Olympia Greece hosted the ancient Greece Olympics every four years ("olympiad" is the Greek word meaning a period of four years) beginning in 776 B.C. and lasting for more than 900 years. During this time, the ancient Greece Olympics were as important as the Pythian Games, which were held in Delphi and preceded the Olympic. The games were not held again until 1896, and they returned to Greece for the 2004 summer games held in Athens. The men's and women's shot put competition was held in Olympia for those games.
The ancient city of Olympia Greece is located on the Peloponnesian Peninsula in a valley surrounded by mountainous forested countryside. The Archaeological Museum here is one of the finest in the country, and contains an impressive collection of statuary, friezes, bronzes, terracotta pottery, and other artifacts. One of the things to do in the region of Olympia Greece is hiking. You can also visit nearby Lake Kaifa, which is famous for its spas and thermal hot springs.
The modern town of Olympia Greece does not have an airport. If you are flying, you can land in Kalamata (about 85 miles away). Most tourists visit the site as part of vacation packages that arrive here from Athens via motorcoach. If you have a rental car as transportation, you can drive from Athens as well as from the northern part of the country. Greek ferries arrive in the ports of Patra (about 60 miles away) and Kalamata. They come from ports in Italy as well as from some of the Greek islands, including the port city of Chania on the island of Crete. There are trains from Athens that arrive at the station in Pyrgos (about ten miles away).
Like Delphi, the ancient city of Olympia Greece was a sanctuary and center of religious activity with great temples, altars, shrines, and magnificent statues. The Temple of Olympian Zeus was the most celebrated temple at the site. It contained a glorious statue of the father of the gods, made of gold and ivory by the great Athenian sculptor Pheidias and named one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The sculptor's studio was excavated in the 1950s, and revealed many of the ancient sculpting tools used during construction. The other of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World that was located in Greece was the Colossus of Rhodes; only the great Pyramids at Giza in Egypt still stand today.
The modern history of Olympia began with the rediscovery of the ancient city in 1766. But it was not until 1829 that the first scientific excavations were begun in the vast field of majestic ruins that dot the landscape where the ancient city of Olympia Greece once thrived. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Archaeologists from Germany became responsible for excavation and preservation in the 1970s, and it is still the German Archaeological Institute at Athens that oversees the site. Forests of marble columns mark each spot where buildings and temples once stood. There are gymnasiums where athletes were required to train for the ancient Greece Olympics for a minimum of a month prior to competing. There is a running track and a stadium, as well as an amphitheater.