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.CIMG9534

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.CIMG9530

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”.CIMG9533

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.CIMG9540


About Frank Burns

Looking for the extraordinary in the commonplace………taking the road less travelled……..striving for the ‘faculty of making happy chance discoveries’ in unremarkable circumstances. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on December 21, 2013, in Eastern Mediterranean and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I can see why you were a good teacher, you brought Olympia alive to me !

  2. I enjoyed your visit to Olympia. I went with my parents and my brother forty years ago and he and I had a race. On the way back we spotted the local bishop and were invited home to his place with the result that we were almost late for our ship. I can’t remember how we got there but I think it was a taxi, certainly not a tour bus. I had already enjoyed Wedlock!

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