Ancient olympia Greece Travel Guide 2007 all the informations about hotels history taxi transfers tours and more........
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The Philippaeum
The Phidias workshop
The Palaestra
The Leonideum
Ancient olympia archeological site
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. The architect was Libon of Elis; the sculptor of the pediments is unknown. 

- The temple, a peripteral hexastyle with thirteen columns at the sides, has an east-west orientation. The columns, 10.43 metres high and 2.25 metres in diameter at the base, were of local shell-limestone, covered with white stucco. Only the pedimental sculptures, roof tiles and lion's head water spouts were of marble. The temple comprised a pronaos, cella and opisthodomos; both the pronaos and opisthodomos were distyle in antis. On the floor of the pronaos are the remains of a Hellenistic mosaic with representations of tritons. In front of the pronaos is a small rectangular space paved with hexagonal marble slabs where the victors were crowned. The cella was divided into three naves by two double rows of seven columns. At the far end stood the chryselephantine statue of Zeus, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, created by Pheidias c. 430 BC. The statue, believed to have been over twelve metres high, is described by Pausanias (V, 11) and depicted on ancient coins. It portrayed Zeus enthroned, holding a sceptre in his left hand and a winged Victory in his right. The undraped parts of the statue were of ivory, while the robe and throne, the latter decorated with relief mythological scenes, were of gold. After the abolition of the Olympic Games, the statue was carried off to Constantinople where it perished in a fire c. AD 475.  

- The temple's opulent sculptural decoration is a fine example of the Severe Style. The east pediment depicted the chariot race between Pelops and Oinomaos, presided by Zeus, master of the sanctuary, whose figure dominated the composition. The west pediment depicted the battle of the Lapiths and Centaurs, arranged round the central figure of Apollo. The twelve metopes, six at each end over the entrance to the pronaos and the opisthodomos, depicted the Labours of Hercules, mythical son of Zeus. In the Roman period, the undecorated metopes of the fa?ades were hung with twenty-one gilded bronze shields dedicated by the consul Mummius to commemorate his victory over the Greeks in the Isthmus (146 BC). At the apex of the east pediment was a gilt victory by the sculptor Paionios, while the corner-acroteria were in the form of gilded cauldrons. 

- The temple was burnt by order of Theodosius II in AD 426. Badly damaged by the fire, it was finally thrown down by the earthquakes of AD 551 and 552. Excavations at the temple began by the French in 1829, and were completed by the German School. Parts of the sculptural decoration have been restored and are now on display in the Olympia Archaeological Museum, while the metopes removed by the French expedition of 1829 are in the Louvre. Conservation and cleaning of the monument are currently in progress.
The Temple of Zeus
The Statue of Zeus

at Olympia is one of the classical Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was carved by the famed Classical sculptor Phidias (5th century BC) circa 435 BC in Olympia, Greece.
The seated statue occupied the whole width of the aisle of the temple that was built to house it. According to the 1989 World Book, it was 40 feet (12 meters) tall. "It seems that if Zeus were to stand up," the geographer Strabo noted early in the 1st century BC, "he would unroof the temple."
Zeus was carved from ivory (technically the ivory was soaked in a liquid that made it softer, so it was probably both carved and shaped as necessary) then covered with gold plating (thus chryselephantine) and was seated on a magnificent throne of cedarwood, inlaid with ivory, gold, ebony, and precious stones.

In Zeus' right hand there was a small statue of Nike, the goddess of victory, and in his left hand, a shining sceptre on which an eagle perched. Visitors like the Roman general Aemilius Paulus, the victor over Macedon, were moved to awe by the godlike majesty and splendor that Phidias had captured.
The circumstances of its eventual destruction are a source of debate: some scholars argue that it perished with the temple in the 5th century AD, others argue that it was carried off to Constantinople, where it was destroyed in the great fire of the Lauseion (Schobel 1965).
The model of the east pediment

sculpture depicts the myth of the birth of the goddess Athena. Zeus, the god of the sky and ruler of the gods, began to suffer with a terrible headache which grew progressively worse. The other gods asked Zeus' son Hephaestus, blacksmith of the gods, if he would try to cure Zeus' headache. Hephaestus hurled his ax into Zeus' skull and split his head open. This did not hurt Zeus because he was immortal. Athena leapt out of Zeus' head fully grown and completely armored.

The only one of the Olympians who was not afraid and understood the importance of this birth was the goddess of victory, Nike. She came forward to crown Athena with a laurel wreath, symbol of victory.