Olympia: just a pile of old stones?
Tip: if you arrive at Katakolon in a cruise ship, and you want to visit Olympia, don’t pay silly money to go on a guided tour. Jump on a local bus, pay just 10 euros, and be in control of your own time.
But is the site just a pile of old stones? Well, yes it is…….. Visually, it’s not very attractive, and it is certainly not awe-inspiring. You may go just to say you have been there, and tick it off your list. Fine. But if you delve into its history, you will discover some fascinating things.
First of all, it was only one of four sites in ancient Greece that celebrated games. The other three were Corinth, Nemea and Delphi. Olympia came out as number 1 because of its 12 metre statue of Zeus, the “Father of all Gods and men”.
In the 19th century, a certain Baron Pierre de Cubertin had been inspired by an English revival of the games in Much Wenlock, Shropshire, but decided to ignore all the English eccentricities and boldly dropped such nation-affirming events as the blindfold wheelbarrow race. Instead, in his first version of what was to become the first Olympic Games, he included the discus and marathon……… how daring!
If you go to the site, have a bit of fun, and get on your marks on the starting line and imagine you are an ancient version of Usain Bolt. In ‘marginally’ over 10 seconds, you could create your own personal best time on the spot where it all started, back in the 8th century BC.