The Statue of Zeus at Olympia
The statue of Zeus in the temple at Olympia stood more than 40 feet high (Copyright Lee Krystek, 2011)
In ancient times one of the Greeks most mportant festivals, the Olympic Games, was held every four years in honor of the King of their gods, Zeus. Like our modern Olympics, athletes traveled from distant lands, including Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt and Sicily, to compete. The Olympics were first started in 776 B.C. and held at a shrine to Zeus located on the western coast of Greece in a region called Peloponnesus. The games helped to unify the Greek city-states and a sacred truce was declared. Safe passage was given to all traveling to the site, called Olympia, for the season of the games.
The Temple at Olympia
The site consisted of a stadium - where the competitions were actually done - and a sacred grove, or Altis, where a number of temples were located. The shrine to Zeus here was simple in the early years, but as time went by and the games increased in importance, it became obvious that a new, larger temple, one worthy of the King of the gods, was needed. Between 470 and 460 B.C., construction on a new temple was started. The designer was Libon of Elis and his masterpiece, The Temple of Zeus, was completed in 456 B.C..
Seven Quick Facts
Location: Peloponnesus (Modern Greece)
Built: Around 432 BC
Function: Shine to Greek God Zeus
Destroyed: Fire 5th Century A.D.
Size: Height around 40 ft. (12m)
Made of: Ivory and gold-plated plates on wooden frame.
Other: Remains of the workshop where it was built was found during an excavation in the 1950's
This temple followed a design used on many large Grecian temples. It was similar to the Parthenon in Athens and the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus. The temple was built on a raised, rectangular platform. Thirteen large columns supported the roof along the sides and six supported it on each end. A gently-peaked roof topped the building. The triangles, or "pediments,"...