|April 26 – port of Katakolon, Greece [Ka-TACK-a-lon] (Ivan's 70th birthday!)
This small town of 600 is the gateway to Olympics where the first Olympics were staged in 776 B.C. and every 4 years thereafter, until 394 when an emperor banned them after 1,169 years. After a 45 min. bus ride from Katakolon to Olympia we toured some of the 6 acres of the grounds. There really isn't anything left standing because of two violent earthquakes in the 6th century but French and German archaeologists have been excavating and have re-created one column from the Temple of Zeus and one arch leading to the Stadium. We saw outlines and portions of 3 temples, the stadium, gymnasium, and 3 altars. (Most of area is a jumble of stone and marble.) It was interesting to see where the Olympic torch is lit each time, carried to Athens and then out to the world. Their new archaeological museum is lovely and well done.
I'd not realized the depth of the religious importance these games held for the Greeks. It was their way of worshipping Zeus and they took the various events most seriously. Interesting that no women were allowed on the grounds; no explanation given however. We were reminded that Athens because the first site of the games when they were revived in 1896.