Olympia, Delphi, and Classical route

Ancient Olympia is related to modern Athens first of all with the modern Olympic Games. Athens was the first city that organized the modern Olympic Games back in 1896. Today, every two years there is Olympic Flame Handover Ceremony, the next for France Olympics in 2024 (26 July to 11 August 2024).

Ancient Olympia was the religious center of all Greeks, living from ancient Ionia (modern Turkey) to Magna Grecia (modern Italy), were all united were competing in sports. The Games were taking place from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD when the Christian Byzantium emperors forbade the “pagan” celebrations. During the Games, the concept of “Olympic Truce” was introduced, so all fights were coming to a pause so that the athletes have a safe journey to and from ancient Olympia. The prize for the winners was a simple olive oil wreath and of course, glory.

So, Olympia remained hidden for centuries, even during the Ottoman occupation of Greece. In 1829, the French dug the spot and send the findings to the Louvre museum in Paris. The first official excavation took place in 1875, funded by the German state, led by legendary archaeologist Ernst Curtius. Today the archeological place of Olympia is unique, still excavated from the German Archaeological Institute  (Deutsches Archäologisches Institut -DAI), located in Athens (where more archaeological institutions are based).

The most famous statue on the site was Olympian Zeus, not to be confused with the Olympian Zeus temple in Athens. If you want to book a tour there or at Delphi, please send us an email here.