Olympia 07-15-2004 22:02

Ancient Olympia

Olympia, the site of the Ancient Olympic Games, is in the western part of 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 BC. The central part of Olympia was dominated by the majestic temple of Zeus, while parallel to it, was the temple of Hera. The ancient Stadium in Olympia could accommodate more than 40,000 spectators, while in the surrounding area there were auxiliary buildings which developed gradually up to the 4th century BC and were used as training sites for the athletes or to house the judges of the Games.

Recent History of Olympia

The ancient site of Olympia, buried under river-silt until its rediscovery in 1766, wasn't a significant site for explorations and excavations until the early 1800's. Under the leadership of the German archaeologist, Ernst Curtius, the site revealed many treasures, including a splendid sculpture of Hermes retrieved from the temple of Hera. Some historians contend that Curtius, inspired by his marvellous findings at Olympia, made the initial suggestion to revive the ancient Olympic Games - an idea brought to fruition by Baron Pierre de Coubertin of France.

Today, the site hosts the Olympic Academy, a centre for the practical and theoretical study of the International Olympic Movement.

Editor:Wang Ping

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