Today the Temple of Zeus stands in ruins, its 34 massive columns toppled and scattered in pieces around the Sanctuary of Ancient Olympia. But in 457 B.C., it was one the ancient world’s great structures. Built to honor the Greek god Zeus, the temple stood 68 feet high and was crowned with sculpted front and rear pediments. The eastern pediment depicted the chariot race between Pelops and Oenomaus while the Western pediment memorialized the battle of Centaurs and Lapiths, with the god Apollo pointing to the Lapiths to show his preference for a human victory. Inside stood a 43-foot high gold and ivory statue of Zeus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
The temple stood for nearly 900 years. In A.D. 426, hoping to suppress pagan beliefs and subdue the Greeks, Theodosius II ordered the destruction of the entire sanctuary at Ancient Olympia. Within one hundred years, earthquakes and mud slides had buried most of what remained. The site lay forgotten for the next 13 centuries, until being rediscovered in 1766. By 1875, archeological excavations had begun in earnest, and the recovered pediments were pieced together and permanently put on display at the Archeological Museum of Olympia.
Author’s note: I was a guest of Collette during my Exploring Greece and Its Islands, featuring Classical Greece, Mykonos & Santorini tour. However, the receipt and acceptance of complimentary items or services will never influence the content, topics, or posts in this blog. I write the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.