Olympia – home of the Olympic Games

Aloha mai kakou,

I don’t expect that there are any readers out there, but as I have photos and stories yet unposted, and a plea to tell the stories, I will finish off my 2009 huaka’i to Greece and Italy.  One more dinner with friends and one more lunch for colleagues and that’ll probably wrap up the Greek stories.

I”ve seen the movie twice (on an airplane the second time), but I only read the blog Julie/Julia for the first time last week.  Enticing, inspiring and deserving of all the that has transpired since, the one thing I wanted from the blog were photos.  Did they used to be there?  Posting pics has been a bane, but because they are really people really want to see, I have posted several.

 21 October 2009 – Olympia, Greece

I didn’t get to visit Mt. Olympus, home of the gods, as I’d hoped, but I did get to ancient Olympia, home of the original Olympic games.

There are many stories as to how the Olympic games were begun:  a footrace among five brothers, a battle for a fair maiden’s hand in marriage, of divine victory of Zeus over his mean father Cronus, but all agree that the locale is sacred ground and the games are held in honor of Zeus.

Ancient games in Olympia are documented as far back as 776 B.C., but they may date back even further.  Friendly and not-so-friendly competitions were held and spectators came from far and wide to watch. 

A sacred truce was in effect for all then-Greek states throughout the period the games were held.  The games also provided a venue and reason for leaders from throughout the region to come together, in peace, resulting in negotiations among state leaders.

Athletes trained in the gymnasium, but were also cared for in mind and soul.  They sported nothing but Greek musk, but female athletes were full covered.

Although females could compete in certain events, they could not watch!

See the photo below where the men in our group, ranging in age from 10 to 80, sprinted on the track in the stadium.

The names of the winners were placed in stone outside the sacred entrance to the stadium for all to see. 

Interestingly, cheaters were ostracized.  The cheater and his family were usually required to have a statue made in Zeus’ image with the name of the cheater placed near to shame.  This backfired, however, as even then some who believed that any-publicity-is-good-publicity.

 Due to warfare among states, the last of the ancient Olympics was held in the 4th century A.D. and the entire sanctuary was shut down in 426 A.D. 

The modern Olympic Games were revived in Athens in April1896 and open to nations around the world.  They were held in Greece out of respect to the original games.

OlympiaOlympia, Greece, UNESCO Heritage SiteTemple of HeraTemple of HeraTemple of HeraEntrance to StadiumStadium at OlympiaOlympia - Temple of HeraThe victors names in stone at the entrance to the stadiumTemple of HeraA laurel wreath awaiting its champion TV crew happened to be there as the Olympic Flame was to be lit the very next day, embarking on its journey to the Winter Olympics in British Columbia, Canada.OlympiaTemple of ZeusOlympiaPalaestra at OlympiaThe LeonidaionThe Leonidaion









Archaeological Museum at Olympia

This museum holds a visualized model of Olympia in ancient times and many relics unearthed from the area.

 such detail...

One of Heracles' laborsThe Bull

Hermes of Praxiteles

Sometimes it's good to get diverse perspectives.  Sometimes it's REALLY good... Hermes of Praxiteles
Olympia MuseumOlympiasuch detail!

After a local lunch, we pointed ourselves north.  The main stop was an award-winning feat in engineering, the Rion-Antiron Bridge at Patra.  After crossing it to re-enter mainland Greece, we drove along the coastline and ascended to Delphi.

Near our lunchstop, I found the best old radio collection

Womenanother old radioTasting olive oils and wines...shouldn't  have had a big lunch!

Approaching bridge at Patrabridge cablesPatra BridgeRion-Antirion BridgePatrasOn the bridge at PatraSTOP - on all stop signs in Greece.  What is 'stop' in Greek?  Doesn't matter. 

Kim Ku’ulei Birnie