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Temple of Olympian Zeus

The temple of Olympian Zeus is one of the three largest temples of its kind worldwide and 16 columns have survived.

  1. Modern and Contemporary era (1821 - )

    The area of the Temple of Olympian Zeus was used for recreation purposes, demonstrations and as an exam hall for refugee children from Asia Minor.

    1936 During the Metaxas dictatorship, it was used to publicly burn so-called "dangerous" books.

  2. Ottoman era (1453- 1821)

  3. Byzantine era (331 AC- 1453)

  4. Roman era (30 BC- 330 AC)

    132 AD Emperor Hadrian ordered the works to restart and after seven years, the temple was finally completed. The temple was full of statues of Hadrian, which had the inscription "Olympian".

  5. Hellenistic era (322- 31 BC)

    174 BC King Antiochus IV Epiphanes of Syria attempted to complete the temple. As a result, the temple was covered with marble, had columns of Corinthian order, but it remained unfinished, roofless and without pediments.

    86 BC Sulla moved some of the temple's capitals to Rome to decorate the Capitol.

  6. Classical era (478-323 BC)

    The first attempt to marble the temple was made in the 4th century BC.

  7. Archaic era (800-479 BC)

    515 BC Began the temple’s construction by the tyrant Peisistratos the younger at the site of a pre-existing temple of the 6th century BC.

  8. Geometric era (-1100- 800 BC)

  9. Prehistory (-1100 BC)

What I can see

One of the major avenues of Athens, Syngrou Avenue, was built to face the Temple of Olympian Zeus. The temple took a total of seven centuries to be completed, in different phases. It is 110 metres long and 40 metres wide. Only 13 from the original 104 Corinthian columns have survived, with 13 of them located on the southeast and only three on the southwest side of the monument. The middle of the three southeastern columns collapsed in 1852 after being struck by lightning. The columns are known as “the stone chronicles” because they bare the marks of centuries of extreme weather and natural phenomena. On the southern side of the temple, a number of shrines from different eras exist, including Saturn’s shrine (Cronion), the Panhellenic shrine and Delphinion, as well as remnants of the Ottoman period, such as the then so-called “Negros’ Mosque”, to which Ethiopian slaves prayed.

What I can't see

The temple of Zeus was a copy of the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus and Hera’s Temple (Heraion) on the island of Samos. The building was originally built with local limestone, when Athens was under tyranny. The project was abandoned when the tyrants were overthrown and did not continue during the period of democracy, mainly because parts of the building were used for the building of the eastern arm of Themistocles’ wall. The first attempt the temple to be made of marble was made in the 4th century BC, but the project was finished in the Roman years. It was adorned with an oversized statue of Zeus made with gold and ivory and many statues of Roman emperor Hadrian inside the temple and at the cortyard. The columns facing the city were dismantled during the following centruries and the material was used on buildings. It is believed that the Tzistarakis Mosque (Monastiraki Square) was built in a similar way. The Athenians believed that demons hid underneath the columns. During the same period, when, according to tradition, the Ottoman official Tzistarakis plastered one of the columns to build the mosque, the town was struck by the plague. The Sultan, who was fearful of ancient monuments and preferred to leave them untouched, punished the official by deposing him. Similarly, when the 16th column was struck by lightning and collapsed, a cholera epidemic broke out.


  • Address: V. Olgas St.


Archaeology of the city of Athens, (d.u.), Ιερό και Ναός Ολυμπίου Διός, [Sanctuary and Temple of Olympian Zeus], ΕΙΕ,

Last visit 15/8/2013

Archaeology of the city of Athens, (d.u.), Τζαμί Τζισταράκη, [Tzistaraki Mosque], ΕΙΕ,

Last visit 15/8/2013

Yohalas T., Kafetzaki Τ., (2013), Αθήνα, Ιχνηλατώντας την πόλη με οδηγό την ιστορία και τη λογοτεχνία [Athens, Tracing thecity guidedby history andliterature], ESTIA Bookstore

Foka Ι., Valavanis P., (1994), Περίπατοι στην Αθήνα και την Αττική, τόποι, θεοί, μνημεία [Strolls in Athens and Attica, places, gods, monuments], Kedros

Camp J., (2001), The Archaeology of Athens, Yale University Press, New Haven and London

Chatzipouliou E., (2014), Olympieion, in Navigating the routes of Art and Culture, Part 1, Athens, Ministry of Culture and Sports

Travlos J., (1980), Pictorial Dictionary of Ancient Athens, New York: Hacker Art Book