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General Information

Olympia is the hometown of the Olympic sports event and Zeus' holy place, Olympia has educated ideals since ancient times. It was by no means just the sports event, but also the honor, the calm, the fight back and the body - all in one. Tripping the archaeological site and museum, you will walk in one of the most important sanctuaries of ancient Greece. Located in the landscape of Ilia, by the foot of Mt. Kronion (Kronios Lofos), Olympia requests you to take part of the history of Greece.


Olympia is linked to many gods and myths, and there are unusual versions on how the Olympic Games got started. According to one version, this was where Zeus fights back with his father Cronus, finally beating him and seizing the throne. As a recollection of his triumph, Zeus made the games.

Another legend tells us that it was the five brothers that brought up Zeus on Crete that started them. They raced in Olympia, and the oldest brother Heracles (not the hero) crowned the winner with an olive garland.

Yet another story tells us about king Oenomaus of Pisa, whose daughter Hippodameia had arrive at marrying age. This concerned the king, since prophesy had told him that he would die by the hand of his son-in-law, and so he conceives of a wrong plan that would prevent Hippodameia from ever getting married. He made an statement that any suitor would have to compete with him in a chariot race. If the suitor won, he would get Hippodameias' hand, but if he lost, he would die. So, the races begun. In spite of the risk of losing their life, many suitors challenged the king, not knowing that the evil king had Ares' unbeatable horses. After Oenomaus had beaten, and killed, 33 suitors, Pelops arrived. As soon as she saw him, Hippodameia fell very much in love, and conspire with the king's charioteer Myrtilos to help Pelops.

Myrtilos damage the king's chariot by pulling out the bolt that held one of the wheels in its place, and after the race had started the chariot fell apart in the first turn. The king was caught in his horses reins and dragged to death. Pelops and Hippodameia married, and the games were to be held in order to remember the day Pelops won over the sly king.


The region of Olympia was already inhabited in the beginning of the 2nd Millennium BC, if not earlier. There was a cult here before Zeus, probably to Gaea.

Institution holds that the 1st Olympic Games were held in 776BC, but they might actually have started way before then. The games were a peace treaty between Sparta and Elis, and it was soon decided that all Greek states could take part in them as long as they respected the sacred truce that must be held during the games. This period of peace was for a month at first, but because so many states took part and people from all over came to watch, it was extended to three months, always during summer.

Because the blessed truce gave the kings and privileged from all over Greece a chance to meet unarmed, Olympia became an important place for political discussions and trade. It also enhanced the feeling of unity amongst the Greeks, along with the language and religion.

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