey was guaranteed by the holy truce when all hostilities and warfare ceased.

Olympia, as a neutral and sacred place, was able to promote in a unique way, beyond the trivia of everyday life, the ideals of peace, freedom, equality and mutual respect.

The thinkers of the Enlightenment looked to the ancient Greek spirit for inspiration and guidance.

It was this civilization, as it was expressed through the Olympic Games, that Baron Pierre de Coubertin and those who before and after him contributed to the realization of this unique vision, fostered by educational pursuits, wanted to revive.

The International Olympic Academy

Extracted from www.ioa.org.gr

In 1927, Pierre de Coubertin was invited by the Greek government to Olympia, to attend the unveiling of a commemorative stele created in order to honour his actions to revive the Olympic Games. During his stay in Greece, he discussed the need for an academic centre for the study of the Olympic Movement and its trends.

Coubertin believed that the Olympic Movement should not deviate from its educational objectives and had written: I have not been able to carry out to the end what I wanted to perfect. I believe that a centre of Olympic studies would aid the preservation and progress of my work more than anything else, and would keep it from the false paths which I fear.

Coubertin's ideas were in accord with the aims of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, which wanted to set up an academic centre modelled after the ancient Gymnasium, to laydown the foundations for the educational value of sport by carrying out studies and organising classical games. The sudden deaths of Chrysafis (1930) and Coubertin (1937) prevented them from implementing their ideas.

One year after Coubertin's death and following his own wish, his heart was placed inside the commemorative stele in Ancient Olympia. This rekindled the idea for the establishment of a centre for the Olympic Games in Ancient Olympia.

The project was taken up by Ioannis Ketseas, a student of Chrysafis at the National Gymnastics Club and Secretary of the Hellenic Olympic Committee and the German Carl Diem, a close associate of Coubertin devoted to the Olympic Movement and education.

Diem and Ketseas, who had worked together for the first Torch Relay from Olympia to Berlin in 1936, decided to work toward the realisation of a Centre for Olympic Studies.

The International Olympic Academy was officially inaugurated on the 14th of June 1961, and the proceedings of the first Session were headed by Cleanthis Paleologos, Director of the Physical Education Department of the University of Athens, and the German Professor Lotz.

During its first decade of operation, the activities of the IOA were limited to the International Session for Young Participants. From 1970, the IOA progressively implemented additional educational programmes devoted to the issues of the Olympic Movement.

Today, some 40 different events take place every year on the premises of the IOA in Ancient Olympia. Until 1966, participants lived in tents, and the Sessions were held under the pine trees. The first buildings were completed in 1967, and they have gradually been added to with sports facilities and new buildings. The new conference centre was completed in 1994, bringing state of the art facilities to the service of the participants.

In recognition of its contribution to the humanistic aim it serves and to the development of the Olympic Move-ment, the IOA was awarded the Bonacosa Award in 1961 and 1970, and the Olympic Cup in 1981.

The IOA constitutes the intellectual expression of the Olympic Movement,
which represents one of the finest aspects of the universal intellectual tradition.

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  • In a nutshell:Citius, Altius, Fortius
  • Last visit to Olympia: Jun 2006
  • Intro Updated Sep 8, 2006
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Comments (7)

  • SLLiew's Profile Photo
    Jan 9, 2008 at 7:49 AM

    I will be at Beijing 2008 Olympics Opening Ceremony. Great to see the origin of Olympics at least virtually to appreciate this great tradition of sports. Thanks for sharing. Cheers, SL :)

  • RafaelTheSecond's Profile Photo
    Oct 17, 2007 at 4:46 PM

    Heheheh I would love to visit Greece...Every step you make you step on History!:)

  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo
    Jul 31, 2007 at 6:13 PM

    great page!

  • bpacker's Profile Photo
    Dec 6, 2006 at 2:21 AM

    This is the MECCA for atheletes. Thanks for sharing that Women had their own sports too:)

  • sprdak11's Profile Photo
    Oct 15, 2006 at 4:33 AM

    Interesting travel page about Greece. Best wishes.

  • TheWanderingCamel's Profile Photo
    Sep 8, 2006 at 4:42 PM

    I think the gods were angry with us when we visited Olympus - the rain was unbelievable. We didn't see much. I've seen more here! Nice page - good to see it finished. leyle

  • Sep 8, 2006 at 10:44 AM

    Great tips. Another good thing about the Olympic Games museum is the strong airconditioning which saved lives during the hottest days in Olympia. Admission is free. :D

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