Sacred Precinct, Olympia Altis
We enter the Sacred Precinct at Altis through a Roman gateway on the south side and see, beyond the triangular pillar which bore Paionios's figure of Victory (ca. 425 B.C.) and the bases of numerous votive monuments, the temple of Zeus, built by Libon of Elis between 470 and 456 B.C., which has been called "the finest expression of the Doric canon" (Gruben). A ramp leads up to the entrance.
Heraion is the oldest temple at Olympia. It shows a variety of styles due to work done on the structure over the centuries.
At the west end of the terrace at Olympia, immediately adjoining the Nymphaeum of Herodes Atticus, is a small naiskos (3.9m/13ft by 3.5m/11.5ft), with an altar in front of it. Then follow the treasuries, beginning with that of Sikyon, the last to be built (first half of fifth century B.C.), which has recently been partly rebuilt. Beyond this are the treasuries of Syracuse, Epidamnos, Byzantium, Sybaris and Kyrene, a structure which is thought to be an altar of Herakles, and finally the treasuries of Selinus, Metapontion, Megara and Gela.
At Olympia, immediately below the terrace with the treasuries, is the site of the badly ruined Metroon (ca. 300 B.C.), a shrine of the Mother of the Gods which in Roman times was re-dedicated to the Imperial cult. Beside it are a series of bases for the "Zanes" - statues of Zeus which were financed out of fines levied for offenses against the rules of the Games. Immediately beyond them is the entrance to the Stadion (ca. 200 B.C.), the vaulting of which, still visible, was originally concealed by a propylon.
The Stadion at Olympia, which after the erection of the Echo Hall (330-320 B.C.) was separated from the Sacred Precinct, was completely excavated by German archeologists in 1958-62 and restored to its fourth century form. On the track can be seen the starting-lines for the two-stade race (to the west) and the Stadion race (to the east). The spectators sat on earth embankments: there were no tiers of stone seating, and only the judges had their tribune on the south side and the priestess of Demeter - the only woman who was allowed to be present at the Games - on the north side.The stadium was the largest of its kind, seating 30,000.
At Olympia, near the west wall of the Altis, we can see the Philippeion, a circular structure begun by Philip II of Macedon in 338 B.C. and completed by his son Alexander, for which Leochares carved five chryselephantine statues of the Macedonian royal family.The treasury was offered by Philip after his victory at the battle of Chaeronia.
The sacred grove at Altis encompassed the Prytaneion, the magistrates' residence, which was separated into two parts. In the southern part is the Altar of the Goddess Hestia with the inextinguishable firing.
Temple of Hera
Among the impressive buildings at Altis is Hera's Temple, which dates much earlier than her husband's (Zeus) and served as a perfect setting for Prexiteles' Hermes, found standing among the columns of the Temple.