While the Parthenon is still an iconic building of great beauty, as well as one of the most visited in the world, the ruins of the Temple of Olympian Zeus are a tribute to its own history. The Olympieion should not be confused with the temple dedicated to the same god located in Olympia. Travel with Exoticca to the Temple of Olympian Zeus to learn the difference.
Like the Parthenon, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, or the Olympieion, was built with marble blocks. It measured 96 metres by 40 and had 104 Corinthian style columns, each 17 metres high. Only 15 of these are still standing today. Although Hadrian dedicated the temple to Zeus and had a majestic statue of the god built from gold and ivory, he did not neglect to place one of himself alongside, of a similar size. Unfortunately, there are no remains of either.
The curious thing about the construction of the temple is that it was begun by a tyrant, the Greek king Pisistratus, but his son abandoned the project. It was not until the arrival of Hadrian, the Roman conqueror, that building work resumed.
If you are interested in Greek mythology and recent history, you should know that the Temple of Olympian Zeus combines both. A group of people, forming an organisation they call Ellinais, won a series of court cases aimed at gaining recognition for the ancient religious practices of the Greeks. They achieved this in the autumn of 2006. This enabled them, in January 2007, to carry out a ritual/ceremony in honour of Zeus inside the Olympieion.
The Temple of Olympian Zeus was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake. Today you can visit its remains, which reveal its enormous size when it was still standing.
Upon a large grassy esplanade you can see fifteen of its columns, which seem to want to touch the sky, and which are one of the most majestic vestiges of classical Athens.
The temple is located between the avenues of Vasilissis Olgas and Syngrou, east of the Acropolis. To get there by metro, take line two and get off at Akropoli station.
It can be visited every day between 8:00 and 15:00, but is closed in the afternoon, even in summer.
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