Just walking by the streets of Olympia is a wonderful experience. I had listened so much about Olympia and its history that I imagined a city. Well, Olympia is just a small town, no more than 15 blocks lenght in middle of beautiful hills.
Take a time to walk by the main street, enjoy the shops, talking with people. I found the people very gentle, more friendly than in Athens or the islands. You can breath peace there.
The site of the ancient sanctuary, long forgotten under landslips and flood siltation, was identified in 1766. The exact site was re-discovered by the English antiquarian Richard Chandler.
The first excavation of the sanctuary at Olympia was not carried out until 1829, by the French "Expedition Scientifique de Moree". The expedition spent six weeks. Abel Blouet and Dubois undertook the first excavations there. The site was divided into squares and excavations were undertaken in straight lines: archaeology was becoming rationalized, and it was in this way that the location of the temple of Zeus was determined. The simple chase after treasure was beginning to be abandoned. The French team partially excavated the Temple of Zeus, taking several fragments of the pediments to the Musée du Louvre.
Systematic excavation began in 1875, under the direction the German Archaeological Institute, and has continued, with some interruptions, to the present time.
The first major excavation of Olympia began in 1875, funded by the German government after negotiation of exclusive access by Ernst Curtius. The central part of the sanctuary was excavated including the Temple of Zeus, Temple of Hera, Metroon, Bouleuterion, Philipeion, Echo Stoa, Treasuries and Palaestra. Important finds included sculptures from the Temple of Zeus, the Nike of Paeonius, the Hermes of Praxiteles and many bronzes. In total 14,000 objects were recorded. The finds were displayed in a museum on the site.
In 1900-1950 excavation was continued in a more limited way by Dörpfeld between 1908 and 1929 but a new systematic excavation was begun in 1936 on the occasion of the Summer Olympics in Berlin under Emil Kunze and Hans Schleif. Their excavation focus was on the area to the south of the stadium, the South stoa, bath complex and gymnasion.
Pheidias' workshop, the Leonidaion and the north wall of the stadium were excavated in the end of the XXth.
At the western end of the Kyllini peninsula, between Loutra Killinis and Hlemoutsi stands on top of the Helonatas hill a huge Kastro (fortress). It is a Frank fortress that was built by a crusader, Geoffroy II de Villehardouin from 1220 o 1224 under the name of Château de Clermont. The Hlemoutsi fort is considered as the best kept of the many Frank catles built in the Peloponese.
We did not visit but we should have. From its terraces, the view on Zante (Zakinthos) is stunning.
First sight I saw when woke up and looked out of my hotel window was this beautiful Church standing at the main square of Modern Olympia. I walked around it before breakfast and enjoyed wonderful palms and roses in a park.
You may watch my high resolution photos of Olympia on the Google Earth according to the following coordinates 37º 38' 45.79" N 21º 37' 30.50" E or on my Google Earth Panoramio Olympia Orthodox Church and Olympia Orthodox Church and a rose.
Column on Temple of Zeus in Ancient Olympia
Doric peripheral temple with 6 columns in front and 13 columns along the side, the Temple of Zeus measuries 64.12m x 27.66m. It was designed by Libon, an architect from Eleia, and built between 470 and 456 BCE using spoils from the 472 BCE war between Eleia and Pisa (which had resulted in Pisa's destruction). The Temple of Zeus was further built on a raised platform, giving it a commanding presence for the entire city.