HISTORY
DESCRIPTION
SITE MONUMENTS
THE MUSEUM
INFORMATION
PHOTOGALLERY
 
   
 
© Ministry of Culture and Sports
View of Zeus temple  
Temple of Zeus at Olympia
The massive temple of Zeus, the most important building in the Altis, standing in its very centre, is the largest temple in the Peloponnese, considered by many to be the perfect example of Doric architecture. It was built by the Eleans from the spoils of the Triphylian war and dedicated to Zeus. Construction began c. 470 and was completed before 456 BC, when an inscribed block was let into the east gable to support a gold shield dedicated by the Spartans in commemoration of their victory at Tanagra. ...
 
 
© Ministry of Culture and Sports
East view of Hera temple  
Temple of Çera at Olympia
The temple of Hera, one of the oldest monumental temples in Greece, stands in the north-west corner of the sacred precinct of the Altis, on the south slopes of Kronios hill, protected by a powerful terrace wall. It was dedicated to the Olympian sanctuary by the inhabitants of Skillous, an ancient city of Eleia. Pausanias relates that the temple was built approximately eight years after Oxylos ascended to the throne of Elis, that is c. 1096 BC, but in reality it is much later. According to some scholars, ...
 
 
© Ministry of Culture and Sports
South west view of Bouleuterion with the oblong apsidal buildings  
Bouleuterion of Olympia
The bouleuterion, or Council House, one of the most ancient and important buildings of the sanctuary of Olympia, was the seat both of the Elean Senate, whose members were responsible for the organisation of the games, and possibly of the hellanodikai, or umpires. This is where the athletes registered and drew lots, and where their names and the program of events were announced. It was also where any offences and pleas were tried, and where penalties were decided. Situated south of the temple of Zeus, ...
 
 
© Ministry of Culture and Sports
View of Prytaneion  
Prytaneion of Olympia
The Prytaneion, one of the oldest and most important buildings at Olympia, was the administrative centre of the sanctuary's political life and of the Olympic Games. It was the seat of the magistrates, the high officials who oversaw the sacrifices performed monthly to honour the gods; Pausanias (V, 15, 8) refers to it as the 'Prytaneion of the Eleans'. The Prytaneion occupied the north-west corner of the sacred enclosure, directly opposite the gymnasium. It dates in some form to the late sixth or ...
 
 
© Ministry of Culture and Sports
West view of Stadium  
Ancient stadium of Olympia
The stadium of Olympia, situated east of the sacred Altis enclosure, was where the ancient Olympic Games and the Heraia, the women's games in honour of Hera, were held. Before the sixth century BC the running events were held on a flat area along the treasuries' terrace, east of the great altar of Zeus. A first stadium (Stadium I) was formed in the Archaic period (mid sixth century BC) by leveling the area south of the Kronios hill inside the Altis. The west short side of the stadium faced the altar ...
 
 
© Ministry of Culture and Sports
East view of Gymnasium  
Ancient gymnasium of Olympia
The ancient gymnasium of Olympia lies north-west of the Altis enclosure on a flat stretch of land by the Kladeos river bank. It is adjacent to the palaestra, which extends the gymnasium complex towards the south. Here athletes practiced track and field and the pentathlon. Before the construction of the gymnasium in the Hellenistic period, these events took place outdoors. The surviving structure dates to the second century BC.
The gymnasium is a large quadrangular building, with central court ...
 
 
© Ministry of Culture and Sports
The doric colonnade of Palaestra  
Palaestra of Olympia
The palaestra is situated west of the Altis enclosure, near the Kladeos river. Built in the third century BC as part of the gymnasium complex, it was used to practice boxing, wrestling and jumping.
This almost square building (66.35 x 66.75 metres) stands 0.70 metres lower than the gymnasium. At its centre was an open court, forty one metres square, surrounded by a Doric colonnade of 72 columns and laid with fine sand on which the athletes trained. The columns and lower courses of the walls were ...
 
