Temple of Olympian Zeus tour: The great debtAthens, Greece
A fascinating self-guided audio walking tour at Olympieion, the Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens (also known as Columns of the Olympian Zeus) with credible & original stories written by top local professionals. Take your tour now & enjoy it instantly on your smartphone device.
“The great debt: the Olympieion, Athens” is a tour literally inundated in myth and stories about the great tyrants, kings, emperors, and architects that struggled for six centuries to complete one of the largest temples ever built in ancient Greece. As you first approach the Great Propylon, you will learn all about the Great Flood that Zeus unleashed when a king of the Bronze Race served him a nice pot of his own son. Then, as you stand in the shade of the majestic columns at the SE corner of the temple you can try to understand the sense of awe felt by emperors and common people who witnessed this forest of marble rising from the ground to the heavens above. The nondescript lines of stones on the terrace south of the temple are steeped in mythology. Theseus, the legendary hero of Athens, proved here that he was no innocent marriageable virgin. At the NW corner you can muse on the vanity of all human endeavour. After all there are only 15 columns left standing where once there were 104. Finally, you have a wonderful chance to learn about the passion of ancient Athenians and Romans for baths, whether hot or cold, in the old balaneion. Many philosophers spent time and effort in the bath and when you are in Athens you might as well do as the Athenians did.
1. The Great FloodSpring cleaning is an annual practice that delivers a neat house. Zeus was in this peculiar state of mind when he declared that the earth itself was in urgent need of a thorough cleaning. Man and beast paid the price.
2. Sic transit gloria mundiThus passes the glory of the world. The colossal masterpiece of Hadrian’s time seems to have vanished into thin air, leaving behind only a handful of columns and a wealth of stories. How can it be?
3. From the bath, in form like immortalsSylvia Plath could not think of a thing that a hot bath won’t cure. The Roman bathhouse was built during the reign of Hadrian (124-132 CE) and served the Athenians for 500 years.
The Great FloodAll the river gods rushed to help Zeus. The rapid streams and rivers carried grain, groves, houses, sheep, and temples towards the deep unfruitful sea. Any mansions that remained, being too big to be carried away, were covered by the waves. Desperate men and women were swept away; tigers, lions, wolves, and boars floated amidst the surging waves. All to no avail for soon there was nothing to be seen but a vast sea without a shore. In this watery chaos floated Deucalion and his wife Pyrrha, who survived in a chest built by him on the advice of his father, Prometheus. When their chest touched solid ground after nine days at sea, they were the only surviving pair of humans.
Sic transit gloria mundiThe temple must have given the impression of a stone forest with its 104 columns reaching a height of 17 meters (each being two meters in diameter). But they were not to last. As Christianity replaced the old religion, the temple fell into disrepair and was eventually abandoned. The stones and the columns were reused in other building projects, while the gold and ivory statues vanished without a trace. When Cyriacus of Ancona, an itinerant Italian humanist and antiquarian, visited Athens in 1436, he saw only 21 columns still standing. In 1759, when there were only 17 columns left, the Ottoman governor of Athens pulled one of them down to make lime for the Tzistarakis Mosque in Monastiraki Square.
A bath for everyone
From the bath, in form like immortalsThe Romans were fans of the public bath, but they preferred the sweat version. There was an initial meeting space (atrium) where an attendant extracted payment for the use of the baths. The price depended on the patron’s wealth, with the poor often entering for free. The semicircular room next to the atrium is an artificial grotto with fountains and statues (Nymphaeum), richly decorated with geometrical mosaics. Then came the equally elaborately adorned changing room (apodyterium), where patrons could change out of and into their clothing. There were cubbies for storing items and pegs on the walls for hanging clothes. Slaves monitored the items left by the patrons to prevent thefts.
The team behind the stories at Clio Muse consists of a dedicated long-haired art conservator, an inquisitive bespectacled historian, a passionate feminist curator, and a gifted graphic designer with a permanent tan.
|Address||Leof. Vasilissis Olgas 2, Athina 105 57|
|Starting point||Temple of Olympieion Zeus|
|Finishing point||Leof. Vasilissis Olgas 2, Athina 105 57|
|Areas||Temple of Olympian Zeus, Zappeion|
|Opening hours||Temple of Olympieion Zeus: 8.00-15:00 | Last entrance: 14:30|
|Additional admission||General admission: €6|
Why take a self-guided tour?
This is a self-guided tour based on the award-winning storytelling concept developed by Clio Muse and the fascinating narratives prepared by our handpicked destination experts.
You can enjoy each multilingual tour by using your smartphone or tablet at your own pace even if you are offline. The interactive map on your screen will guide you step-by-step as you explore all points of interest along your route. Each stop comes with a selection of our signature stories allowing you to tailor the tour experience to your personal interests and schedule.
After downloading Clio Muse app, you can access this tour and activate it any moment you wish and also repeat it any time. To best enjoy our multimedia self-guided tour (comprising maps, video, audio and text) we recommend the use of headphones.