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"Many are the sights to be seen in Greece, and many are the wonders to be heard; but on nothing does Heaven bestow more care than on the Eleusinian rites and the Olympic games."

-Pausanias [5.10.1] -

Out of the depths of myth and prehistory rise the first groves and temples of Olympia. Here it is where Cronus ruled as the first king in heaven, and Heracles with his four brothers raced for the honor of newborn Zeus. Five they were in total and so Heracles established the custom of holding the Olympic games every fifth year. In a later age the gods would compete for Zeus as well, to celebrate his victory over Cronus. And after the deluge, men would come here too.

Pausanias tells us of Clymenus of Crete, of  king Pelops and his sons, of Augeas and Menelaus, the king of Homers' tales, who triumphed in the chariot races. At the twilight of recorded history it is said that Iphitus revived the festival, as the ancient traditions had long been forgotten by his time. 

It is with little doubt we can set the recorded beginning of the Olympic rites and games at 776 BC. Here the Greek - and later the Roman - world of antiquity would meet for over a millennia, to compete in peace and friendship. Later peoples would forget again and the old temples fell into decay, but like Iphitus, we revived them in 1896 and have carried the light of Olympia on since then. 


While the sport of the IPO is one of the mind, not of matter, we are nonetheless united by the same spirit which gathers us in Olympia this year.    

Our thanks to Progetto Traiano for sharing their digital reconstruction of the site of Ancient Olympia with us. Check them out here!  

Site of Ancient Olympia 

 - Plan of the sanctuary of Olympia -

  1. Northwest Propylon

  2. Prytaneion

  3. Philippeion

  4. Temple of Hera

  5. Pelopion

  6. Nymphaeum of Herodes Atticus

  7. Metroon

  8. Treasuries

  9. Crypt

  10. Stadium

  11. Echo Stoa

12. Building of Ptolemy II and Arsinoe II

13. Hestia stoa

14. Hellenistic building 

15. Temple of Zeus

16. Altar of Zeus

17. Ex-voto of Acheans

18. Ex-voto of Mikythos

19. Nike of Paeonius

20. Gymnasion

21. Palaestra

22. Theokoleon

23. Heroon

24. Pheidias' workshop

25. Baths of Kladeos

26. Greek baths

27. Hostels

28. Hostels

29. Leonidaion

30. South baths

31. Bouleuterion

32. South stoa

33. Villa of Nero

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