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The Olympic Games, held in the town every 4th year after 776 BC made it one of the centres of ancient Greece.
Olympia, Olympics, Modern Olympics, Coubertin, stadion, gymnasium, sports, history of sport, sports event, Olympic flame, competition, 776 BC, Greece, ancient Greece, Peloponnese, antiquity, history, Hera, church, chief god, , Athens, Zeus, Pheidias, religion, victim
Located on the Peloponnese peninsula in present-day Greece, Olympia was the site of the Olympic games in classical times. The first Olympic festival was organised on the site in 776 BC. According to historical sources, the games were held every 4 years, as the main component of the Panhellenic games. The ancient Olympic games included sports events as well as religious events, which were held in honour of the god of gods, Zeus, and his wife Hera. Temples were built for this purpose.
In the temple built for Zeus in the centre of Olympia, there was a 13 m tall statue of the god, which was included in the Wonders of the Ancient World.
Next to this building, there was another temple, built in honour of Hera. Religious ceremonies were held during the Olympic games, like the hecatomb, a sacrifice of 100 oxen offered to the gods at the opening event.
Houses for guests and venues for the sports events were arranged around the religious buildings. The most important ones included the stadion, the site of athletic and fighting events; the hippodromos, the site of chariot races; and the gymnasium, a place to practice.
The first Olympic games included only one sports event, stadion running, but the number of events later increased. The participants, however, remained restricted to free men and boys of Greek descent; women were not allowed to take part, even as spectators.
Eventually, the Olympic Games were suppressed by the Roman Emperor Theodosius in AD 394, because the event was said to be a pagan tradition – which was surely thought inappropriate in what was now supposed to be a Christian empire. The Olympic games were later revived by Baron Pierre De Coubertin with the first modern Olympic games held in Athens in 1896.
The Olympic flame of the modern-day Olympic Games was lit by 11 priestesses in front of the Temple of Hera.
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