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Olympia, Greece

Olympia, Greece - Mediterranean Cruises - Europe Cruise -

Near the fishing village of Katakolon sits Olympia, one of the most important religious centers of ancient Greece. This fascinating destination is the site of the original Olympic games and the Temple of Zeus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Since the modern Games were revived in 1896, the Olympic torchbearers return to Olympia every two years to ignite the flame, which is then carried to the site of the next Olympic games. This historic site is sure to ignite your passion for Greece's golden age.

Lying in a lush green valley watered by the Alfios River, Olympia is steeped in legend as the birthplace of the first Olympic games in 776 BC. The city provided not only a site to hold the games, but also a neutral center where people of neighboring independent states could meet, compete, worship and honor one another for their accomplishments. Exploring the stadium ruins, you can almost hear the applause of some 40,000 spectators and trace out the old running, jumping, boxing, wrestling, discus and javelin, competition grounds.

The games at Olympia were held every four years in honor of Zeus, father of the gods. The victor's prize was a crown of wild olives. Although in ruins, the Temple of Zeus and its massive dimensions are still clearly visible. Only a bit smaller than the Parthenon in Athens, it was a classic temple in the Doric style, first built in the 5th century BC.

Other Olympia landmarks include the Prytaneion, a complex where winners were feted and where the eternal flame for the original Olympic games once burned, and the Archaeological Museum, hosting a collection of artifacts, equipment and statues from the early games.

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