 
© Ministry of Culture and Sports
View of Leonidaion  
Leonidaion
The Leonidaion, situated at the south-west corner of the sanctuary, outside the sacred precinct of the Altis, was a large and luxurious hostel for distinguished visitors to the Olympic Games. It was built in approximately 330 BC and was remodeled twice in Roman times. A dedicatory inscription partially preserved on the epistyle of the outer Ionic stoa records that the building was erected by Leonidas son of Leotas from Naxos, who was both architect and benefactor. His statue stood at the north east ...
 
 
© Ministry of Culture and Sports
External view of Pheidias workshop  
Workshop of Pheidias
West of the sacred enclosure, directly opposite the temple of Zeus, was the workshop of Pheidias where the great sculptor crafted the gigantic chryselephantine statue of Zeus, listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. The building was erected in the second half of the fifth century, when Pheidias, after completing the sculptures for the Athenian Acropolis, went to Olympia to work on the statue of Zeus. Excavation finds and pottery date it precisely to 430-420 BC. Later the workshop ...
 
 
© Ministry of Culture and Sports
View of Theokoleon  
Theokoleon
West of the sacred enclosure and north of the workshop of Pheidias lies the Theokoleon. This was the seat of the theokoloi, the priests of Olympia, but also the residence of the sanctuary staff, which included soothsayers, interpreters, bearers of sacrificial animals, musicians and a woodmonger who provided the wood used in sacrifices.
The original structure dates to the mid-fifth century BC, but was later remodeled and enlarged more than once. It consisted of eight rooms round a central court ...
 
 
© Ministry of Culture and Sports
General view of Zanes pedestals  
Zanes
Immediately outside the Krypte, the entrance to the stadium and along the treasury terrace is a row of sixteen pedestals, which supported the Zanes. These were bronze statues of Zeus, none of which has survived, created from the fines imposed on athletes for cheating at the Olympic Games. Their prominent position was intended to dissuade other athletes from cheating. According to Pausanias (V, 21, 2-18), the first of the Zanes were erected after the ninety-eighth Olympiad in 388 BC, when Eupolos ...
 
 
© Ministry of Culture and Sports
View of Philippeion  
Philippeion
The Philippieion, the only circular building inside the Altis, is one of the finest examples of ancient Greek architecture. Located west of the temple of Hera, it was dedicated to Zeus by Philip II of Macedon after his victory at Chaironeia in 338 BC, proving the important political role of the sanctuary at that time. After Philip's death in 336 BC, the monument was completed by his son, Alexander the Great, who had the statues of his family crafted by the famous sculptor Leochares, placed inside. ...
 
 
© German Archaeological Institute
Plan of Echo hall  
Echo hall
 
 
The monument of the Prolemaic dynasty  
Monument of the Ptolemaic dynasty
 
 
© German Archaeological Institute
Plan of Metroon  
The Metroon
The Metro?n, dedicated to the mother of the gods, Rhea, later re-named Cybele, stood east of the Heraion, below the terrace of the treasuries. This site was used for the worship of Mother Earth, to whom the sanctuary of Gaia was dedicated, and of Eileithyia, a similar deity connected to maternity, as early as the Prehistoric period.
Built in the early fourth century BC, the Metro?n was a small peripteral hexastyle Doric temple with eleven columns at the sides. The columns, 4.63 metres high and ...
 
 
© German Archaeological Institute
Plan of South-east building  
South-east building at Olympia
The so-called south-east building, probably a shrine of the goddess Hestia, formed the south-east limit of the Altis enclosure together with the Echo-hall, which was built to its north in the fifth century BC. Raised in the first half of the fifth century BC, the south-east building continued to function until the first century BC, when it was demolished to make way for new buildings. When Pausanias visited Olympia in the second century AD, the shrine was no longer visible as it had been replaced ...
 
