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The Temple of Olympian Zeus

The Temple of Olympian Zeus (Olympeion) was an enormous structure, the largest temple in Greece, exceeding even the Parthenon in size.  Work began on this vast edifice in 515 BCE during the reign of the tyrant Peisistratos, who initiated the building work to gain public favor. Although there were several attempts over many years to finish the temple, it was not completed until 132 CE by the Emperor Hadrian. The 104 columns, each 17 meters (56 feet) high, of the temple were made of Pentelic marble. Only 15 of the Corinthian columns remain standing to give a sense of the enormous size of the temple which would have been approximately 96 x 40 meters (315 x 130 feet) in size. 

After the construction of the temple of Zeus, the Athenians honored Hadrian by building an arched gateway in the northwest corner of the sanctuary in 131 CE. The arch, also built of Pentelic marble, bears two inscriptions. The one on the side facing the Acropolis (west facade) reads "This is Athens, the ancient city of Theseus" while the other, on the side facing the sanctuary and the extension of the city by Hadrian, reads "This is the city of Hadrian and not of Theseus".

Click on the thumbnails below in order to see pictures of the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the surrounding monuments.  Use your browser's back button to return to this page.

Olympeion from the AcropolisTemple of Olympian Zeus, Hadrian's Arch, the Olympic Stadium and surrounding area as seen from the Acropolis.

Olympeion from the AcropolisTemple of Olympian Zeus as seen from the Acropolis.

Hadrian's ArchHadrian's Arch with the sanctuary of Zeus in the background.
Hadrian's Arch & AcropolisHadrian's Arch with the Acropolis in the background. Corinthian columnsThe Corinthian style columns of the Temple of Olympian Zeus with the Acropolis in the background. The Acropolis as seen through the OlympeionThe Acropolis as seen through the Temple of Olympian Zeus.
Corinthian capitalsBirds hanging out on top of the Corinthian style capitals of the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Olympeion and the AcropolisThe remaining columns of the  Temple of Olympian Zeus framing the Acropolis rock from the southeast. Columns framing the AcropolisThe columns of the Temple of Olympian Zeus framing the Acropolis rock.
Olympeion from NEThe Temple of Olympian Zeus from the northeast. Olympeion and the Acropolis






The Temple of Olympian Zeus (left) and the Acropolis rock (right) from the east.
Olympeion from the eastThe Temple of Olympian Zeus from the east.
Olympeion from NWThe  Temple of Olympian Zeus from the northwest. The cluster of 13 columnsThe cluster of 13 standing columns. Fallen columnThe fallen column.
Roman BathsRemains of Roman Baths, constructed in 124-132 CE, with Hadrian's Arch and the Acropolis in the background. House of the 4th century BCEHouse of the 4th century BCE. Detail of PlaqueDetail of the plaque at the 4th century house.
Map of the sanctuaryMap of the sanctuary.

 
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All pictures are Copyright 2000 Grisel Gonzalez and Jeff Prosise