Olympia (Ὀλυμπία), is a small town on the Peloponnese peninsula in Greece, famous for the nearby archaeological site of the same name, which was a major Panhellenic religious sanctuary of ancient Greece, where the ancient Olympic Games were held. The site was primarily dedicated to Zeus and drew visitors from all over the Greek world as one of a group of such "Panhellenic" centers which helped to build the identity of the ancient Greeks as a nation. The Olympic Games were held every four years throughout Classical antiquity, from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD.
Olympia lies in the wide valley of the rather small Alfeiós River in the western part of the Peloponnese, today around 18 kilometers away from the Ionian Sea, but in antiquity perhaps half that distance. The closest city to Olympia is Pyrgos, located about 20km to the west of the archeological site. Further west (35 km from Olympia) there is a small port, called Katakolon, where cruise ships dock. From here tourists can take the bus and visit Olympia. There is also a train connecting Katakolon, Pyrgos and Olympia, but buses are more often.
Olympia is a major tourist attraction and has a very important archeological museum devoted to the ancient games. There are also other museums in the area, most important of which is the Museum of the History of the Olympic Games of antiquity.
The full ticket to the area costs €12 during the summer period and €6 during the winter period. This ticket includes the visit to the following areas: 1. Archaeological Site of Olympia, 2. Archaeological Museum of Olympia 3. Museum of the History of the Olympic Games of Antiquity and 4. Museum of the History of the Excavations in Olympia. The ticket is valid for one day.
The Archaeological Museum of Olympia.
The Archaeological Museum of Olympia, one of the most important museums in Greece, presents the long history of the most celebrated sanctuary of antiquity. The museum's permanent exhibition contains finds from the excavations in the sacred precinct of the Altis (as the sanctuary was originally known) dating from prehistoric times to the Early Christian period. Among the many precious exhibits, the sculpture collection, for which the museum is most famous, the bronze collection, the richest collection of its type in the world, and the large terracotta collection, are especially noteworthy. The most famous exhibits are undoubtedly the statue of Hermes by Praxiteles and Apollo, the central figure of the west pediment of the Temple of Zeus. The museum was reorganized in 2004 to meet modern museological standards.
The archaeological site
The archaeological site held over 70 significant buildings, and ruins of many of these survive, although the main Temple of Zeus survives only as stones on the ground. The ruins stand in a beautiful scenery, and the best way to visit the site is by just walking around. Doesn't really matter if what you are looking at is "this temple or that building". In the summer the heat can be intense and the sun harsh, so do not forget your hat and a bottle of water. In any case, though, a visit in spring or automn is much more rewarding.