 
 
Altar of Zeus at Olympia
East of the Heraion and Pelopion stood the great altar of Zeus. No trace of it has survived, but the large quantities of ash and bronze votives discovered inside the Pelopion may come from this altar. According to myth, Zeus himself indicated the building spot of his altar by striking the ground with a thunderbolt. The altar was destroyed under Theodosius I, who abolished the Olympic Games, and under his grandson, Theodosius II.
Pausanias, who saw the impressive altar in the second century AD, ...
 
 
 
Altar of Hera at Olympia
East of the Heraion, directly in front of the temple, are the foundations of the altar of Hera. This small oblong structure of poros, 5.80 metres long and 3.50 metres wide, was probably built like the temple in the sixth century BC to replace an earlier altar formed by the ashes of the sacrificed animals.
The Olympic flame of the modern Olympic games is lit on this very altar. The ceremony was first held for the 1936 Berlin Olympic games and has been repeated ever since for each Olympiad.
 
 
 
Pedestal of the Nike of Paionios
Hundreds of statue bases, many of which are inscribed, are scattered throughout the Altis. Situated approximately thirty metres east of the temple of Zeus is a most important example of these, the massive pedestal of the Nike of Paionios, the remarkable Classical statue. The votive Doric inscription on the base records that the Messenians and the Naupaktians dedicated the statue to Olympian Zeus after their victory against the Lacedaemonians in the Archidamian war (approximately 421 BC), and that ...
 
 
© Ministry of Culture and Sports
Prehistoric building  
Prehistoric building at Olympia
In the Prehistoric period, Kronos, Rhea, Gaia, Themis, Eileithyia, Hercules Idaios and other deities were venerated at the foot of the Kronios hill, at the very site occupied by the Altis in later times. Here excavations revealed a primitive sanctuary and possibly a settlement of the Early Helladic III period (2300-2000 BC); the site was continuously occupied until the Late Helladic III period (1600-1100 BC).
Several prehistoric buildings in the area of the Heraion have been investigated and ...
 
 
© Ministry of Culture and Sports
Pelopio  
Pelopion
South of the Heraion was the Pelopion, a funerary monument (cenotaph) dedicated to Pelops, a much venerated Elean hero. According to Pausanias (V, 13, 1) this monument was dedicated by Hercules, a descendant of Pelops. Beneath the Pelopion lies a prehistoric tumulus (Early Helladic, approximately 2500 BC) and its enclosure. The earliest structure inside the Altis, its top was still visible in the Classical period.
In the sixth century BC the Pelopion consisted of a small eminence, two metres ...
 
 
© German Archaeological Institute
Plan of Nymphaeon  
Nymphaeon of Olympia
The spring, also known as the Exedra of Herodes Atticus, one of the most opulent and impressive constructions inside the Altis, was situated between the temple of Hera and the treasury terrace. It stood at the end of a much-needed supply of pure drinking water brought to Olympia in AD 160 from springs east of the sanctuary and distributed by a dense network of pipes. Prior to that, water came from wells and was in short supply, especially during the Olympic Games when thousands of visitors flooded ...
 
 
© German Archaeological Institute
Plan of South Stoa  
South hall at Olympia
The south hall was both the southern limit of the sanctuary of Olympia and its main entrance from the south. Situated outside the Altis enclosure, south of the bouleuterion, it was built at the same time as the Echo hall c. 360-350 BC, and remained in use for many centuries.
The hall, eighty metres long and thirteen and a half metres wide, was built of shell-limestone and raised on a marble platform. Facing south towards the Alpheios river, it had thirty-four Doric columns along the front and ...
 
 
© German Archaeological Institute
Plan of Nero House  
House of Nero
This large structure, situated at the south-west corner of the Altis, was built over the Classical sanctuary of Hestia and other buildings demolished for this purpose. A lead water-pipe inscribed NER. AVG. and other indications, support the identification of the building as the House of Nero, built in AD 65-67 for the emperor's visit to the Olympic Games of AD 67, in which he participated. The building was remodeled and enlarged several times until the fourth century AD.
This opulent residence ...
 
