I love ruins: Adventures in Olympia
What an ancient weekend we've had. While others of you were watching people get married, attending homecomings and doing fall things, we've been immersed in the past.
We began with a return trip to Olympia, in Greece … a place I had visited before, but Pete had missed. I had been enthralled by the site then – the place the Olympic games actually started – and it was no different this time. I love seeing the ruins of that place, and marveling that something that began there has become so important now.
The site of Olympia itself is not, as you might suppose, on the top of a mountain – Mt. Olympus, the god's home – is not even all that close. It is, however, a lovely, tree-shaded park with a number of ruined buildings dotting the landscape.
In the midst of it, near the Temple of Hera, is the place we see every two years where the Olympic flame begins its journey to the place of the current Olympic Games. It frankly doesn't look like much – a stone square where the altar to the goddess was – but when you see the pictures of the flame there, it becomes instantly recognizable.
Pete was excited to see the stadia – the original place where all the events of the original games were held. He couldn't resist running a little – and crossing the finish line in his long-gone youthful fine form!
I really loved the rows and rows of columns. I was also taken by the bases of the Zales – once many statues of the Greek god Zeus, which those found cheating in the Olympic games were forced to erect to advertise their shame. There were so many! I had not supposed that even then there were people intent on winning at all costs.
The museum of Archeological Museum of Olympia was also fascinating – especially the frieze that had previously been on top of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. It is only in bits and pieces, but enthralling, nonetheless. Well worth a visit.
The ancient Olympics ended in ancient times, in 393 A.D., and were revived in 1896 with the advent of the modern Olympic Games, somewhat as we know them. It's interesting to see the changes – even though the ancient Olympics were every bit the spectacle that the modern ones were, the scale is dramatically different, and our modern ceremonies and events would never fit in the ancient site. It's an intriguing contrast between the two.
But it made for great ruins!!