Places I’m Going: Olympia, Site of the Ancient Olympic Games

Olympia greece

The site of the ancient Olympics

One of the places we will tour during our September cruise on the Star Clipper is Olympia, Greece, site of the ancient Olympic Games. The games were held here from 776 BC until 393 AD. Today’s visitor find columns and other pieces of ancient structures.

Olympia is in the western part of the Peloponnese which, according to Greek mythology, is the island of “Pelops”, the founder of the Olympic Games. Imposing temples, votive buildings, elaborate shrines and ancient sporting facilities were combined in a site of unique natural and mystical beauty. Olympia functioned as a meeting place for worship and other religious and political practices as early as the 10th century B.C. The central part of Olympia was dominated by the majestic temple of Zeus, with the temple of Hera parallel to it. (from http://www.olympic.org/ancient-olympic-games where you will find other interesting information .)

There is a small museum at the site which holds a number of important relics. Nearby, the modern town of Olympia is well suited to cater to the visitors with some very nice hotels, a lot of restaurants and tourist shops, and some nice beaches within a half hour drive.

Katakalon is the port town near Olympia where we will dock. It’s located on the western edge of the Pelopennese peninsula. A tiny town, home to around 600 people, Katakalon claims to be the second busiest seaport in Greece. Perhaps our ship will pass by the old lighthouse that’s been warning mariners of the rocky shoreline here since 1865. Katakalon has been a railroad town since 1881.  Remnants of the old town can still be found in the old warehouse buildings along its back streets, some of which have been nicely restored to preserve the history of Katakolon Port. (Read more here: http://www.katakolon.org/)

In our time the flame of the modern-day Olympic Games is lit by reflection of sunlight in a parabolic mirror in front of the Temple of Hera which is then transported by a torch to the place where the games are held.

Resources:

From the official site of the Olympics: http://www.olympic.org/ancient-olympic-games

Some interesting historical resources are here: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/Olympics/sports.html and here: http://www.penn.museum/sites/olympics/olympicorigins.shtml

There’s a site with a gallery of photographs of this area here: http://www.olympia-greece.org/olympiagallery/index.php.  I hope the owners of that page don’t mind me borrowing the photo at the top of this page – I’ll replace it with one of my own soon.

About Libbie Griffin

For several months recently I've been traveling around Europe. Write to me at in.my.suitcase.too@gmail.com if you would like to receive a very short email each time I post new words and pictures here. I would love for you to tell your friends who love to travel about this blog. And I would be very happy to read about your experiences, your suggestions and your questions in the comments section. Let's make this blog a conversation! Thanks! Libbie Griffin
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