Ancient Olympia~

Olympia Greece is the birthplace of our modern olympic games and is a UNESCO world heritage site. Touring the site is an incredible experience.

Only males could compete in the Ancient Greek Olympics. They slathered each other with olive oil and competed naked. My husband thought my last post was a tad boring, so I decided to ramp things up a tick with some factoids I learned from our Greek historian as we toured Olympia.

Continuing with her narrative, the historian explained that married women were not allowed to attend the games, and if they snuck in, they could be put to death by being thrown off Mount Typaeon. (I don’t know if this ever actually happened.) However, young, “maiden” females were allowed in to “observe”, and prostitutes could, and did attend, apparently doing more business during these olympic days than they typically did all year-long.
Some of this I learned on my own afterwards because enquiring minds do want to know, and the historian sort of skidded over some of it.
Travel is very educational.

The historian clarified the word gymnasium came from Ancient Greek and means males exercising naked.
Females did apparently have their own sort of more minor, separate sporting event at Olympia, but they wore shifts, and only exposed one breast, imitating the Amazons.
I wonder if they were allowed to throw their husbands off Mt. Typaeon if they snuck in? Or let single, young, males, in to “observe”? What would you guess?

The first olympics were held here in the 8th century BC and the first buildings were constructed in 600 BC. The Temple of Zeus was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and is the oldest known Doric building in the world.

Olympia is extensive and takes a full day just to walk. There are twelve houses of treasure, a hippodrome, a stadium, the Paelastra or wrestling school, the Phillippieion an Ionic circular memorial, vaulted tunnels and walkways, a gymnasium, a museum full of statuary and relics, and much more. It was spring when we toured, and the Judas Trees and wildflowers were just starting to bloom which made it all even more incredibly beautiful. April is said to be the best month to visit ancient sites in Greece due to the stunning spring flowers.

In case you want to check out the historian’s factoids (I did), please see:
We are home now, so it’s cheers to you from The Holler~

250 thoughts on “Ancient Olympia~

  1. Gorgeous photos of millennia gone by! The Ancient Greeks all but “invented” leisure! I share some of this info in my university classes when we go over the history of leisure and recreation. I’m surprised the guide didn’t tell you that slaves often competed for the male citizens, so they could continue to sit around and contemplate the philosophies of life 😉

    • She did mention that statues were made of wealthy people that they commissioned like portraits, with standardized bodies, and only the heads customized. Only the truly rich got custom body and head statues. We have been to Greece several times now and the factoids keep getting more and more, errrr personal, and interesting.

        • I just shared this in a reply w. Tina Frisco and thought you would be interested:

          About 30 years ago I took my mother’s Women in History Class (part of her Western Civ series) where I learned all about these amazing women of Ancient Greece, Sappho the poet, the philosopher Arete, the physician Agnodice, the leaders Aphasia & Gorgo. And the religion with female gods like Athena, Demeter, Persephone, Hera and Aphrodite, fascinated me when I was young. The Temple of Athena in Athens is for me the powerful symbol of the power of women I have ever seen.

          • Oh how interesting!! I will have to look into this further. I took Latin for two years in high school and learned a lot about Greek and Roman myths and history. Thanks for sharing, Cindy. Did you know Tina lives in the Bay area? Yay, California bloggers 😀

  2. I doubt women were allowed to throw their husbands off Mt. Typaeon; and young males were probably allowed to do whatever they wanted! But for us women, there is always the Amazons ~ Scythians who lived in the areas north and east of the Mediterranean on the vast steppes of Eurasia. Scythian women fought, hunted, rode horses, used bows and arrows. There is now archaeological evidence that Amazons did exist. As I scrolled through your gorgeous photos, Cindy, I had visions of Amazons competing in Olympic games and daring any man to stop them. They were, after all, fierce warriors 🙂 💕

    • Yes, I agree with you and I love the stories of The Amazons!
      About 30 years ago I took my mother’s Women in History Class (part of her Western Civ series) where I learned all about these amazing women of Ancient Greece, Sappho the poet, the philosopher Arete, the physician Agnodice, the leaders Aphasia & Gorgo. And the religion with female gods like Athena, Demeter, Persephone, Hera and Aphrodite, fascinated me when I was young. The Temple of Athena in Athens is for me the powerful symbol of the power of women I have ever seen.

