Olympia Archaeological Museum | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Olympia Archaeological Museum

Ancient Olympia, Peloponnese, West Greece and Ionian Sea, Greece

Lucy Davidson

01 Jun 2021

About Olympia Archaeological Museum

Olympia Archaeological Museum is one of Greece’s principal museums. It focuses on and is located near the Ancient Greek site of Olympia. A major Greek city and the place of origin of the Olympic Games, Olympia was dedicated to Zeus and has since been extensively excavated.

History of Olympia Archaeological Museum

Excavation of the Altis site – the central, holy site around which the most important buildings in Olympia are situated – during the 19th century quickly necessitated the construction of a building to display works of art and uncovered objects. Banker Andreas Syngros therefore paid 220,000 drachmas to fund the museum’s construction.

The result is a neo-classical building on the hill of Drouva, which was finished in 1888 and was the first Greek museum built outside of Athens.

It was damaged by an earthquake in 1954, and later proved to be too small to properly house the museum’s ever-expanding collection. Plans to construct a new museum were approved in the 1970s, and though it was unused for some time, the original building was re-purposed and, since 2004, has also focused on the history of the original Olympic games alongside its displays of finds from the Olympia site.

Olympia Archaeological Museum Today

Today, the museum is comprised of twelve exhibition rooms, auxiliary spaces, and storerooms, which display a large collection of items excavated at the Altis site.

Some key finds include an expansive and famous collection of terracotta and bronze statues, as well as figurines of humans and animals, cauldrons, tripods, griffins, and sphinxes, as well as many mosaics, sculptures, and numerous other artefacts which document the long history of the Sanctuary of Zeus and the Olympic Games.

Some of the museum’s most treasured items include those from the destroyed Temple of Zeus.

The museum is a ten minute walk from the Olympia ancient ruins. It is recommended that you visit the museum after you have explored the old city in order to better understand the items’ context.

Tours are also available of both the site and the museum for those who wish to gain a deeper understanding of the area’s fascinating history and the process of excavation.

Getting to Olympia Archaeological Museum

From the Olympia Archaeological Site, the museum is a 3 minute drive via the Praxiteli Kondili (Πραξιτέλη Κονδύλη) road. It’s also a simple ten minute walk between the two sites. 

From Kalamata, the museum is an hour and a half drive via the A7, E55 and EO Pirgou Kiparissias/E55/EO9 roads.

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