Pay homage to the father of the gods at this famous Athens landmark which took seven hundred years to build.
Just to the south of Syntagma Square stands one of central Athens' most impressive ruins. The Temple of Olympian Zeus, sometimes known as the Olympeion or Columns of the Olympian Zeus, was built in honour of the father of the Olympian gods. Of its original 104 Corinthian columns, only fifteen remain standing today. However they still give a powerful impression of the awe-inspiring scale of this massive building.
Construction of the temple began during the rule of Peisistratos in the 6th century BC but it would take another seven centuries before it was finished. The Classical Greeks felt that the ambitious project might be seen by the gods as a symbol of man’s arrogance and it was not until 131 AD that the Emperor Hadrian took steps to complete the temple. At the same time he commissioned an immense gold and ivory statue of Zeus and a slightly smaller one of himself in a gesture of arrogance that would have surely shocked his forebears!
It is thought that the main part of the building was destroyed by an earthquake during the middle ages, and one of the surviving columns fell victim to storm damage in 1852. To the north of the site are the remains of Roman houses, a Roman bath and the city walls, as well as the Arch of Hadrian which formed a gate between the ancient and Roman cities of Athens.
The Temple of Olympian Zeus is in central Athens, a short walk from Syntagma Square, and can be easily reached by public transport. It is open every day and entrance is covered by a ticket to the Acropolis. In summer the building is floodlit along with the Acropolis, making it a delightful and atmospheric place to visit and photograph as well as an iconic landmark which can be seen from many parts of this beautiful city.