  3. What a fascinating place to visit (and thanks for the entertaining facts too, Cindy).
    The last image surely shows the loveliest Spring flowers to enhance the visit.

  4. Hello Hello! I’m always excited to see where in the world your are when I find time to visit! Greece! Well now, you are getting an education there, LOL! Naked exercise? Sounds like a spectator sport to me..snicker. They could try and throw me off a mountain but they’d have to catch me first LOL. It’s really stunning on your spring visit. Fascinating how ancient the ruins are! Enjoy your travels my dear!

    • You would have Ancient Greece city father’s in a major dither, no doubt about it. Where’s you time machine? Let’s go! I can take pics of you chasing them around Mt. Typaeon! Wonderful to hear from you and take good care! ❤ 😉

  5. Glorious post,superb photo-series from Ancient Olympia,dear Cindy!We visit the place quite often as our seaside house is in Peloponnese and not far from this region.Excellent work,the Ministry of Culture & Tourism should employ you to write articles for them … Sending love & respect your you ~ Thank you :-)))

    • Thank you for such a kind commentary. I truly wish Greece’s ministry of tourism would employ me to take photos because it would more time in gorgeous Greece! You are fortunate to live in such a scenic and culturally rich area. ❤ ❤

    • History, the world, culture, food, religion people, nature; travel exposes you to it all and occupies all your senses. Obviously we both agree on this which is why we understand each other! ❤

  6. Fascinating! Thanks for taking me to a spot in Greece that I have missed! Even seeing your great pictures imagination starts to run wild about the life that was going on here 🙂

  7. Enjoyed the photos and the factoids… didn’t make it there on my visit to Greece… but now I don’t have to!

  8. Cindy, I was enchanted by the beautiful flowering trees with those gorgeous columns. I have to admit you added some great, fascinating personal details and I admire your enquiring mind! Also, I admire the composition and your photography! xo 💖💐

  9. Fascinating structures, architecturally and culturally. I heard some years ago that at one of the Winter Olympic events, the organized had 50,000 condoms stocked and ready for use. I did not find out whether the supply was sufficient or they had extras after the games ended. Guess one might use sex for celebration of a victory, to sooth the wounds of defeat, or just to “have a good time of it”. Or, did that thing about getting to “second base” only have to do with baseball?

  10. Bonjour ou Bonsoir CINDY belle est notre histoire

    La plus belle des choses que tu possèdes

    Sait ce nouveau jour

    Alors sois heureux ou heureuse

    Aujourd’hui il est à toi

    Décide toi même de ce que tu veux faire

    Travail ou loisir

    Ce jour vis le , emplie le , chante lui ton bonheur

    Dis à ce jour que tu l’aimes et profite d’être là Pour Ce Jour

    Gros bisous Bernard

  11. Wonderfully interesting post (as usual). Enjoyed the pics and the narrative. As a side bar, don’t you think television ratings would increase if modern Olympians slathered each other with olive oil and competed naked? Not sure how the male only thing would fly these days, though. 🙂

  12. I absolutely love your pictures. I will continue to look at them as I imagine myself on the warm Mediterranean Greece coast.

    Jessica |

  13. Pingback: Blogbummel Juni 2017 – 1. Teil – buchpost

  14. Bonjour ou Bonsoir CINDY super beau ton blog

    Un petit passage par chez toi est une joie , un vrai régal même

    Cela pour me dire que je vais bien

    Quand je vole de blogs en blogs

    J’en oublie mes soucis , c’est une vrai promenade

    Mais avant de partir prochainement en vacances

    Des vacances s’ils ont veux bien

    Je tenais à te saluer te souhaiter

    Tout ce qu’il y a de meilleurs pour toi ,profite bien

    De même pour ta petite famille

    Bisous Bernard à BIENTOT

    Un peu de fraicheur

  15. Hi Cindy,
    I love your pictures. Nice work!!!!! 🙂
    Can I use some of them in a brochure and in my website? Is that possible?

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