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. Such a pretty time of year to be there, Cindy. I bet the men were more prone to sneak in to watch the women….chuckle.

  2. Lot of new things to learn here Cindy. I never knew the meaning of gymnasium. A very interesting post. Thanks for sharing

  3. I’m so glad that women today are participating in the Games! I enjoyed taking the tour with you around such a magnificent site. Like you, I am in awe of all that has occurred there! Great post, Cindy โ™ฅ

  4. Magnificent captures! What a special post, Cindy.
    We were there 10 years ago, I was using a cyber shot pocket camera, and took only a few photos. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Enjoyed your pictures
    I really think the Olympics should have a permanent home where they began (OH, OK the winter ones can go to nearby mountains – like maybe the Swiss Alps) No doubt they’d have to adjust the audience rules a big now HAHA

  6. I’ve been in Olympia and I even sat myself in the starting postition at the running court. (Nobody was willing to fire the starting pistol though ๐Ÿ™‚ ) I do think young males (providing they were well build) were alowed to ‘observe’ the athletic ladies. Purely educational of course, purely educational.

      1. Hi Cindy,
        here is a very informative article about women and Olympics in Ancient Greece. I am sure you will enjoy reading it!
        Unmarried women were allowed to get in and watch the games and there is the story about Kallipateira , she got in to watch her son, who was participating,disguised as a trainer.

        1. Thanks my friend and I read about Kallipateira. She was discovered, but not punished, if I remembering correctly, because, both her widowed husband and son were olympiads, so they gave her a break. After her successful ruse, visitors had to disrobe to prove they were not wives (or widows).

  7. How absolutely wonderful. Oiled up and running naked…hmmmm…what if they played football and basketball that way. I think they would be a bit different, don’t you? Always controlling the women…while men get to do whatever they like. Blah. They will kill us for tiny things like “looking” at something. How insane is THAT? Gorgeous post and the trees and flowers are incredible.

    1. They wrestled that way. I read somewhere about men from other countries seeing oiled up naked men wrestling naked in the dirt at The Olympics and wondering what was up! It would be quite a spectacle. I think of Ancient Greece as having atypical positions of influence for women in terms of powerful female gods and temples in their honor, women being allowed to own property, etc., but this was discouraging to learn about. It was not just the sexual control of females, but the obvious attempts to restrict what married women in particular could see and know about the sexual behavior of their husbands. This dynamic still operates today in more ways than most people imagine.

  8. Very much enjoyed your pictures and history lesson. I made a lengthy comment, but it was interrupted and closed somehow before being finished, so, unless it goes with the post in, I will forget it. Here is another story, also true. When going through the Pilgrim’s Plantation in Plymouth, MA, we tourists walked about with pride at the reproduction of life as it took place in 1620 or so, waaay back. Then, I saw some German tourists walking by and was brought to clear thinking when I realized that Lowenbrau Beer had been brewed for about three hundred years before the Pilgrims arrived. Good work! Save those sights in situ and in photographs.

    1. I agree. The age differential is simply incredible isn’t it. We are talking buildings that are 2700 years old and still standing. Absolutely stunning isn’t it!

  9. Pingback: A gorgeous and informative post from Cindy, do not miss this one. Find out the real meaning of the word gymnasium and one more reason men chose to kill women…it’s all here in, Ancient Olympia~ | Rethinking Life

  10. >>> “They slathered each other with olive oil and competed naked.”

    >>> “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.”

    Cindy, your husband won’t be disappointed; boring, this is not! One of my great unfulfilled dreams is to visit Greece. There’s so much culture, history, and beauty to admire.

    1. Laughing…..he’s not saying anything! I remember being in Greece about 10 years ago with our kids and seeing some incredibly graphic ancient artwork. They were certainly a passionate and fascinating culture! I do very much hope you go and spend some serious time in Greece. Everyday you will learn something new.

  11. Oh, my, how things have changed! I can’t imagine exercising naked, even in the privacy of my own home. Beautiful photos, Cindy, and your tour guide was right about the spring flowers and trees.

    1. Wouldn’t it be awesome to teach just one high-school class history session for bored, attitudinal adolescents? Of course you would never be asked back, but consider how much fun it would be??? If this had happened to me in high-school, I would actually have stayed awake for at least one hour in three years.

  12. Beautify pictures from the place! I like the story or the history about male and female roles during event. Yes, I am wondering about the same thing as you mentioned but I guess, gender role are quite different than now.

    1. Oh I know! I imagine this all the time. How incredible it would be to be able to pop in (and out) at will, appropriately dressed, so you could blend in. Just imagine……

  13. The flowers in bloom make it all the more beautiful I’m sure. And with its history and culture a place of untold kept secrets only the Greek gods would know. ๐Ÿ™‚ Funny that the tour guide would not elaborate on some of it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. ” And with its history and culture a place of untold kept secrets only the Greek gods would know.” I love this sentence. <3 It describes the whole ancient, secretive, spectacular nature of the place. Thank you for sensing this. I suppose the historian was a bit concerned about how the information might be received. I can understand her reticence, but when I encounter this sort of evasion, it just makes me dig deeper!

