Patras Carnival
Patras Carnival
Under Construction
Future Dates
Julian Calendar
carrus navalis
Gigantic Floats

Patras Carnival

Patrino karnavali is the largest event of its kind in Greece and one of the biggest in Europe.

The events begin on 17 January and last up to Clean Monday.
Triodion Book of the Three Odes is the liturgical book used by the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches of Byzantine rite during Great Lent from the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee until Holy Saturday morning of Holy Week.
Fat_Thursday the Greek custom of Tsiknopempti (loosely translatable as "Barbecue Thursday"), which involves the massive consumption of charred meat in the evening of Thursday, ten days before the beginning of the Great Lent.
History_of-Patras  Patras was liberated on 7 October 1828 by the French expeditionary force in the Peloponnese, under the command of General Maison. In 1828 he was given command of the French expeditionary Corps in Morea (the Peloponnese peninsula in Greece) against Ibrahim Pasha. Upon his return to France in 1829 he was created a Marshal of France by Charles X.
The University-of_Patras was founded in the city of Patras in 1964 and an active contributor to the Carnival
Songs of the Carnival @
Calculating Easter - 2 systems by
Greek Orthodox calendar
Calculating Easter & Lent by
Easter Dating method
Carnival around Greece by greeceinfo.
Greek Carnival
carnival-an-ancient-greek event @philoxenia.
Carnival and Easter Celebrations by national tourist org
Visit to the Carnival workshop-slideshow
The Carnival of Patras by 11th Gymnasium of Patras
Pictures of Patras Carnival @ gogreece.


Nikos E. Politis, a distinguished journalist and historian has written the definitive history of Patras Carnival showing a strong evolution in each decade undergoing much change. The strongest factor has been the emergence of Patras as a trade center and the urban center for Greeks from Ionian Islands.  [source: pdf] [The Carnival of Patras, Achaikes Publications, Patra 1987


Patras Carnival or Patrino karnavali is special, the energy and participation level lets the Carnival rightly declare themselves as among the world's greatest Carnivals.
Carnival Capital 2010

as host of the FECC Carnival City Congress

 Greece, for over 2,500 years, has been celebrated as the birthplace of the Bacchic rites, the best known of all annual festival traditions. Patras, unlike other Greek cities, has little trace ofthis ritual but still gathers a frenzy that extends throughout the country as the town fills with frenzy and many more watch on TV. This celebration rose quickly from the epicenter of the Greek independence movement in 1829 following many waves of French and Venetian influence and has sought to be a beacon of future Carnaval in Greece -- the widely considered birthplace of Carnival.

The Carnival of Patras  combines the best French and Italian Carnivals with a scale of participation rarely found except in the largest Carnivals of Brazil and the Caribbean

Patras Carnival, like any great Carnival, believes its Carnival should be shared and the spirit passed on, holding up the Patras Carnival as a winning model for a 21st century Carnival while also honoring the strong national Carnaval traditions which have remained strong in many communities through Greece. The Carnival of Patras is hailed by the natives, not only for the massive participation of the locals but for helping to create the most emancipated and progressive women of Greece. The culmination of the Patras Carnival season occurs with a massive extravagant parade on Carnival Sunday featuring some of the best floats built in Europe but also the creative enthusiasm of dancers and musicians giving their full spirit to living life  joyfully in the moment. 

For the Grand Parade on Carnaval Sunday over 40.000 masqueraders will let Patras hold the crown as the largest in the Balkans and among the largest anywhere in the world.  This is possible because of the enthusiastic participation of the youth whose participation since 1979, has been nothing short of phenomenal.

"All who joy would touch must share it. Happiness was born a Twin."

Lord Byron a local hero of Greek Independence and renowned poet and author

Bacchus, or Dionysus
The annual Greek Dionysus festivals not only represent the strongest root of global Carnival but also gave rise to the theatre arts of comedy and tragedy. Patras is well known for its summer International Festival of the Arts, which is held throughout the summer at many venues

The Patras Carnaval traces itself to impressive French masqued Carnaval Balls in the early 19th century which immediately followed the French led liberation from Ottoman rule. A half century later, Italian Carnevale paper mache floats were introduced and the Patras Carnival parade was off to a grand start.

