Ancient Olympia

Olympic Flame/Ολυμπιακή Φλόγα

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The rehearsal of the ‘lighting of the flame ceremony’ in Ancient Olympia. The actual ceremony will take place tomorrow. No spectators can get this close on that day.The photographs were taken courtesy of my cousin who is lucky enough to work at the ancient site inspite of the hot sun 😉 The flame will travel all the way to Brazil for the summer Olympic games.

I remember being in the ancient stadium for the Athens 2004 Olympic flame ceremony. It was a very cloudy day and then at the right moment the clouds opened up at the and the sun shined through, and the flame was lit. It was a very magical and memorable experience!

 

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Secrets of the Museum

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A Colossal female head made of lime stone. Possibly the Goddess Hera.

This was my second visit to the Archaeological Museum of Olympia in Greece. This year, I had some cousins that were working there and they, with their observant eyes  and knowledge. were able to point out some things that I did not notice on my first visit.

One of the things that I didn’t notice on my first visit was a snake that is coming out of Hera’s head in the photograph below.

Snake coming out of Heras' Head

Snake coming out of the Goddess Hera’s Head. Yuck I hate snakes!

I was suprised to discover a heart shape on the upper right side of  this sculpture of a bull. It was prominent Greek aristocrat Herod of Atticus who had this statue of a bull made in honour of  his Roman wife Aspasia Regilla. He even built the theatre ‘Odeon of Atticus’, which is next to the Parthenon, in memory of  her. This man really loved his wife! So much so that he even had a little heart drawn on the upper right side.  Who knew people drew hearts back then too?

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The inscription reads, ‘Regilla priestess of Demeter offers the water and appendices to Zeus’.

Aspasia hung around Olympia a lot and was even the only woman to be officially a spectator at the games. Only men were allowed to take part and be spectators at the games. Yes, my ancestors were very misogynistic.  Also, bulls were used as sacrifices for Zeus at his temple in Olympia.

The Bull a gift to Aspasia wife of Herod

The Bull was a gift for Aspasia Regilla the wife of Herod

The is the very famous statue of Hermes by Greek Sculptor Praxiteles from Athens.  This is the only authentic statue that has been saved from Praxiteles. It was found in the temple of Hera in Olympia in 1877 and it dates back to 343 A.D. Hermes (messenger of the Gods)  is holding baby Dionysos (God of wine) who is crying trying to grab something while crying. Hermes  (when he had his arm) most likely had some grapes in his hand. There are some very skilful techniques in this statue, from the left he looks sad, from the right happy and from the front he looks calm.

hermesdarktext.jpgI didn’t know that Praxiteles wasn’t happy with his masterpiece, and that is why the back of the marble statue has not been polished.   Artists are such perfectionists!

Front and back view of Hermes

Front and back view of Hermes. The front is polished the back is not.

This is the breast-plate of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius.  Marcus had an affinity towards Greece. He wrote his famous philosophical book called ‘The Meditations’ in Greek.  To show his love for Greece he had carved on his breast-plate the Goddess Athena (with the owl and serpent on each side of her representing wisdom)  standing on top of the Etruscan she-wolf who is nursing the twins Romulus and Remus. The twins are central characters in the origin mythology of Rome. The fact that the Goddess Athena is depicted as standing over the twins means that Marcus believed that Athens was superior to Rome. We can see that Athena is being crowned as well.

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Breast-plate of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

I wasn’t aware of the history of tear bottles. These tear bottles were found in a cemetery in a grave in Miraka cemetery.  The ancient mourners of the deceased would collect their tears in the glass bottles and place them in the graves to show their respect and grief. This tradition dates back to ancient Persia, Biblical times, Rome and it made a come back in the Victoria era.

Tear BottleOne of my favourite statues at the museum. The statue of Apollo in the west pediment of the temple of Zeus which was built in 472 and 456 BC. The temple was built by sculptor Phidias at Olympia. The temple housed the 13 m (43 ft) high statue of Zeus-one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world.

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The God Apollo

This old man is not on a cell phone, he is in deep thought, because he is ‘the Seer’.

The Seer

The Seer from the West Pediment of the Temple of Zeus.

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The Centaur in a battle from The West Pediment of the Temple of Zeus.

Notice the veins on the hands-now that’s impressive.

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Details of a hand.

Sculptor Phidias’ work shop was as big as the temple of Zeus. It had to be the same size as the temple since the statue was so tall.

 

Portrait of the statue of Zeus and Phidia's

A painting of the statue of Zeus and Phidias’ workshop

There are more ‘secrets’ in the museum, but I can only put so  much in a blog post. I find that some the tour guides are more knowledgable than other tour guides and some like to divulge more information than others.

The Ancient Ruins of Olympia

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Archaeologists at work close to the entrance of the site.

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Archaeologists uncovered a gymnasium 186 meters in length dating back to the 3rd & 4th Century A.D

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The many tourists at the archaeological site

The many tourists at the archaeological site

The Entrance to the Stadium for the Athletes

The Entrance to the Stadium for the Athletes

The Ancient Stadium. The judges sat on the right.

The Ancient Stadium. The judges sat on the right where the stones are.

This is the first time that I visited the archaeological site (Altis) at ancient Olympia. I have driven by the site many times to visit my mothers’ village. I even went to the museum, but I did not have the opportunity to visit the site where the gymnasiums were. This was where the athletes would train for the games.  I remember back in the summer of 2004, when Athens was hosting the Olympic games, and sitting on the grass of the ancient stadium with other spectators from around the world. We were waiting for the priestess to light the torch in the gymnasium area. It was a cloudy morning and all of a sudden the sun came out and the torch was lit. It was an experience that I will never forget.

Walking through the site I was a bit disheartening to see everything in ruins. It’s hard to imagine how the site looked like back then. Despite being in ruins the site was very beautiful and tranquil.

Ancient Olympia/Αρχαία Ολυμπία

he Olive Groves of Olympia

The Olive Groves of Olympia

A Lone Cypress Tree

A Lone Cypress Tree

The Landscape of Olympia

The Landscape of Olympia

The Church Cemetary

The Church Cemetary

In the distance, the church of Saint Sotiros (Saviour)

In the distance, the church of Saint Sotiros (Saviour)

Recently, I took some photographs of the lush green landscape of Olympia located in the western Peloponnese in Greece. I took most of the photographs from the church which offers a great view of the surrounding land with its many olive groves. My mother is from this region and I have gone many times but I never took photographs like these. It is a very beautiul and important place as it is where the original Olympic games were held.

Πρόσφατα, τραβηξα μερικές φωτογραφίες από το καταπράσινο τοπίο της Ολυμπίας που βρίσκεται στη δυτική Πελοπόννησο στην Ελλάδα. Τραβηξα τις φωτογραφίες κοντα στην εκκλησία η οποία προσφέρει μια υπέροχη θέα στη γύρω περιοχη με τις πολλες ελαιώνες. Η μητέρα μου είναι από την περιοχή αυτή και έχω πάει πολλές φορές, αλλά ποτέ δεν ειχα τραβηξει φωτογραφίες σαν αυτές. Η Αρχαια Ολυμπια είναι ένα πολύ ομορφο και σημαντικο μερος καθώς είναι το σημείο όπου πραγματοποιήθηκαν οι πρωτες Ολυμπιακες Αγώνες