The ancient Greeks chose one of the most picturesque parts of the Peloponnese, as the place of worship of Zeus and the Olympic Games; an area of special natural beauty, at the foot of the Cronios hill and the green valley of the mythical river Alfeios, at the point where the tributary of Kladeos meets the Alpheios river.
Here, in Olympia, as the Greeks believed, the Olympian gods were the first to launch the games. Zeus defeated Saturn in battle, while Apollo defeated Mars in fist fight and Mercury in running. Since then, the Sanctuary of Olympia is recognized nationwide as the pre-eminent sport-religious center with radiance and impact in the then known world.
Ancient Olympia's Municipality & Olympism
THE OLYMPIC FLAME RELAY CEREMONY AND TORCH RUN
The revival of the Olympic games of 1896 in Greece, led to a series of symbolic revivals, such as the ancient Torch run. The first torch run and Relay Ceremony of the Olympic Flame in its modern form was presented in 1936 at the Berlin Olympics, although there are numerous torch relay reports between 1896 and 1936. Baron Pierre De Coubertin, after many consultations with important people of the time, began to cultivate and mature the idea of the Flame in the circles of the modern Olympic Movement. The paternity of the idea of conducting the torch run from Greece to Germany for the Olympic Games of Berlin is attributed to Carl Diem, chairman of the German Olympic Committee, who together with our Ioannis Ketseas, had the final idea of the Torch run and the Olympic Flame Relay.
Since then, the Relay of the OLYMPIC Flame and the ceremony were established in Ancient Olympia, linking the modern Olympic Games with the Apollonius Light and the multitude of symbolisms that accompanies them.
After the Relay Ceremony in Olympia’ s ancient stadium, the Olympic Flame is carried out around the world, in order to unify, in a symbolical manner, the 5 continents achieving an ultimate aim; the reinforcement of the Olympic Truce importance, the cease of fire during the Olympic games and the realization of the human dream for Worldwide Peace.
The Relay Ceremony and Torch Run of the Olympic Flame always cultivate feelings of friendship and fellowship among young people all over the world and is the hope for worldwide peace.
The Municipality of Ancient Olympia, in the context of the Olympic Day celebration, which has been established and is celebrated worldwide every year on June 23, aiming to promote the Olympic values and the Olympic movement in general, organizes relevant events always dedicated to the first President of the International Olympic Committee, Dimitrios Vikelas, who made a decisive contribution to the successful revival of the Olympic Games, but also to the subsequent consolidation of the institution.
The Municipality of Ancient Olympia in collaboration with the International Olympic Truce Foundation have been working on an initiative for the global recognition and securing of the Olympic Truce, the highest asset of the Olympic Games.
To further strengthen the peaceful message of the Olympic Games, we established in 2016, on the occasion of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the signing of the Declaration of the Olympic Truce. For this purpose, we chose the sacred site of Olympia, which is full of symbolisms and ancient monuments of Olympia, a world cultural heritage as they bring along from the depths of the centuries the most beautiful humanitarian values of Friendship, Peace and Brotherhood.
The signing ceremony of the modern Olympic Truce according to ancient standards, took place for the first time in front of the temple of Hera, where the disk of Ifitos was kept, on which was engraved the Holy Truce of the ancient Olympic Games, the longest lasting act of peace, that lasted for more than a thousand years, calling for the weapons to be laid down and that all hostilities be ceased around the world, throughout the period of the Games, so that we can give Peace and the Reconciliation of people a chance to prevail.
The authenticity of the sacred text was endorsed by the Mayors of the cities of Olympia, Ilida and Sparta, symbolically representing the three ancient cities that had signed the sacred Truce.
Since 2016, this effort has been repeated on the occasion of each Olympic Flame Relay Ceremony, with great success, and the Declaration of Olympic Truce has been signed by the President of the Hellenic Republic Mr. Prokopios Pavlopoulos, the President of the International Olympic Committee Mr. Thomas Bach, the President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee Mr. Spyros Kapralos, the Vice Presidents of the International Center of Olympic Truce Mr. George Papandreou and Mrs. Fani Palli-Petralia, prominent members of the Olympic movement, heads of state, ministers, ambassadors of countries and other important Greek and foreign personalities.
This effort, which takes place each time with the Olympic Flame Relay Ceremony, aims to make this call for Peace from the sacred Temple of Hera, the first criteria of the Olympics.
At the same time, the Municipality of Ancient Olympia and the Central Union of Greek Municipalities signed a joint declaration of principles for the promotion of the Truce at the level of Cities. The effort is already bearing fruit, as Municipal councils across the country are making relevant decisions.
THE MUSEUM OF THE MODERN OLYMPIC GAMES
The Museum of Modern Olympic Games was founded in Olympia in 1961. Its inspirer was the fan, art lover and philatelist George Papastefanou – Provatakis. The Museum of the Olympic Games exhibits material covering the modern Olympic Games and a unique collection of stamps. Olympic medals, torches, photos and posters of competitions, pins , commemorative series of stamps and coins and much more from summer and winter Olympic Games.
In 1964 the building where the Museum was housed and the material of its collections came into the ownership of the Olympic Games Committee with a donation of Georgios Papastefanou, who, inspired by the Olympic Spirit, enriched the material of the Museum. In 1968, construction work began on a new building to house the Museum, and on July 27, 1972, the new 400-square-meter Museum of Modern Olympic Games was inaugurated, under the auspices of the Ephorate of the International Olympic Academy. After the earthquake of June 8, 2008 the building suffered several damages and in 2010, the operation of the museum was stopped.
After a series of negotiations and the securing of funds, the museum was granted by the EOE to the Municipality of Ancient Olympia in collaboration with the Region of Western Greece have undertaken its reconstruction and the improvement of the exhibition program with several additions, in an effort to further highlight the role of Olympia as the birthplace of the Olympic Movement. At the same time, it will highlight both its educational dimension and its decisive contribution to the social and economic development of the area.
THE MUSEUM OF THE HISTORY OF THE OLYMPIC GAMES
Thanks to the first consecutive excavations of the German Archaeological School and the donor Andreas Syggros, the first museum near an excavation was built in 1883-1886, in order to house its findings. It was the only of its kind in the entire Mediterranean area, the very first regional Archaeological Museum of Greece, on the occasion of the first Olympic Games. Since May 2004, after its renovation, it is operating as a Museum of the Ancient Olympic Games, with exhibits from other cities of Ancient Greece.