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Olympia

The stadium is full of life this hot summer day, as the athletes and judges enter through a long, narrow passage , better known as “The Crypt”, amid loud cheers of enthusiasm. People from all over Greece have arrived here in Olympia to watch or take part in the Olympic Games, the sporting games to honor Zeus, father of gods and men. Some are here to set eyes on the statue of Zeus, rumored to be one of the most splendid in the world. Others are here to take part in the games hoping to win so their victory will be chronicled and written down so that future generations will come to know all about it. War and conflict are banished from Olympia, since during the Games an Olympic Truce is enacted so that the athletes can safely participate. The prize they compete for is an olive wreath from the evergreen forests around Olympia along with eternal fame. Olympia is more than a sports center; it is the perfect place for each city to enhance their political alliances or even make new allies and display their power and wealth. Artists are also attracted to the sporting spectacle. It is an opportunity for them to engage in their own competitions while enjoying the reverence and atmosphere of Olympia and its related activities.

All the above are merely a glimpse of the past splendor of ancient Olympia. Today archaeological treasures from more than 2,000 ago can be seen in the Archaelogical Museum of Ancient Olympia in the north of Peloponnese; these artifacts and remnants will help you to formulate an accurate picture of what Olympia used to be and, more importantly, what it means today for the people of Greece.

Every four years a special ceremony takes place here: The Lighting of the Olympic Flame, which then travels around the world to reach its final destination – the host country in which the Olympic Games are taking place. The ceremony is mystical in nature; the flame is lit by a parabolic mirror in front of the Temple of Hera that manages to retain some of its past splendor, like most of the ruins of Olympia.

In the Third part of our Trilogy of trips we will walk on these ancient holy lands and follow the footsteps of thousands of Greek athletes from years and years ago. The ruins here tell a tale of past magnificence and powerful importance. From the rigid Temple of Hera to the ruins of the old stadium, every rock on Olympia carries a significant meaning and a special importance. It is here that the athletes sweated, fought and bled, following the principles of fair play for a prize so humble. It is here, also, where the spectators cheered for their favorite runners or booed when they were unsatisfied with the results. If you close your eyes and open your heart, you may still hear them and experience the enchanting spell cast upon you by Olympia.