OLYMPIA
AND THE OLYMPIC GAMES

Olympia is the mother of the Olympic Games. The ancient Greeks had chosen the most peaceful and picturesque landscape, 2 hours away from the present town of Pyrgos. The Olympic Games and The Amfiktionies were the mostimportant celebrations of all the Greeks. In the plain of Olympia there is one of the most sacred places in the ancient times, the grove of Olympia, that was called Altis. In the enclosure of Altis were built temples and other majestic buildings.

The most important of all, a really majestic building of Altis was the temple of Zeus. Other edifices in Altis was thesanctuary of Pelops, the temple of Hera (Heraion), the Mitroon (temple of Mother of Gods), the parliament, the altar of Zeus, the twelve Treasures (treasuries ofcities that were built in the foot of the sacred hill, called Kronio). There were much more edifices and a great number of statues that decorated Olympia, but many times had been pillaged and the temples had been burnt by barbarous nations. Then big anddestructive earthquakes and floods, of the near rivers Alfeios and Kladeos, destroyed everything !!

From the excavations of 1875 were found somemasterpieces that nowadays decorate Greek and many European museums. Olympia was the center of the ancient Greece because of the Olympic Games. The games according to the tradition started when Pelops won the chariot racesfrom the king of Pisa, Oinomaus. So, he took for a prize his kingdom and got married to his daughter Hippodameia. The history refers that Lycourgus of Spart started the games and Iftos from Ilida. The games were done every fourth year .The Spondoforoi, that were always from a noble race, were starting with their followings to visit the Greek towns just to proclaim truce, and to invite the spectators, the athletes, and the officials that represented their towns to Olympia, for the games.

When the games were starting, the wars had stopped and the people of all around Greece were gathering to view the spectacle sight. The victory of an athlete was the victory of the town he was from. The right of participation to the games had only the free Greek citizens, so it had been forbidden to the slaves to participate to the games. In addition it was not allowed to the women to watch the games, it has mentioned that only once, a woman managed to get in towatch the games, her name was Kalipateira from Rhodes who her father, her brothers and her sons were Olympic Champions!! He managed to do that because she was disguised herself into a man.

This event finished in five days. The first day of the games the athletes were taken the oath and they sacrificed animals to Zeus. The fight, the track, and the pancratium were taking place the next three days. The horse races and the chariot races were taking place to the circus, the last day the winners were being crowned with cotinus and they gave sacrifices to the gods. Cotinus was a branch of sacred wild oil tree, that had been cut with a gold knife by a boy (that had both of his parents. Every Olympic Champion had the right to put his statue in Altis.

The first Olympic Games took place in 776 B.C. The Games every fourth year were taking place until 383 A.C. Nowadays the Olympic Games have international character and are the revival of the ancient Olympics. The pioneer of this revival was the French baron Pier De Kouberten. The first of the latest Olympics were in 1896 in Athens, from this year and every four years all the countries of the universe are gathering in a town. This town is chosen every time by the“ International Olympic Commission ” . The latest Olympics stopped only the times of the two Universal Wars.

After 108 years, the Olympic Torch will return to the citywhere the modern Olympic Games began. Athens in 2004