Historically, the Venetian empire never lost a number of the nearby Ionian Islands including Corfu and traded control of many coastal cities and islands including Patras over the centuries leading to liberation in 1828. Patras is surrounded by mountains which long harbored autonomous Greek communities. The relationship between Patras and Italy has generally been one of mutual prosperity and good will and the Carnaval encourages and enjoys its international reputation.

The Carnival begins on January 17th on St. Patras recycling by stylianosmAnthony’s day and lasts up to the first day of Lent which under the slightly different Orthodox calendar begins on Clean Monday. Greece is one of Europe's most religious countries and Lent and many religious holidays are observed by most. Saint Anthony is best known for resisting temptations.

Patras is the ambitious metropolitan gateway to the west for Greece. Besides building a festival model for the country, Patras has opened the University of Patras [1967] a top European University for over 20,000 students, as well as Saint Andrew's, the largest orthodox Cathedral [1974] and most recently the much hailed landmark Rio-Antonini Bridge [2004], the first to ever cross the gulfs to the Peloponnese in 4,500 years. Patras believes it should be considered not just the ferry gateway to Europe but also the gateway to the many ancient Greek archeological sites of the Peloponnese.

Patras Carnival is well known throughout Greece as its finale and is a favorite annual event on television. The engagement of the entire country has begun months before with official appearances of the Carnival Queen and the Carnival train which leaves Athens and passes through many other cities on its way to the Carnival capital of Patras.

January 17th

The Opening takes place on Saint Anthony's Feast Day

DownloadSt. Anthony (17 January). The opening ceremony takes place on  Georgiou Square and includes pantomimes, dances, music and fireworks.

The first official appearance of the Carnival Queen, the departure of the Carnival from Athens, the delivery of the message of the carnival's commencement at all stops it makes, the Carnivalist's vow and the previews of the splendor of the Patra Carnival to come have been prominent parts of the countdown in recent years.

Tsiknopempti --- BBQ or Fat Thursday

The Carnival really takes off 11 days before Ash  Monday with lots of meat barbequing throughout Greece on "Burnt Thursday"

Roasting meat on this day is a nation-wide custom as the observance of Lent, The word Tsiknopempti comes fromTsiknopempti_in_the_Upper_Town.jpg two other words 'tsikna' (the smell of burnt and grilled meat) and 'Pempti' (Thursday in Greek)  In some places in Greece, especially in nearby countryside of Peloponissos, the week of Tsiknopempti, people butcher their pigs and prepare delicious mezedes: "pixti", "omatia", "tsigarides", sausages, and more. Carnaval Sunday begins on the following "pure" Monday so this is also known as "Meat-eating Sunday" Groups of people meet up in tavernas and homes to celebrate, with, of course, the inevitable accompaniment of wine and guitars.
In Patras,
the Upper Town  streets fill will outdoor barbecues, live band music and folk musicians, choir concerts with songs from the first half of the 20th century
The Treasure Hunt Game

Patras Carnival Tradition since the sixties

Patras considers the turning point for the present Carnival,when participation surged from thousands to tens of thousands and heightened awareness to have come in 1966 with the introduction of the "Treasure Hunt Game".

In 1966, less than 100 people from the core crews of the carnival float cars lauched a Carnival tradition unique to Patras. Many of the wild interactive challenges came from the mind of Alkis Steas.   In the first game there would be a car with two women, one wearing a black domino and the other a bikini, and they were to search for hidden items following instructions delivered on a radio they received. During the 80's 2,000 participated while in the first decade of the 21st century participation is nearly 50,000.  

 The "Treasure Hunt Game" is a series of questions, riddles and activities, Contestants representing their groups take part in pantomime, mixed spectacle, theatre, dance, creations and quizzes. Fantasy, talent, multiversity, laughter, variety and liveliness come together to add something original and extraordinary to the Patras Carnival each year.

The Bourboulia - only in Patras

Women in domino robes maintain a tradition from the early days of the Carnival when the first mixing of social classes and unescorted women occurred following French liberation from the Turks. 