 
© German Archaeological Institute
Plan of the Greek Baths, where the four construction stages are depicted  
Baths
The earliest baths of the sanctuary are situated near the bank of the Kladeos river. They were named Greek baths so as to be distinguished from the baths of the Roman period. The original structure, which dates to the fifth century BC, was gradually remodeled and enlarged. The Greek baths were probably abandoned in the Roman period when several other bath complexes were built inside the sanctuary.
The original baths built before 450 BC consisted of a simple oblong room (Area I), twenty metres ...
 
 
 
Heroon of Olympia
West of the Altis, between the Theokoleon and the Greek baths, lies the hero?n. Built in the second half of the fifth century BC as the sweat room (ephidroterion) of the baths, it became a hero?n, or monument to a hero, in the Hellenistic and Roman periods.
The hero?n was a small square building consisting of two rooms and an oblong portico, 5.10 metres wide. The north room enclosed a circular structure, c. eight metres in diameter. Both north and south rooms were entered from the west through ...
 
 
© German Archaeological Institute
Plan of the Roman Hostels  
Hostels of Olympia
The Roman hostels are located outside the sacred enclosure of the Altis, west of the workshop of Pheidias and very near the Roman baths of Kladeos, the construction of which is probably related to that of the hostels. The complex was built in approximately 170 BC to meet the demands of the swelling numbers of visitors to Olympia during the games. It was part of a large building program which included the remodeling of several buildings inside the Altis and the construction of others of more Roman ...
 
 
© German Archaeological Institute
Plan of Leonidaion baths  
Leonidaion baths
The so-called Leonidaion baths, situated outside the south-west corner of the Altis, owe their name to the nearby guesthouse (though the two buildings were not related). This well-preserved monument is unique in Olympia in that it preserves its original height and roof. Built in the third century AD, it remained in use until the sixth century and was remodeled several times.
The baths were part of an extensive building complex, now largely destroyed, which lay north of the baths and west of ...
 
 
© German Archaeological Institute
Plan of Kladeos baths, where the mosaic floors are depicted  
Kladeos baths
The so-called Kladeos baths are situated near the bank of the Kladeos, at the western limit of the Olympian sanctuary, on the site of the swimming pool of the fifth century BC Greek baths. They were built in the Roman period, approximately AD 100, in connection with the nearby Roman guesthouse to the south.
The Kladeos baths, which cover roughly four hundred square metres in surface area, consisted of several rooms with vaulted clay ceilings, polychrome marble revetment and remarkable floor mosaics. ...
 
 
© German Archaeological Institute
Plan of Kronios baths  
Kronios baths
The so-called Kronios, or north baths, lie to the north of the Prytaneion, near the foot of Kronios hill. The building was raised in Imperial times over a Hellenistic building and baths, was remodeled several times since and remained in use until the fifth to sixth centuries AD. A small bath complex was added to its north-east side during this last period.
This complex comprised a central peristyle court surrounded by many rooms. The court had a beautiful mosaic floor with marine themes. A Nereid ...
 
 
© German Archaeological Institute
Plan of the Treasuries  
Olympia's Treasuries
The treasuries of the sanctuary of Olympia are located at the foot of the Kronios hill in an area used for worship since Prehistoric times. They stand on a purpose-built terrace which extends from the Spring to the stadium, and date from the seventh to the mid-fifth centuries BC. A poros staircase connecting the terrace with the Altis below was constructed in the fourth century BC. Later a substantial buttressed retaining wall which defines the north limit of the sacred enclosure, was raised behind ...
 
 
 
Hippodrome of Olympia
The hippodrome was situated at the south-east corner of the sanctuary of Olympia, on the large flat area south of the stadium and ran almost parallel to the latter. Its exact location is unknown, since it was washed away completely by the Alpheios river in the Middle Ages when the river's west bank dike fell into disrepair. The hippodrome housed the equestrian contests (horse racing and chariot-racing) of the Olympic Games and was therefore one of the most important monuments of the site.
Pausanias, ...
 
 
 
Ancient Olympia Old Museum