Category Archives: Greece

A Super Mario adventure in Olympia

 

Today on our marvelous tour in Greece, we visited the Ancient site of Olympia, birthplace of the first Olympic games, which commenced over 1200 years ago. The games were held to celebrate the achievements of the human body and to honor of the Greek God Zeus. With our tour guide Mario, we discovered some of the unique secrets hidden inside this fabulous and history rich ancient city, which was submerged in water for more than 600 years. The site contained one of the Seven Ancient Wonders, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, which stood inside the temple of Zeus at more than 60 feet tall. As stated before the Olympic games were held here with fewer events compared to the modern Olympic games.

The games at Olympia are the most prestigious games in history and are still popular in today’s society, having a significant impact on the population when held every four years. Although there were fewer events in Ancient times it was still equally popular and entertaining. Unlike other games of the time, any Greek Poleis even some Roman settlements could participate. Mario, an experienced archaeologist and tour guide (almost 50 years) provided us with insightful detail into this Ancient site, helping us to understand broaden our understanding of the Ancient site of Olympia. The site also contained many other former grand and extravagant buildings such as the Temple of Zeus, Temple of Mother Gaia and the Temple of Hera. Mario explained the concepts of architecture used by the ancient Greeks to provide structural balance and the appearance of perfection of the temples. The temples were all built to different sizes but used the same formula; the side face equals the front face, times two, plus one. The sizes of the temple were determined by the importance of the deities.

After a few hours in ferocious heat, exhausted we were. Mario led us into an air-conditioned museum, a great relief for everyone. This museum contained many artifacts and pieces of archaeological evidence found from the site to be studied. Significant artifacts included casts of the Statue of Zeus, Hermes as well as warfare artifacts such as the Miltiades helmet and many others. We concluded our tour with Mario and embarked on a new journey, the bus ride to Tolon.

The journey lasted around three hours, and when we arrived in Tolon, everyone awoke to the sound of waves on the sea–shore, stunning views of the bay and the smell of sea salt. Within minutes of our arrival everyone jumped into their boardies and raided the sea–volleyball court after being inspired by the spirit and athleticism of the Ancient Olympics. We competed in a ferocious volleyball match and even Mr. Pyne participated.

After our swim, we raced to our rooms and quickly showered, and got changed for dinner. We scoffed our food in time to watch the France vs Germany match we were all excited about.

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Yasas!!!!

William Cassimatis and Jacob Nastasi

Selfie at Delphi

Richardo Zhangalopoulis

The enigmatic figure drew a deep breath, carefully selecting his words. He could feel the innumerable pairs of eyes on him, judging him, weighing up his worth. After a pause that seemed to last for eternity, he knew what to say. G’day mate. The words reverberated around the stadium. And it was that moment that I knew I, Richardo Zhangalopoulis, would forever be remembered for my brave words.

This an account of what happened at Delphi today. It was a wonderful place, and we checked out a sweet theater where I tested the acoustics by yelling our customary Australia greeting – “G’day mate”. In the morning, we all rose nice and early to check out of the hotel. After a short bus trip, we arrived at the museum, where we marveled at some sweet statues and friezes. We learned how the Greeks implemented some aspects of Egyptian sculpture in their kouros and kore statues.

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They also adopted the concept of the sphinx, but modified it so that it reflected their own culture. We then checked out some friezes that depicted: the battle between the Olympian gods and the giants; and the battle from the Trojan war. Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 9.11.57 PM

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 Then our guide showed us some Ancient Greek music sheets, which were much more complicated than they seemed.Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 9.12.09 PM

Perhaps the highlight of the day was the Omphalos, the supposed ‘bellybutton/centre of the world’. Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 9.12.23 PM

 It was a stone placed on the area where the two eagles of Zeus met, held up by this column.

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Our guide then showed us a cool bronze statue of an ancient charioteer, which was made by the same sculptor who made the amazing Zeus/Poseidon statue we saw the other day in the Athens museum.

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Then we went outside to see the actual site of Delphi, which Fin will now discuss.

Thank you Richard for reminding me how you beat me in English. I suppose that by now the faithful readers of the blog are beginning to tire of Delphi so I will keep this short and enthusiastic.

Delphi is the second most vertical place that we have tramped about. The truth is, as with most ancient sites, there wasn’t much left. Like these ancient sites, there isn’t much left of this blog post either. We visited the rubble formerly known as the Temple of Apollo. The main thing we got out of the tour of the site was knowledge concerning the topography of the site, and maybe those with a dash of imagination could imagine how it once was.

The rest of the day involved a drowsy bus trip with a stop to eat some Souvlaki and as always, a swim.

At the close of this blog, I pose to the readers a riddle, one which we have learned from one of the many stories recounted by Mr Chambers that concerns Delphi. And for bonus points, which Greek answered it correctly.

What has four legs in the morning, two at midday and three in the evening??????????????

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That’s all folks!!

Cradle of Civilisation!

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With an early start to the day we embarked on a journey that we would never forget.  We caught the metro to Sintagma and walked to the steps of the Acropolis. We started at the Propylae and gazed at the surrounding city.

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We all spent a good hour investigating the sites of the Athenian Acropolis, with special interest to the Erechtheum, Temple of Nike and of course the Parthenon herself.

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Following this, we explored the ancient Athenian Agora, Temple of Hephastus and the Pnyx, discovering the fundamentals of democracy as well as seeing the cultural, social, religious and economical epicenter of the ancient world.

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We then headed to the Acropolis museum after a short lunch break. Through this visit we investigated the various original artifacts, the various methods they use to clean the artifacts as well as the ancient and more modern history associated such as the controversial debate on the returning of original artifacts from Britain after they were stolen by Lord Elgin in the 18th century.

Finally, the group travelled to the Plaka where we split into small groups and visited the various stores and markets seeing some unusual antique stores. After an hour of visiting this large array of stores we once again headed to the metro where we made our journey home.