A Glance At History

Ancient Olympia

(33Km – Min.Time 25 min)

In the western Peloponnese, in an idyllic and peaceful valley, between the hill of Kronio and the confluence of the rivers Alpheus and Kladeos, the Ancient land of Olympia, the most glorious sanctum of the ancient world, stands as an international symbol of humanity.

During classical times Olympia was the city of Ilia best known as the area where the Olympic Games took place, the greatest athletic event of the then-Greek world. Today Ancient Olympia is a village and a municipality of Ilia, built in the valley of river Alpheus. Nearby lies the archaeological site, one of the most popular ones in Greece, which attracts every year tourists from all over the world.

The first excavations in the area began in 1829 and are still on-going, with important information constantly coming to light. The archaeological site’s most important buildings include the Gymnasium, the Palaistra, the Stadium, the temple of Zeus, the Vouleftirion, the Baths, Phidias’ workshop, the Leonidaion (guesthouse for the noblemen), the Sanctuary of Hestia and many more. There are indications that Olympia was inhabited in the 3d millenium B.C.


It reached its great prime between the 8th and the 5th century B.C. A significant contributing factor to this was the official establishment of the Olympic Games in 776, something which brought thousands of visitors to the city every four years. This fact is attested by the vast number of votive offerings from almost all areas of Greece.

It was here that the Olympic Games were born in honour of Zeus and were accompanied by the sacred truce that signaled a pause in hostilities between cities. The message of noble emulation and peace is preserved even today by this holy place and delivered through the Olympic Flame to every corner of the earth. The flame symbolizes the glorious triumph of the spirit and the creative power of man that continues to forge civilizations.

Ancient Olympia today remains a place of paramount importance and a center of global concern as the birthplace of the Olympic Games and the Olympic Ideal.

Visit Ancient Olympia and allow your senses to explore, feel the awe of the Olympic spirit. Be profoundly affected by mythology and enjoy a unique and unparalleled experience. Become an Olympian.

Sites to visit


1. Archaeological site of Ancient Olympia

At the centre of the archaeological site stands Altis, the holy grove, which encompasses the most important buildings. The area is dominated by the majestic temple of Zeus, one of the site’s most significant monuments, since it is the largest temple in Peloponnese; it also hosted the splendid gold and ivory statue of Zeus, 13 m. tall, made by the sculptor Phidias sometime around 430 B.C. This statue was regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

According to a votive inscription by the Lacedaimonians, the temple was built around 456 B.C. and is an excellent sample of the Doric order. To the north there is an older temple, dedicated to Hera. This temple must have been built around 600 B.C., dedicated to the sanctuary of Olympia by the people of Scillountas, an ancient town in Ilia. The temple hosted one of the sanctuary’s most significant and valuable works, Hermes by Praxiteles. Only part of the temple has been preserved today, while some fragments are kept at the Archaeological Museum of Olympia.

There is also the Mitroon, a temple dedicated to Rea-Cybele, the mother of gods, and behind it the treasures erected as offerings by the Greek cities and colonies. To the west stands Nymfaion, an aqueduct that Herodes Atticus dedicated to the sanctuary.

There was also the Phlippeion, an offering by Philip II, the Prytaneion, the Pelopion, as well as many altars, busts and statues. Outside of the Altis there was also the Bouleftirion, the South Stoa, the Gymnasium, where the athletes trained, the Palaistra, Phidias’ workshop, the Baths, the Leonidaion, Nero’s mansion, and of course the Stadium, where the Olympic Games took place, with a capacity of 45,000 spectators.

2. Olympia’s archaeological museum

This Museum is one of the richest and most important museums in Greece, and it hosts the findings that the excavations at the ancient site of Olympia brought to light.

It includes the largest collection of copper artifacts in the world, as well as collections of sculptures, ceramics and various artifacts connected to the Olympic Games. Among the most significant findings are the famous Hermes by Praxiteles, Nike by Paionius, the helmet of Miltiades and the complex of Zeus and Ganymede.

3. Museum of the history of Olympic Games of antiquity

4. Olympia conference and exhibition center (S.P.A.P)/ museum of the history of the excavations of Olympia

5. Coubertin Grove

Olympia – A picturesque and traditional village full of colors.

In Olympia tourists can enjoy many activities and visit lots of attractions in the mythical valley of gods. Also on the main street of Olympia visitors can have a great shopping experience. In the market of Olympia, Visitors can find: Greek handmade souvenirs, gold and silver jewellery, leather clothes, coffee shops, pharmacies, super markets, restaurants and banks.

Temple of Apollo Epikourios. (80km/ min. time … )

If you have enough time… you must visit The Temple of Apollo Epikourios! The columned temple of Apollo Epicurius rises majestically within the sanctuary of Vassae in the mountains of Arkadia. It is one of the best-preserved monuments of classical antiquity and an evocative and poignant testament to classical Greek architecture. It is highly significant for its architectural features and influence.

