Nestled on a leafy plateau in Elis on the Peloponnese peninsula, lies Olympia, the site of the first Olympic games which date back to the 8th century B.C. An ancient sanctuary to the Greek god Zeus, the site is home to a breathtaking array of temples and ancient monuments every bit as impressive as the better-known archaeological sites of Athens and Delphi.
Strewn among mighty oak and gnarled olive trees, lies a forest of beautifully worked marble and limestone columns, some over 2 meters in diameter, which mark out the perimeter of temples, altars and shrines dating back to the classical period and before.
The modern day Olympic torch is still lit there, by capturing the sun’s rays in a parabolic mirror in front of the Temple of Hera, before making its journey to the games.
The real gem in Olympia however, despite its beauty and history, is surely its onsite archaeological museum, which is home to some of the most important works of antiquity. Here you will find the exquisite Hermes, by Praxiteles, perhaps the most important sculptor in history. Also to be found here is the helmet of Miltiades, the Athenian general credited with the success of the Greeks at the battle of Marathon.
Many travelers stop here on the way to the Ionian islands, via Kyllini port, or the many Peloponnesian gems further south. We’re happy to head here, relax and take it all in. No camera can really show what it feels like walking around these well-trodden paths. Open your heart and put away the technology for a moment or two. Olympia has many stories to share.