The most famous unique Carnival tradition of Patras is also its oldest. Women participate in the Carnival Dance Hall Ball without paying for entry while men must purchase a ticket. All the women  are dressed in a dark dress with a mask called a "black domino" while the men will be in regular clothes. During the dance, women select their dance partner. Besides an encouragement for the women to act as the sexual aggressor there is also an equalization of the social classes, particularly among the women whose background as urban or working class cannot be distinguished.

It is an empowering female event which allowed escape from daily routine defined in narrow social terms. According to Mrs. Ntouli-Dimitropoulou in an interview given in 2006 to Christiana Grigoriou & Christina Metaxioti for their published research paper on "The Social Role and the Cultural Identity of Women in Patra" the special attention given by the women of Patra to their preparation for the Bourboulia " makes them all beautiful and they give-off a sense of self-confidence that they are the most beautiful women in the world. This is something magical.

For most of its history, no photographs of the Bourboulia were allowed and while it is alleged that every woman in Patra has participated in the Bourboulia at least once, no one will admit it. Mrs Maria Iliopoulou, the first women recognized officially for her Carnival contributions by the Mayor of Patras has also been responsible for many years for the Bourboulia. She cites St. Mark's square in Venice as the source for the original costume design of the domino. While Venice needed heavy material in warmer Patras silk and satin were favored. The mask is very important to create the mystery. In fact, Mrs  Iliopoulou believes the Patras Carnival Queen contest should wear masks as every Queen has her own beauty with her carnival uniform and thus her real appearance should not be revealed.

Laskarina Bouboulina: Greek heroine of the Greek War of Independence in 1821


History of the Bourboulia:

Official Carnival history of Patras usually begins with the first event being ball given in the Carnival season associated with the merchant class which was influenced by French Carnaval Balls and Venetian Carnevale Costumes of St. Marks Square

Patras, a cauldron of the Greek Independence Movement of the 1820's, hosted its first Carnival shortly after the French had secured Greece from the Ottomans

French General Nicolas Joseph Maison liberated Patras from the Turks after many centuries with little resistance. The first recorded Carnival followed  a few months later

The starting event of the Patras Carnival is a ball given in the residence of the merchant Moretis in 1829. French troops under the command of General Maison were stationed in the city after its liberation from the Turks on  7 October 1828.

The French are often saluted for their Carnaval Balls whose costumes would make deep impressions on local inhabitants. Celebrants would circulate freely from one ball to another  which may not be of your class and so it was necessary to be masked. The French also had had some experience standing up to ecclesiastical carnival prescriptions which in the 17th century ordered the priests at the risk of fine or of prison " not to dance, either in public, or in private, not look at people who dance, not to wear long hair, long beards, red or green shoes in public. Do not walk come night, not sing profane songs in streets, not execute pieces of music, not mask ".Chevalier noir. by abac077.

Anyone of stature was familiar with the elegant Carnevale balls of Venice and the many Venetian colonies in the Mediterranean who sea-faring nature supported cultural exchange and trade. Patras as the most strategic port facing Italy had been held and lost by the Venetians. These very Catholic tradesmen  preceded the period of the Lenten fast with all forms of festivities: balls, masquerades, dances, fires of enjoyment, exhibitions of jugglers and mime would take their arts to the people in streets. The most famous place for Carnival in Europe then as now is Saint Mark's Square inPatras-catwomen.jpg Venice. The most prominent costume is a black domino which the Patras women adopted for warmer weather and simpler masks.

For the first time in anyone's memory, women in Greece were allowed to go out alone to meet their friends. For Patras Carnival, the Greek woman would wear black dominoes, a black dress with a hood along with a mask, while men were uncovered and normally dressed. Women belonging to the lower social layers were able to go out on the streets in groups with a sense of freedom previously unimaginable and they formed large groups and interacted by teasing or making fun of the men.

