The Olympian site: Open May - Oct daily 8am - 7pm; Nov - April Mon - Fri 8am - 5pm, Sat and Sun 8:30am - 3pm;
6 euros, or 9 euros for combined site and museum).
The Olympia Site museum (open Mon noon - 7pm, Tues - Sun 8am - 7pm; winter Mon 10:30am - 5pm,Tues - Sun 8:30 - 5; 6 euros admission).
(Museum interior photo)
The mythology of Olympia has roots in the story of Pelops, whose father Tantalus served him up in a stew to the gods, who didn't know what delicacy they were being served, but soon found out when Demeter took a bite. Zeus had the pieces of meat put back in the cauldron and resurrected Pelops, punishing Tantalus for eternity by forcing him to stand in water up to his chin which receded whenever he stooped to drink. The theme of the resurrected Pelops resonates with the celebration of youth and its regeneration in new victors, as well as the fecundity of earth in this fertile area where the games were held, once the province of Gaea/Gaia, the Earth Mother.
The Alpheios is joined by a second river in the beautiful setting of ancient Olymbia, the Kladeos (from the Greek word for 'branch'). It is a lush, pastoral setting, with canopied oaks, Aleppo pines, plane trees (sycamores), poplars and olive trees. The enclosed sanctuary of Zeus is known as the Altis, to whom the Games were dedicated.