Peloponese Penninsular, Olympia, Greece Week 113 May 31st - June 1st 2013
The Peloponese Penninsular is joined to the rest of Greece at Corinth.

We'll get to the canal later.

In the meantime there's a convenient bridge for us.

The Rio - Antirrio Bridge across the Gulf of Corinth.

Officially Charilaos Trikoupis Bridge.

19th century Greek Prime Minister who thought it would be a good idea but didn't have the resources.


2.8 km long.

The second longest multi span cable stay bridge in the world.


The cable stays are configured as the strings of a harp. Just a little different to a fan where they all meet at the tower.

Different to a suspension bridge where  there's a loop of cable between the towers with vertical cables then to the deck.

We liked the Moire patterns.

It seems we drove over it at just the right time of day.
We planned to drive through the Vouraikos Gorge towards Kalavrita.

We're not sure if we are in the right gorge as reconciling the paper map and gps is proving a bit difficult.

So we turned right at Diakofto and stopped up the hill for water.

Diakofto is on the coast in the distance.

The bridge is quite a few km to the west (left).

We rapidly reached 1,000  m again.
We've seen a lot of poppies.

Looked like they were being deliberately grown on Lefkada.

The old railway station at Kalavrita.
And memorial to a 1943 execution by Germans of the village youths.

The ages looked like 13 to 17.

Nicely nestled in the valley.

The largest town we've found in the mountains.

Seems to be a Greek thing to have squares and shade.
Next stop Olympia.

We've been in Greece for 9 days and not seen an ancient monument.

The valley seems to go in the right direction and the road is on the valley floor for a change.

But then there's the usual up and over.

We stopped at the top on a short stretch of old road.

1,201 m

And admired the view in both directions.

There's a village below us.

There's a family of raptors using the saddle for gliding practice.

They disappear as the camera appears.

We are on our way to Olympia.

As we drive south there are plateaux with agriculture.

The road improves, and the sea is visible.
For some reason the road goes through the middle of Olympia (the town).

The Olympia we are interested in is The Sanctuary of Zeus.

The Pillippeion. 4th century BC.

Circular as a symbol of the rising Macedonian culture pushing against the Greek.

18 outer ionic columns (remember the scrolly bits at the top) and 9 inner corinthian half columns.

Erected by Phillip II after the battle of Chaerona, 338 BC in which the Macedonians beat an alliance of some Greek city states.

Macedonia is now the name that Greece is claiming and keeping Macedonia (the country to the north) out of the European Union.

Phillip was assasinated after aligning the Greek city states but before he could wage war on Persia.

That task fell to his son, Alexander the Great.

Temple of Hera. 7th century BC. The oldest temple in the sanctuary.

6 x 16 doric columns (remember the unadorned tops and simple bases).

The pediment, the bit that sits on top of the columns at each end, has been reconstructed in the museum (see later).

The Metroon.

6 x 11 doric columns.

Dedicated to the Mother of Gods, Rhea as worshipped by the Mycenaeans.

Cronus (Kronos) heard a prophecy he would be dethroned by one of his own children (by Rhea who was his sister) so he devoured Rhea's five sons.

When Zeus was born Rhea gave Cronus a stone which he devoured.

Zeus survived and despatched Cronus to the underworld.

And Zeus founded the Olympic Games.

He also gave Cronus an emetic so he gave up the stone and the siblings.

We'll hopefully see the Omphalous Stone at Delphi.

There were 16 of these bases. Each with a bronze statue of Zeus.

Many Zeuses is Zanes.

They were funded from the fines imposed on athletes who cheated.

The names were inscribed.

Has nothing changed?

The original Olympics were held around 776 BC.

The stadium was moved to here from close by around 5th century BC.

This monumental entrance about 2nd century BC.

The stadium could hold about 45,000.

That's Ali about to receive her medal for walking to the middle of the stadium without any other tourists or spectators present.

The original Olympics had one event. The one stade (about 192m) race. Won by Coroebus, a cook.

The last ancient games were held in 393 AD when the Christian Roman Emperor Theodosius I decreed that such pagan cults be banned.

The South Portico. 4th century BC.

The sanctuary had a walled section.

The outer columns are corinthian (remember the flowery bits) and the inner doric.

After all our travels this is the first site we've really seen all three types of columns in one place, and the only one where more than one column type is used in the same building.


Temple of Zeus. 470-457 BC

6 x 13 doric columns.

It originally held the 13m high ivory and gold statue of Zeus. One of the 7 wonders of the ancient world.

We were whistled at here. The wooden steps up to this level were roped off. We stepped over. Still on the wood.

I was interested in how the Greeks made small buildings look large and imposing.

The Leonidaion. 4th century BC.

A large rectangular building for the officials.

The outer columns ionic, the inner doric.

Pheidias Workshop was converted into the Christian Basilica.

Obviously (!) some time AD.

Deeper down were neolithic finds.

The crosses either side in front of where the altar may have been are a small hint that its the Basilica.

The old museum shop. Late 20th century.

Now closed as the museum has a new shop.

Next to the museum.

We didn't have to walk through the shop to enter or exit the museum.

We bought combined tickets for site and museum (Euro 9 each).

Silly ticket seller tried to short change me with two 50 cent coins.

Pediment from the Temple of Hedra.

The museum is a timeline from prehistoric (around 4300 BC) to when Olympia was destroyed.

All sorts of pottery, bronzes, etc.

And the sculptures from the west pediment of the Temple of Zeus.

Always wanted to see a centaur.

Its a depiction of the battle between lapiths and centaurs.

Basically the centaurs got drunk at a wedding, tried to rape the bride, and the lapiths tried to stop them.

Centre stage is a 3m high Apollo imposing calm.

In Pheidias Workshop, which became the Basilica, were found moulds from which the folds in garmets were made for the sculptures.
Top of a corinthian column.

The destruction of Olympia was ordered by Theodosius II in 426 AD and the earthquakes of 522 and 551 AD finished the job.

After that the site was progressively covered in silt until rediscovered by an Englishman in 1776.

The stadium centre is in red to the right on the map.

The colours convey the era in which different parts were built.

The small red bit in the middle is the Temple of Zeus.

The grey square at bottom left is the Leonidaion for the officials.

The other large square bit above it is for athlete preparation and training.

The hill to the north is Kronos.

Just a minor suggestion for improvement - this map was in the museum, the brochure map we were given didn't have the colours and had different numbers. And none of the interpretive signs next to buildings had any numbers, but had slightly different names and there were more signs than numbers..

So after a busy morning we set off east.

Note to selves.

Have a look inside a Greek Church.

The design seems scaleable.

We hadn't really expected another gorge.

Our road was high on the side.

We decided not to drive down one of the tracks to the bottom.

Lagkadia is hung on the side of the mountain.

Even the graveyard is terraced.

We found a campsite a couple of km east.

Up a maintenance track for communications towers.

Mycenae and Midea, Greece Week 114 June 2nd 2013

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