The idea became that this was an opportunity to express amorous feelings and flirt without social consequences. The tradition continues to this day. During the "Bourboulia" there is opportunity to select a partner without family knowing. It is a dance of flirting and teasing between men and women in a dance hall. The church objected, even distributing a brochure which stated: "In Bourboulia a woman was naked under her domino"

"Carnival was a social phenomenon that acted beneficially in order all conservative taboos regarding women to be reversed...Thus, the Woman of Patra, quickly adopted the fashion of the time, wore mini-skirts, smoked large pipes with jasmine flavor in the aristocratic lobbies of rich raisin traders during private dances, enriched her cultural property with dancing lessons, participated in theatrical carnival plays, contributed to carnival organizing committees, mostly expressed their eroticism under black mask in the well-known dance of "Bouboulia" and of course they controverted the Church, which during the 19th and 20th centuries, wanted them to be debauched because of Carnival and because of the fact that during Carnival they weren't under the strict boundaries of their house and family where they should always belong."
 Christiana Grigoriou & Christina Metaxioti [more]

This is a traditional custom, exclusive to Patras. Afternoon dances where ladies enter free, with neither ticket nor partner, but with a long, airy "domino" robe and a mask, in order to avoid recognition and select their dancing partners by their own initiative. During an age when the relation of the two sexes was under close supervision

WHERE: Megaro Galanopoulou (opposite the Roman Odeon) various nights

Kid's Carnival

Thousands of Children spend many hours in art classes getting ready for their parade

A spectacular take on the traditional Carnival for 5000 children who apply artistic skills they are learning in the classroom to make their contribution to the community's largest celebration.

Carnival is a form of folk expression combining many art forms with a special emphasis on the visual arts. The program allows the children to distinguish their abilities in artistic expression related to aesthetic or satirical masquerading while introducing the fun of Carnival to the younger generation. The Children's Carnival includes a parade with the participation of masqueraded children's groups from nurseries, kindergartens, musical schools and anyone who wants to participate. 

WHEN: Sunday before Carnival Sunday
Starts at Omonia Square with over 5.000 children participants

Carnival Saturday Night
IDOMATA, BOURBOULIA, MOONS, BABY RALLY, and the NIGHT PARADE on the eve of the last Sunday.

This is also called the "Nihterini Podarati" [Night Parade on foot].In earlier years, only the Treasure Hunt groups could participate, without their floats. However, the last few years every group is free to join. Night, bright lights, an overwhelming stream of people, colors and high spirits combine, create a spectacular scene.

Night parade takes places on Corinthou Street. Starting from Corinthou and Papaflessa street, it crosses King George Sq. and ends up to Korinthou and Kolokotroni Street.


Carnaval Sunday Grand Parade
The whole town, plus more than 300.000 visitors move to the rhythms, infectious high spirits of the dancing parade participants and the majesty and surprise of the gigantic satiric parade floats. This parade, unlike the Saturday's gets the best everyone has got to give after many weeks of preparation, its an explosion of extravagance. It starts  noon and goes for many hours.

One of the most striking aspects of the parade is the number of participants, said to number more than 35,000. This represents more than a hundred costumed groups or "omadas." These are large contingents with 50 to 3,000 participants, dressed in fun costumes and bubbling over with the joy of being part of Greece's greatest annual celebration of life.

The first reference to any vehicle resembling a parade float comes from Greece in about 500 B.C. when a statue of the god Dionysus was carried from his temple in a "festival car" pulled by two men. This procession was part of the opening ceremonies for a stage drama and was designed to gain favor from both the god and the drama critics.

WHERE: Takes place along Corinthou Street, the city’s longest street (5 km), with the participation of thousands of participants from all carnival groups. Highlights include chariots of the King of Carnival and  the chariot of the Queen of Carnival as well as the many exceptional floats built by the artizans working at the Carnival Workshop of the City of Patras. The float by the traditional “Chocolate War” and two orchestras of the City of Patras are also noteworthy.

Canival Sunday Night Closing Ceremonies
Following the Grand Parade on Sunday are important final events. This is the last Sunday of the Carnival and the eve of the first day of Lent or Clean Monday. The Carnival King is called upon to bid farewell to his subjects and to arrange a date for next year.
The King of Carnival Float will be part of the spectacular fireworks show

 The customary meeting of all crews will happen at the St. Nikolaos Street wharf  the central quay of the Patras harbour.  Tradition demands the announcement of the winners of the Treasure Hunt, the farewell of the Carnival King and burning of the float ,  announcements about the carnival to come,  endless dancing and fantastic fireworks. The show is  broadcast nationally on TV as are both the Saturday and Sunday parades.

