Temple of Olympian Zeus
ΝΑΟΣ ΤΟΥ ΟΛΥΜΠΙΟΥ ΔΙΟΣ
In 131/2 AD, in a magnificent ceremony, Emperor Hadrian inaugurated the Temple of Olympian Zeus, for which construction had begun in the 6th century BC but was concluded with the generous donation of the Emperor. The gigantic temple of the Corinthian order across from the Acropolis was twice the size of the Parthenon and its interior housed the chryselephantine (made of gold and ivory) statue of Zeus.
Located South-East of Hadrian's Arch, the temple covered a surface of approximately 5,000 sq m and was symmetrically positioned in a rectangular enclosure with a perimeter of 673 m. This immense terrace is surrounded by a strong precinct of porous stone, with a hundred buttresses, at a distance over 5 meters each. The total perimeter is 668 m. (2188 ft.) approaching the 4 stadia indicated by Pausanias.
The site of the Olympieion was a place of worship of chthonic deities and of ancient Athenian heroes of Athens since prehistory. Located in southern Athens, between the Acropolis and the Ilissos river, the Olympieion was the sanctuary of Olympian Zeus. Here stands one of the greatest ancient temples of Zeus and, according to Vitruvius, one of the most famous marble buildings ever constructed. The sanctuary's foundation is attributed to mythical Deukalion. The site also comprises the temple of Apollo Delphinios - traditionally associated with Thesseus - and a tripartite building with a south courtyard of ca. 500 BC, identified as the Delphinion Court, which was allegedly founded by Aegeas.
In 174 B.C. Antioch IV Epiphanes, King of Syria and a fervent friend of Athens, resumed the interrupted work on the plans of the Roman architect Cossutius, who enlarged the temple and made it more magnificent by adopting marble over porous stone. The grandeur of it was so manifest that the contemporary historian Titus Livius wrote that "the temple of Zeus the Olympian, in Athens is the only one in the world worthy of the majesty of the God. "
Of this immense building which contained a real forest of columns, no more than 16 are now standing, crowned by their architraves; one column was pulled down during the Turkish occupation and transported in pieces for the erection of a mosque, still to be seen in Monastiraki Square; and the 18th was thrown down by a violent storm in 1852. The Turks calcined all the columns that had been lain on the ground as a result of earthquakes.
After the death of King Antioch in 165 the construction was once more stopped, followed by a new pillage of material lying on the ground. Sylla, the greater destructor of Athens, carried away to Rome some of the columns together with numerous other masterpieces of Greece. It was Emperor Hadrian who was meant to complete -with all due magnificence- this venerable work and inaugurate it in 129, amidst Panhellenic feasts, instituted on that occasion.
During the Middle Ages this grand temple underwent the hardest trials until one unfortunate day an earthquake laid it down in ruins. During the dark days of the Turkish occupation a stylite installed his cell on one of the isolated columns of the great temple...
On the large platforms all around the temple there was a multitude of statues, votive offerings and other works of art. Pausanias mentions particularly two statues of the Emperor Hadrian in Thassos marble and two others in Egyptian marble or alabaster. There was also a bronze statue of Zeus, a temple of Cronos and Rhea, and a very old sanctuary of the Olympian Earth.
Zeus, the "Cloud-Gatherer" (Νεφεληγερέτης), known to the Romans as Jupiter, is the father of gods and men, supreme ruler of Mount Olympus, lord of the sky, lightning, thunder, law, order, justice. Youngest child of the Titans Cronus and Rhea. Symbols include the thunderbolt, eagle, oak tree, scepter, and scales. He is as unpredictable in his wrath as he is in his storms on earth. Brother and husband of Hera, although he had many lovers, also brother of Poseidon, Hades, Demeter, and Hestia.
The stupendous size of the shafts of these columns (for they are six feet in diameter, and sixty feet in height) does not more arrest the attention of the spectator than the circumstance of there being no fallen ruins on or near the spot, which was covered with one hundred and twenty columns, and the marble walls of a temple abounding in statues of gods and heroes, and a thousand offerings of splendid piety.
John Cam Hobbhouse, 1813
... it was the last day of the carnival (last Monday of the end of Lent carnival), and ... there would be a large congregation of the Athenians outside the town, at the columns of the Temple of Jupiter, to regale themselves with the simple refections of olives and bread, and the small wine of the country, and to amuse themselves with national dances ... I found the assembly very merry over their frugal repast.
George Cochrane, Wanderings in Greece, 1837.
Guided Private Tour from Athens through Privatetour.gr
Tour starts at Syntagma Square and from there you will go to the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Acropolis and the Parthenon, Stoa of Attalos, the ancient Agora and the Museum of Ancient Agora, and the Temple of Hephaestus, the historic neighborhood of Plaka. A magnificent walking tour to the Olympian Gods of Athens and the ancient Greek world at your own pace. You will have with you a licensed private guide. For additional information and reservations click here!
|Athens Night Segway Tour |
See the highlights of Athens by night on this evening Segway tour, led by an expert local guide! On your self-balancing electric Segway, explore buzzing neighborhoods like Plaka and Thesseion, and then head up the brightly lit Acropolis of Athens for panoramic nighttime views of the city. See classical ruins like the Ancient Agora of Athens and then head back into the city center to see more illuminated attractions such as the iconic Temple of Zeus. This small-group evening Segway tour is limited to 12 people, ensuring you’ll receive special attention from your guide.