    1. So many incredible places in Greece. How could you possibly see them all…..yet! ๐Ÿ˜‰ This is what we live for, right??? Going to Delos very off season would be pure magic because you might have the place to yourself, along with the cats of course. I want to go to Meteora. We were so close but couldn’t get to everything. Greece is one of those magic places where the more you see, the more you realize you haven’t seen…..

      1. I am a non- chauvinist but feel the same about my country! There’s something here for everyone… We went to Meteora a couple of months ago and it was out of this world! I suggest you try to go in winter, because it would be even more dramatic: soft light, fog, snow, empty trees… and not so many tourists of course. Also it’s best to stay in Kastraki (a tiny village overlooking the rocks), there’s a small hotel (Doupiani House) with the most outstanding views!

    1. I guess the strangest thing to me is that we western civilization folks really haven’t improved much entoto, have we, since the Ancient Greeks, 3000 years ago? And more concernedly, we seem to have significantly devolved. But that is my bias speaking, as an American now, with our current President, and his familial unvetted administration. It is pretty freaking depressing. The Ancient Greeks seem so overwhelmingly more intelligent and evolved, it is a preponderance of factors; their philosophers, their writing, their architecture, their logic (especially the logic) that informs how I think now about how poorly we have evolved since them.

  14. I’ve always liked the word, “gymnasium” and now, I know why! ๐Ÿ˜€ I could get lost in your mesmerizing photos of antiquity. Ah, if only stones could talk…

  15. It’s a beautiful (and beautifully photographed) place. The flowering trees look like what we call “redbud” trees in the eastern US.

    The facts/factoids/speculations are both fun and good balancers against the understandable temptation to idolize ancient Greece.

    1. Yes! “The facts/factoids/speculations are both fun and good balancers against the understandable temptation to idolize ancient Greece.”
      I love this summation. The Ancient Greeks were people too!

  16. I enjoyed the tidbits of history that we’re never taught in school. Olive oil and naked is quite interesting. Your post was definitely not boring, Cindy. Wonderful tour of your journey to the site of ancient Greece. <3

  17. Wonderful, Cindy! So glad there is no graffiti here! Very glad!
    Not only is this visit educational for you, I get to learn, too!

  18. 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. 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.

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

          About 30 years ago I took my motherโ€™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.

          1. 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 ๐Ÿ˜€

  19. 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ’•

    1. 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.

      1. How wonderful that you had the opportunity to visit it, Cindy. Greece and the Greek Isles have always topped my travel bucket list. I hope to scratch them off someday โ™ฅ

  20. 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.

  21. 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!

    1. 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! <3 ๐Ÿ˜‰

  22. 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 :-)))

    1. 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. <3 <3

      1. It would be just fine!Your top quality photos and your presentation enhance the beauty of each place!Why thank you for your laudatory reply,dear Cindy!Greece is a small country,but with rich historic heritage and natural beauty ๐Ÿ™‚ <3<3<3

    1. 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! <3

  23. 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. 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 ๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ’

      1. Ancient ruins are so romantic in their vines and flowering trees in the spring! I’m so glad you captured this at a perfect time of year. Cheers to you, dear! ๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ’ฎ

  25. You deserve a medal for your concise commentary and amazing photos!
    โ™กโ˜†*.+:๏ฝกไบบไบบไบบไบบ ๏พŸ.+:๏ฝกใƒฝ(ยดโˆ€๏ฝ€)๏พ‰๏พŸ.+:๏ฝกโ˜†* ไบบไบบไบบไบบโœบโ™ก

    1. Thank you. I prefer this <3 โ™กโ˜†*.+:๏ฝกไบบไบบไบบไบบ ๏พŸ.+:๏ฝกใƒฝ(ยดโˆ€๏ฝ€)๏พ‰๏พŸ.+:๏ฝกโ˜†* ไบบไบบไบบไบบโœบโ™ก <3 to any medal though! <3

  26. 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?

  27. Bonjour ou Bonsoir CINDY belle est notre histoire

    La plus belle des choses que tu possรจdes

    Sait ce nouveau jour

    Alors sois heureux ou heureuse

    Aujourd’hui il est ร  toi

    Dรฉcide toi mรชme de ce que tu veux faire

    Travail ou loisir

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

    Dis ร  ce jour que tu l’aimes et profite d’รชtre lร  Pour Ce Jour

    Gros bisous Bernard


      1. Visiting the islands in the summers, we learned how flat and desert-like the sea can be, but usually the rocky coasts with their protected inlets and occasional surrounding trees are quite restorative: clear water, gentle swells, one breath after another of pure air. More an an escape, an arrival.

  28. 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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

  30. Bonjour ou Bonsoir CINDY super beau ton blog

    Un petit passage par chez toi est une joie , un vrai rรฉgal mรชme

    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 ร  te saluer te souhaiter

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

    De mรชme pour ta petite famille

    Bisous Bernard ร  BIENTOT

    Un peu de fraicheur


  31. pamarakos

    Hi Cindy,
    I love your pictures. Nice work!!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Can I use some of them in a brochure and in my website? Is that possible?

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