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.


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

The building of the Temple of Olympian Zeus began in the 6th Century by Peisistratos but 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 in 131 AD, seven hundred years later. The Classical Greeks (487-379) 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 Third Century when the Macedonians ruled Athens work was begun again by Antiochus the IV of Syria who wanted to build the world’s largest temple and hired the Roman architect Cossotius to complete the job, but 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.


This pic for Saturday’s Critter

Acropolis as seen from Temple of Zeus

Temple of Zeus as seen from Acropolis

SkyWatch Friday

You may also like...

38 Responses

  1. TexWisGirl says:

    i can imagine seeing all 104 still in place!

  2. Sylvia K says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your Greece trip, Indrani!! Such wonderful memories your photos have brought me!! We had such a wonderful trip there and it was very special for my husband as he had just competed in the Olympics in Tokyo and was a silver medalist!! Have a beautiful weekend!!

  3. Joyful says:

    Love the ancient columns. Such a spectacularly clear day!

  4. Beautiful photos. That blue sky is so magical and really lets everything pop! How magnificent the complete structure would have looked. Your post brought back lovely memories. Your last picture is really nice… I didn't manage to get a shot of the temple from the Acropolis. It looks lovely from the top shot.

  5. DeniseinVA says:

    Absolutely incredible! Thank you for sharing this Indrani and for telling us of all of the wonderful history of the place. I found it fascinating!

  6. Wow, incredible structures!! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Jo says:

    Indrani, those blue skies set off the magnificence of the columns. And only when I saw the fallen, sliced "cookies" did I get an impression of how huge these columns are. I love the white bird with a long black tail on one of the temples. Great light for great images. I wish you a wonderful Friday. Greetings Jo

  8. Wonderful structures!

  9. Romi C says:

    They are just like what I've seen in a history textbook. I wish I could see them in person.

  10. ladyfi says:

    Great shots! What a magnificent sight it must have been!

  11. Immensely tall pillars of incredible beauty,magnificence & splendor. Such amazing levels of skill, architecture & craftsmanship that existed in the BC's.

  12. Absolutely amazing to stand in such a place. I have goosebumps just imagining it.

  13. Hilary says:

    It must have been just amazing for you to be there and see this incredible part of history.

  14. sometime pics speak more than the words ….:-)

  15. Relics and ruins of Greece is always interesting! Enjoying your posts on Greece. Keep sharing. 🙂

  16. Interesting…. Good Presentation!

  17. Awesome architecture against the clear blue sky.
    Great shots!

  18. Beautiful pics and amazing architecture!!

  19. Bright blue sky. So beautifully gorgeous. Great architecture.

  20. Majestic structure…looks more beautiful in the backdrop of the clear blue sky…

  21. I love visiting your blog! It always makes me happy.

  22. The base measures 96m by 40m, and each of those columns are 17m tall. – what a great Civil engineering is applied. Indrani ji , I saw like pillars in Rome also , I just want to know (if you can tell) that these types of pillars have some specific meaning in christian culture or it is just their style ?

  23. eileeninmd says:

    Hello Indrani, what a lovely scene and images.. The ancient columns are just amazing to see still standing.. I love the magpie too. Great post! Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Have a happy weekend!

  24. WOW! How wonderful to have been there to see these ancient columns so well photographed. Have a great weekend.

  25. It looks pretty impressive still, it must have been absolutely amazing. The magpie is a lovely bird.

  26. What an amazing (and beautiful) feat of engineering!

  27. Amazing ! It's hard to believe such great architecture was created nearly two millennia ago!

  28. Wow..you bring back us to Romans Indrani..!

  29. Carver says:

    These are very good captures.

  30. Jeevan says:

    Excellent shots and interesting seeing from various angles… simply marvelous remnant!

  31. Wow -cheering on your post from Melbourne!!, I would love to visit myself one day, 1
    Your photos are wonderful and you tell the history of the Temple of Zeus so well – love the description of the fallen column being like sliced up cookies!
    Wren x

  32. Magnificent temple architecture! I could understand the actual size of the temple pillars looking at the last picture only after observing that person dressed in black! How majestic it would have been in its times!
    Your photography is superb, Indrani!

  33. They look magnificent indeed. Beautiful photographs 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *