Our next stop took us to Katakolon, Greece or better known as Olympia. I REALLY enjoyed touring this original site of the Olympic Games, especially since all of the hype around the upcoming (and now happening) Olympics.
According to Wikipedia, “the ancient Olympic Games were a series of athletic competitions among representatives of various city-states of Ancient Greece. They were held in honor of Zeus, and the Greeks gave them a mythological origin. Historical records indicate that they began in 776 BC in Olympia. They continued to be celebrated when Greece came under Roman rule, until the emperor Theodosius I suppressed them in 394 AD as part of the campaign to impose Christianity as the state religion of Rome. The games were usually held every four years, or olympiad, which became a unit of time in historical chronologies.”
“During the celebration of the games, an Olympic Truce was enacted so that athletes could travel from their countries to the games in safety.” Our tour guide told us that it could take sometimes 3-4 months for some countries to arrive and their path was safe from war along their route, even if the country had an existing feud going on. “The prizes for the victors were wreaths of laurel leaves. The games became a political tool used by city-states to assert dominance over their rivals. Politicians would announce political alliances at the games, and in times of war, priests would offer sacrifices to the gods for victory. The games were also used to help spread Hellenistic culture throughout the Mediterranean. The Olympics also featured religious celebrations and artistic competitions. A Statue of Zeus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, was erected at Olympia to preside over the games, though it no longer stands. Sculptors and poets would congregate each olympiad to display their works of art to would-be patrons. The ancient Olympics had fewer events than the modern games, and only free men who spoke Greek could compete (although a woman Bilistiche is also mentioned as a winning chariot owner.) As long as they met the entrance criteria, athletes from any country or city-state were allowed to participate. The games were always held at Olympia rather than alternating to different locations as is the tradition with the modern Olympic Games. Victors at the Olympics were highly honored and praised, and their feats chronicled for future generations.”
|There are still footprints embedded in this stone|
|These “faces” were actually water spouts and sat on top of the pillars to catch the rain|
Looking at all of the ruins, I was amazed at the structures and how a lot of them were still standing to this day. Most of the ruins left are from the training areas, not from the field itself, which is simply a large, open dirt field with a strip of marble marking the location where runners would take their mark.
|The entrance into Olympic Field|
|Olympic Field with the marble starting line. Very simple. |
|Where the judges sat. The spectators sat on the grass that was gradually sloped upward. |
|The girls running on the field. |
After our tour we headed back to our ship where my husband and I splurged on a private cabana wine pairing dinner while sailing the Greek Isles.
|The view from our outside cabana on the ship|
I have to say I wasn’t that impressed with the food on the ship, other than their private restaurants, but this dinner was superb (and they even made me chicken to substitute the seafood and lamb…though I was so full I barely ate it!)
The perfect ending to a perfect day!
To Be Continued…