Temple of Olympian Zeus

By: | Post date: July 2, 2023 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Culture, Greece

The Temple of Olympian Zeus was supposed to be the biggest Ancient Greek temple ever: it took 600 years to build, and was ruined in a barbarian raid a century later. What remains of it are a seventh of its columns, most of them now in scaffolding.
The columns tower over the highway right next to it, and look completely out of place there. I’ve often commented about how, unlike the comforting brick of the Romans and Byzantines, the marble of antiquity looks like it was deposited by aliens (or giants, as Greek folklore maintained). More than anywhere else, it was the Temple of Olympian Zeus that has made me think so…
A seventh of the original 104 columns of the Temple of Olympian Zeus remain standing. The fallen column was the latest to fall, in a storm in 1852, and is still here.
Like the millennium-long cathedrals in Western Europe, this would have been a magnificent building site in classical antiquity, and an even more magnificent temple for the century after Hadrian finished it.
What is left here is not magnificent. It is more awe-inspiring than that. And yet, there’s really so little of it left. It speaks more through what isn’t here, than what is.

Surplus column capitals and/or statue bases; Roman baths on the precincts (with the appearance of comforting Roman brick.)

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