The Olympia, Greece reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Apr-2004
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Olympia, Greece

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View of the palestra at Olympia
View onto the training ground
from a room of the palestra.

(large version)

Olympia, a city of ancient Greece in Elis, is known for having been the site of the Olympic Games in classical times, comparable in importance to the Pythian Games held in Delphi. Both games were held every olympiad (i.e. every four years), the Olympic Games dating back at least as far as 776 BC. At the end of the 4th century, emperor Theodosius abolished them.

Olympia is also known for its gigantic Zeus statue made of ivory and gold, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, made by Phidias. It was housed in the temple of Zeus, very close to which a building was excavated which is large enough to have been the studio of Phidias in which he created the statue. Other evidence found at the site corroborates this opinion.

Excavation of the Olympia temple district and its surroundings, mostly conducted by German archeologists in the late 19th and early 20th century, also uncovered the Hermes of Praxiteles statue and the stadium, where the running contests took place.

The Olympic flame of the modern-day Olympic Games is lit by reflection of sunlight in a parabolic mirror at the Olympia stadium and then transported by a torch to the place where the games are to be held.