Museum of Ancient Olympia

Olympia was the most glorious sanctuary of ancient Greece dedicated to Zeus. It was the venue for the Olympic Games held during the Olympics, the most important celebration of Greeks during most of the antiquity. Corresponding festivals were the Pythia organized in honor of Apollo in Delphi, Isthmia in honor of Poseidon in the Isthmus of Corinth and Nemea, also in honor of Zeus in his sanctuary in Nemea.

Olympia was called Altis, a Sacred Alps. It was built on the north bank of the Alfeios River. There are traces of human presence since the Neolithic period. Originally there was an agrarian settlement and gradually evolved into the largest religious center of the ancient world. There was for about a thousand years the golden ivory statue of Zeus, the work of Pheidias, which was known in antiquity as one of the seven wonders of the world. It was 12 meters high and consisted of wood inside, but gold, ivory, silver, crystal clear and semi-precious stones outside. The starting point of the Olympic Games is placed in 776 BC. and was held every four years.

But the Games are already much older, because according to their tradition, Pelopas, who won the chariot race of the Pisa Oinomao king, started. Gradually erected the various buildings, religious and secular, until the 2nd century. in the form it has today. The oldest building is the temple of Hera and the newest Nymphaio. In the Roman period, many buildings were completed and reconstructed as the Romans continued the games without interruption.

The operation of the sanctuary continued in the early Christian years on Constantine's day. In 393 AD were the last Olympics and, shortly after, the emperor of Byzantium Theodosius I, with his decree permanently forbade their execution because they were considered pagan, whereas on Theodosius II the final destruction of the sanctuary (426 AD) took place.