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Olympia, Greece
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Olympia, Greece

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Olympia, a city of ancient Greece in Elis, is known for having been the site of the Olympic Games in classical times, comparable in importance to the Pythian Games held in Delphi. Both games were held every olympiad (i.e. every four years), the Olympic Games dating back at least as far as 776 BC. At the end of the 4th century, emperor Theodosius abolished them.

Olympia is also known for its gigantic ivory and gold statue of Zeus, made by Phidias, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Very close to the temple of Zeus which housed this statue, the studio of Phidias was excavated in the 1950s. Evidence found there such as sculptor's tools, corroborates this opinion.

Excavation of the Olympia temple district and its surroundings began with a French expedition in 1829. German archaeologists continued the work in the latter part of the 19th century. The latter group uncovered, intact, the Hermes of Praxiteles statue, among other artifacts. In the middle of the 20th Century, the stadium where the running contests took place was excavated.

The Olympic flame of the modern-day Olympic Games is lit by reflection of sunlight in a parabolic mirror at the restored Olympia stadium and then transported by a torch to the place where the games are held.

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