Travel guide

Ancient Olympia


General info

Welcome to Ancient Olympia...

Ancient Olympia (this is the name of the modern settlement) is a village and municipality of the prefecture of EIia. It is built at the foothill of the mountain, in the valley where the river Alpheus flows. In the same place there was the sacred Altis of Olympia. The village, which is located near the archaeological site, at an altitude of 63 meters, is situated 23 km away from Pyrgos and 306km away from Athens. Olympia is the birthplace of the Olympic Games and the sacred place of the godfather Zeus as well as one of the most ancient sites not only of ancient but also of modern Greece. Built at the foothill of Kronos, where the rivers Alpheus and Kladios meet, it constitutes the place where honor, peace, sportsmanship and the body are regarded to be the supreme ideals of all centuries. Besides, there are various versions about how and when the Olympics started. Though, one is for sure. They were meant to become a symbol for all mankind. The olive wreath from the sacred tree of Zeus and the honors that the winners enjoyed for life were the ultimate reward that one could receive at that time. The respected sacred truce during the Games made Olympia an ideal place for political debate, since all the kings and leaders of Greece had the opportunity to meet unarmed, a fact that fostered a sense of unity among Greeks. In Olympia there was one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, the statue of Zeus with a height of 13.5 m, crafted by Phidias and made of ivory and gold. Housed in the museum of Olympia is also the Hermes by Praxiteles, one of the most famous ancient statues. The archaeological site of Ancient Olympia is the main attraction for tourists and undoubtedly the ideal destination for lovers of ancient Greek civilization etc.

 

In the past…

The region of Olympia was already inhabited by the early second millennium BC and perhaps even earlier. There was a cult here before Zeus, probably of Gaia. According to the tradition, the first Olympic Games were held in 776 BC, but, actually, they may have begun earlier. The games were a peace treaty between Sparta and Elis. However, it was soon decided that all Greek states could take part in them as long as they would respect the sacred truce during the games. This period of peace lasted for about a month, but because of the fact that many city-states took place in the games and people from all over Greece came to the attend them, the period of ceasefire was extended to three months, always during the summertime.
Due to the fact that the sacred truce gave the kings and leaders from all over Greece a chance to meet unarmed, Olympia became an important place for political discussions and transactions. Besides, the sense of unity among the Greeks as well as of language and religion was strengthened.

 

Nowadays….

The modern town of Ancient Olympia owes its frequent visits to its world-famous archaeological site. The tourism development during the last years has been rapid. As a result, this has enabled Olympia to provide all the comforts and modern services to its visitors. It also enables the visitors to admire the Greek countryside and enjoy some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, such as the one of Zaharo and Caiaphas with the famous baths. The trip to Olympia is not an ordinary trip. The power, spirituality, harmony and beauty of this holy place fill the heart and spirit of visitors, offering them an experience that they will always keep inside them, remembering it as their own Olympia.

Sight seeing

If you happen to come by or stay in this beautiful city, then
you can visit:

 


• The Archaeological Site of Olympia, with the famous "Roman portico" entrance, the "Pritanio", the "Philippion", the "Ireo", the "Pelopio", the "Nimfeo" and the "Mitroo". Moving a little further you will come across the gallery (Stoa) of Echo. This is an impressive entrance to the stage which could accommodate 40,000 spectators. Next to it, there was the magnificent Temple of Zeus.
Apart from the temple, you can visit the Parliament, the South Gallery (Notia Stoa), the "Leonideo", the "Palestra" and the ancient Gymnasium

 

• The museum of Olympia, situated directly opposite to the site. It is one of the most important museums of the world since it houses many objects of enormous historical value, such as the statue of "Hermes of Praxiteles", the pediments of the Temple of Zeus, the "Nike of Peonies" and more...

 

• The Museum of History of the Olympic Games which hosts 463 ancient works from the second millennium BC until the 5th century AD.

 

• The Museum of History of the modern Olympic Games

 

• Apart from its historical interest, the area boasts great natural beauty... Unforgettable passages, through pines and oaks with a rich habitat, lush vegetation and crystal springs. Some of the paths that worth of a walk are the following ones:

 

The Passage of "Kefalovriso"
The Passage of the bridge "Mouria"
The Passage of "Krioneri"

 

• the beautiful beaches of the country, such as the one of "Zaharo" and "Caiaphas", with the famous baths

 

• The River "Alfeios" which is the longest river in the Peloponnese, with a total length of 110km.

How to go

By Car:

Ancient Olympia is located 306 km away from Athens. After you have entered the Attica Road, follow the highway of Athens-Corinth (for about 80 km, approx. 40-50 minutes). After you have left behind Corinth, keep in the direction to Tripoli, paying attention to the road signs so as not to miss the exit (approx. 80 km., approx. 40 minutes). After you have arrived at Tripoli, continue your journey on the new national road, in the direction to Kalamata. Approx. 30 km before Kalamata, at the intersection, follow the road to Kyparissia (there are road signs). At the intersection of Kalo Nero, turn right to Pyrgos – Patras. A few km before you get to Pyrgos, follow the road signs that will guide you to Ancient Olympia.

 

Total travel time : 210 - 230 minutes

 

By Bus:

There are daily itineraries from Athens to Ancient Olympia. The departure point is at the main bus station of Athens. (KTEL Busses Kifisos - Kifissou 100, on the national road of Athens).

 

For more information please call:

KTEL Busses Athens : ☎  (+30) 210 5250242

KTEL Busses Pyrgos : ☎  (+30) 26210 22592

KTEL Busses Prefecture Ilia : ☎  (+30) 26230 72034

 

By Train:

OSE Train station Pyrgos : ☎  (+30) 26210 22500

Train station Ancient Olympia : ☎  (+30) 26240 22677

 

For more information and itineraries, please visit the following websites:

www.proastiakos.net and www.ose.gr

Useful telephones

Police Station Olympia : ☎  (+30) 26240 22100


Taxi Station Olympia : ☎  (+30) 26240 22555


Hospital/Health Center Olympia : ☎  (+30) 26240 22222


Drugstores Olympia : ☎  (+30) 26240 - 23306, 22000, 31489


Post office Olympia : ☎  (+30) 26240 22578


Agrotiki Bank Olympia : ☎  (+30) 26240 31417


National Bank Olympia : ☎  (+30) 26240 22500


Alpha Bank Olympia : ☎  (+30) 26240 23531


Citizen Service Centre (KEP) Olympia : ☎  (+30) 26240 29011


Municipality Offices : ☎  (+30) 26240 22250


Fire Department Olympia : ☎  (+30) 26240 22300


Museum of Olympia : ☎  (+30) 26240-22742


Museum of the Olympic Games : ☎  (+30) 26240-22544


History Museum of the Olympic Games : ☎  (+30) 26240 29119

Distances

From the city of Ancient Olympia to:

Athens

264 km

Thessaloniki  

595 km

Piraeus

261 km

Larisa

606 km 

Volos

579 km 

Ioannina

350 km 

Zakynthos

105 km 

Pylos

120 km 

Kalamata

121 km

Nafplio

172 km 

Patras

108 km 

Sparti

187 km 

Corinth

186 km 

Igoumenitsa

416 km

Pyrgos

27 km