We are located in Katakolon on the west coast of the Peloponnese, in the landscape of Elis. From here a kind of S-Bahn goes once a day via Pyrgos to Olympia. In the tiny village Katakolon even cruise ships dock because of Olympia - luckily not today.
After a 45 minutes drive we arrive at the pretty little station of Olympia, five minutes walk from the ancient sites. It is impressive and fascinating: the sheer size of this temple and sports complex, which was one of the most important cult sites in Greece. It is impossible to grasp all the individual temples and to whom they are dedicated. A special charm is given to the place by the ancient olive trees that stand in between. Huge columns, pictures that we know from history books.
In a wide landscape, between two small rivers, the old Olympia is situated between light hills. One can imagine how sports were practiced here, in 776 before the turn of the century the first Olympic Games. The excavations are still going on, probably it was already before 776. Especially the stadium is fascinating: 192 meters long, the stands right and left made of grass, only in the middle a stone box, for the referees and dignitaries. It is said to hold 45000 spectators, they will have stood.
Which contributes to the fascination of the place: there are almost no people there. Because of the corona, only a few people come here at the moment, not to mention the hundreds of cruise tourists.
Beside a museum of the history of the Olympic Games that we did not visit, there is an antiquity museum in which there are findings of Olympia, huge statues of Zeus and other gods, frieze pieces with fighting scenes, but also Roman emperors.
The museum is once again a highlight, as it does not only show the findings from the classical Greek period, but also art and utility objects from the pre-Greek era as also from the following Roman era - thus, an overall picture results that goes far beyond the pure classical image of Greece - who knows that the Roman emperor Nero watched the Olympic Games here in a palace that was specially built for him?
The decline of Olympia was initiated by the fact that Christianity became the state religion in the Roman Empire and that other religious customs were subsequently banned. So this holy place decayed, earthquakes also contributed to it.
Nevertheless, Olympia is still today an intense experience of antiquity.