Katakolon: Gateway To The Ruins Of Olympia
Photos Of Olympia
Olympia - birthplace of the Olympic games
Another port which we eagerly looked forward to visiting was the port of Katakolon located on the western coast of Greece. It is the second busiest port in Greece after Piraeus and made popular by its proximity to Olympia, birthplace of the Olympic games. Like most of Greece, Katakolon is a charming village, overlooked by magnificent hills and fringed by sparkling, blue waters. The ruins of Olympia lie a short drive away to the north of Katakolon.
It was raining again when we got off the bus and set off on a gentle climb to the archeological site of Olympia. This is the place where the Olympic games began 776 BC in honor of the god Zeus. Over 2000 years of history come alive as you enter this large park shaded by tall olive trees standing among huge pillars and ruins of temples, the stadium and other features. Set in the middle of a fertile valley, the site was a sanctuary even before the stadium was built.
Most notable features for me were :
- The place where the torch was first lit - a small rectangle, the torch was kept there and lit by the sun and a lens. If it rained, as it did on the day of our visit, then it would be lit from the previous torch which was always kept lighting.
- The temple of Hera - located near the place where the torch was lit.
- The temple of Zeus - which once housed the 12 meter high gold and ivory statue of the god.
- The hall of shame - This is made up of square, concrete boxes on which the names of athletes who cheated were inscribed. Yes, they cheated back then even though there were no steroids. But once discovered, they had to inscribe their names, their parents' names and their date of birth and it stayed there forever. Our guide told us that in 500 years there were only 16 cheaters. I thought that was remarkable.
- The grass stadium - Oval-shaped, it has dirt in the middle and grass on the surrounding slopes where the spectators sat.
From the ruins we visited the archeological museum located on the complex, but a short distance away. Before going into the museum, we had a short break to use the restrooms and get some refreshment. As an aside, I must mention that I was pleasantly surprised to find that the bathrooms were clean, well kept and supplied with toilet paper, contrary to what I'd heard before I left home. In most places, there was a custodian to direct us to vacant stalls and maintain the cleanliness of the place.
The archeological museum
The museum houses many of the statues, sculptures and artifacts used by the athletes. As you enter the museum there is a model depicting a bird's eye view of ancient Olympia.
We were not allowed to use flash in the museum and by the time I adjusted my camera, I had missed some of the more important statues. Those that stand out in my memory are:
- Nike of Paionios, whose gown seems to flow in the wind, and which is the inspiration for the Nike logo
- the Hermes of Praxiteles, carved of Parian Marble and holding the infant Dionysus;
- instruments used by the athletes to scrape their skin of the dirt and sweat after performing and
- glass works created by the Romans.
After we left Olympia, we were treated to a simple, but satisfying lunch on a farm. Our lunch consisted of bread, beans, cheese, fruit, olive oil and wine. But the highlight of our post-Olympia visit came when the owners and employees of the restaurant put on a Greek dance for us. It was a very pleasant and memorable excursion.
- Olympia: Katakolon Tips - TripAdvisor
Inside Olympia: Katakolon Tips - Before you visit Olympia, visit TripAdvisor for the latest info and advice, written for travelers by travelers.
- Katakolon, Greece
Katakolon, Greece complete guide. Explore the Port of Katakolon, informations about history, taxi, attractions, maps, tours, official visitor guide of Katakolon Greece.