Temple of Olympian Zeus, Athens

All that remains of the Temple of Olympian Zeus are these few Corinthian columns. 15 to be precise! Can you guess originally how many were present? 104! Now imagine how grand this Temple of Zeus would have looked had all the columns been standing. These remnant columns are enclosed in a huge area, one can go around them admiring and clicking from all possible angles.On our first day in Athens we got cloudless blue skies, and the columns looked magnificent against the blue. There was one column which lay fallen and looked like sliced up cookies. It was blown down in a storm in 1852. The magnitude of the columns silences you. The base measures 96m by 40m, and each of those columns are 17m tall. Travel guide book DK advises for best photographs afternoons are the best and thankfully we were able to time the visit.

Temple of Olympian Zeus

The construction of this grand temple was started in 6th century BC but was completed in 131AD.

History of Temple of Olympian Zeus

The building of the Temple of Olympian Zeus began in the 6th Century by Peisistratos. However work was stopped either because of a lack of money or because Pisistratus’s son, Hippias, was overthrown in 510 BC. The temple was not finished until the Emperor Hadrian completed it in 131 AD. That is seven hundred years later. The Classical Greeks (487-379BC) left it unfinished because they believed it was too big and symbolized the arrogance of people who believed they were equal to the Gods.

During the 3rd century when the Macedonians ruled Athens, Antiochus the IV of Syria restarted the work. He wanted to build the world’s largest temple and hired the Roman architect Cossotius to complete the job. Unfortunately this ended when Antiochus died. In 86 BC, during Roman rule the general Sulla took two columns from the unfinished temple to Rome for the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill which influenced the development of the Corinthian style in Rome.

I saw similar columns in the ruins of Temple of Castor and Pollux in Forum, Rome.

Hadrian had erected a giant gold and ivory status of Zeus inside the temple with an equally large one of himself next to it. Nothing remains of these statues. It is not known when the temple of Zeus was destroyed but it probably came down in an earthquake during the medieval period. Like other ancient buildings much of it was taken away for building materials.


Acropolis as seen from Temple of Zeus

Acropolis as seen from Temple of Zeus

Temple of Zeus as seen from Acropolis

Temple of Zeus as seen from Acropolis


Visiting the Acropolis, Athens to see Parthenon
Missing the Snow

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