The temple was built at the height of the Greek civilization in the second half of the 5th century BC (420-400 BC). It was dedicated to Apollo Epicurius by the Phigaleians, who believed the god of sun and healing had protected them from plague and invasion. In 174 AD the ancient traveller Pausanias admired the beauty and harmony of the temple and attributed it to Iktinos, the architect of the Parthenon.The temple appears to have been forgotten for almost 1700 years until it was rediscovered in the 18th century and attracted intense interest from scholars and artists. The isolation of the site ensured many significant features survived largely intact. The temple is one of the earliest post-Parthenonian edifices and the earliest monument in which all three ancient Greek architectural orders – Doric, Ionic and Corinthian – are found together. It also included the earliest surviving Corinthian capital column.

The temple further exhibits a number of bold and innovative architectural designs that mark a turning point in the development of temple-building. Through a series of ingenious devices, the architect successfully balanced contrasting elements and blended the old with the new, contributing to the unique architectural and artistic value of the monument. The temple, as well as its sculptural decoration is considered as one of the best-preserved samples of the ancient Greek civilization, from the period of its heyday (5th century BC) and it was the first in Greece to be listed in Unesco’s World Heritage List in 1986.

Ancient Ilida

(45 Km – Min.Time  35 min)

Ilida or Ilis was a city-state in ancient Ilia, very near ancient Olympia, and took over the area which today extends from the village of Paliopoli (or Nea Ilida) to the southeast, Bouchioti (or Avgeio) to the southwest and Kalyvia to the west. According to the myth, it was founded by Oxylus, son of Aemon and Gorgi, who is also mentioned in some traditions as the founder of the Olympic Games. Oxylus, who hailed from Aetolia, founded Ilida by merging all pre-existing towns in the area, and became its first king.

Ilida put a lot of emphasis on the organization of the Olympic Games, which took place every four years. Before and during the games the whole area came alive; a month before the games began, all athletes came to Ilida to train. Many came with their friends and family, from various parts of the country.

The city of Ilida had many temples and sanctuaries, such as the temple of the Charites, the temple of Seilinos, the temple of Hades, the sanctuary of Tyche, the sanctuary of Dionysus, the shrine of Achilles and many others. The city saw great prosperity, until about the 4th century, when the first signs of decline slowly appeared. The final end came some centuries later, with the destructive earthquake of the 6th century A.D.

Ilida was one of the most important Greek cities in antiquity. It was inhabited in prehistoric times and during the Mycenaean period it became an independent kingdom, which prospered greatly in the 6th century B.C. and also had its own coins, which were distinguished for their artistic merit. During its great prime, Ilida comprised four districts: Pisatis, Trifylia, Akroreia and Koile-Ilis, the fertile valley over which the kingdom extended.

The locals became stock-breeders and farmers, taking advantage of the valley’s rich soil and the area’s mild climate. They also occupied themselves with the Olympic Games, contributing greatly to their organization.In the society of Ilida the women played an important role, having assumed the management of public affairs, as well as the organization of the Heraia, panhellenic women’s games in honour of Hera. The games took place every four years.


Chlemoutsi Castle

(46 Km – Min.Time  40 min)


Located on a hilltop in the village Castro, overlooking Elis plain, Chlemoutsi castle is one of the most imposing castles in Peloponnese. Its name is of Slav origin and it resulted from a distortion of the word “Chelmos” or “Chelonata” which is the name of the hill on which it is built. There is evidence of a palaeolithic and middle Helladic settlement (10.000 b.C and 2.000 b.C).

The most powerful fortress of the Frankish Principate of Achaea was established in 1220-1223 by Geoffrey I Villehardouhin. In order to cover its immense construction costs, the French General had a dispute with the Principate’s latin clergy. During the Turkish rule it served as the headquarters for the Turk officials, voevoda and cadi. In 1427, Constantinos Palaeologos gained possession of the castle and used it as a military and administrative center. In 1460, it was conquered by the Ottomans and in 1867 by the Venetians who ruled it until 1715 when it was recaptured by the Ottomans.

Consisting of two parts, the Chlemoutsi castle is a fine example of fortress architecture. The horseshoe-shaped outer enclosure surrounds the inner part, located at the southeast side, on the highest spot of the hill. The total length of its walls is about 1km long. Alongside one can see remains of buildings dating back to the same period as the castle itself (13rd century), like cisterns and traces of a water piping system.

The inner enclosure comprised of the Castellan residence, reception halls, kitchens and the guard’s quarters, while cisterns, chimneys and storage rooms are preserved in the two storey rooms.