Temple Of Olympian Zeus

Things to Do in Athens

Photo Image of Temple Of Olympian Zeus
Image courtesy of Deposit Photos


When you conjure an image of Zeus, head of the Olympian Gods, king of Greek Gods, the extent of his great namesake temple is appropriate. It was huge, an ambitious vision of the tyrannical rulers of the time, comprising a periphery of 104 Corinthian style columns reaching 17 metres (more than 50 feet) high. A genuine tribute to the “big guy”, indeed!

It took 638 years to complete, despite early dreams, and was eventually finished by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD. But it barely got off the ground. Not long after it was declared open for business, a barbarian invasion (roughly 267 AD) resulted in widespread destruction in Athens, and most notably to the Temple of Olympian Zeus. The statue of Zeus in the temple was destroyed by fire in the 5th century AD. Then parts of it were mined for the building of other structures; bit by bit, it was virtually ruined. Rotten luck plagued the temple until the present day when only 16 columns of the massive temple remain, and even now, one of those is prone on the ground, the result of a storm in 1852. Maybe Zeus was not as powerful as we are brought to believe!

What remains is a lesson in objects of worship; the sheer size of the base is clear from the positioning of the leftover columns. Once the largest temple in all of Greece, it is currently a place of awe and some sadness, save for the Greek Pagans who are now permitted to honour their gods in what is left of the Temple of Olympian Zeus.

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