The mayor declares the closing of this year’s Carnival and officially announces the next year’s theme. All festivities stop at midnight as everyone observes the beginning of Lent.

Clean Monday

The First Day of Lent Holiday throughout Greece

"The springtime of the Fast has dawned, the flower of repentance has begun to open."

Greece is a relatively religious country, with a rich heritage of beliefs, traditions and customs.

Clean Monday is also known as Ash Monday or Green or Pure Monday. Monday is the first day of Lent for the Eastern Orthodox Churches which uses a slightly different older calendar system the Catholic Church whose holiday is Ash Wednesday.

The first day of Lent is known as Clean Monday. It is called "clean" because it marks the start of the Lenten period during when your body and spirits are "cleansed" to prepare for accepting the Resurrection.

Clean Monday is a public holiday throughout Greece, a day of great celebration and traditions. Families take to the beach or countryside for picnics and kite-flying. Children make "Kyra Sarakosti," (Lady Lent), a paper doll with seven legs to represent the seven weeks of Lent. Every week, a leg is cut off to show how many weeks remain until Easter.

 The joyful, springtime atmosphere of Clean Monday is a distinctive  of the Orthodox approach to fasting which sites the Gospel lesson (Matthew 6:14-21) :

When ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face, that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret... (v. 16-18).

Foods during the seven weeks of Lent are fixed according to lenten restrictions. This generally means no meat or fish  and nothing from animals with blood (no milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs, etc.). However, Clean Monday has its own traditions, and all over Greece, tables will be laid with dishes that have been customary for generations.

Patras Carnival Office:
Tel : 2610-390900


Patra Municipality Institutions:

o CENTRE: 2610-390900
o FAX: 2610-346198
o FESTIVAL: 2610-390900, 2610-390912
o CARNIVAL OFFICE: 2610-390921
o CHILDREN'S CARNIVAL: 2610-314486

 e-mail: depap[at]
Future Carnival Dates
2010 Greek Carnival Dates

Triodion: Sunday, January 24th
Tsiknopempti or "Burnt Thursday": February 4th
Tsiknopempti Weekend: Friday, February 5th - Sunday, February 7th
Main Carnival Weekend: Friday, February 12th - Sunday, February 14th
Clean Monday: Monday, February 15th

2011 Greek Carnival Dates

Triodion: Sunday, February 12th
Tsiknopempti or "Burnt Thursday": February 24th
Tsiknopempti Weekend: Friday, February 25th - Sunday, February 27th
Main Carnival Weekend: Friday, March 4th - Sunday, March 6th
Clean Monday: Monday, March 7th

Julian Calendar
The reason is that the Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar when calculating Easter. This is case even in the churches that otherwise use the Gregorian calendar. When the Greek Orthodox Church in 1923 decided to change to the Gregorian calendar (or rather: a Revised Julian Calendar), they chose to use the astronomical full moon as seen along the meridian of Jerusalem as the basis for calculating Easter, rather than to use the "official" full moon.
Greek Orthodox Easter Sunday
2011 - -- - April 24th (= Western Easter) Karnavali Sunday March 7th, 2011
2012 - -- - April 15th so Apokries Sunday February 26th, 2012
2013 - -- - May 5th Carnival Sunday March 17th, 2013
2014 - -- - April 20th (= Western Easter) so Carnival Sunday March 2nd, 2014
2015 - -- - April 12th so Carnival Sunday February 22nd, 2015
2016 - -- - May 1st so Carnival Sunday March 13th, 2016
2017 - -- - April 16th (= Western Easter) so Carnival Sunday February 26th, 2017
2018 - -- - April 8th so Carnival Sunday February 18th, 2018
2019 - -- - April 28th so Carnival Sunday March 10th, 2019
2020 - -- - April 19th
2021 - -- - May 2nd
2022 - -- - April 24th
2023 - -- - April 16th
YOUTH are the stars
Thus, after 1968, was a seismic changes in the views of the Carnaval as the creative freedom and new entertainment ideas of the younger generation flowered to grace the Carnaval. The Carnival celebrates youth and their embrace of a global culture yet to be determined yet anxious to be seen and heard.
Where Carnival imagination is mad larger than life.
In this hive of creation, a unique army hews the floats with equal wisdom every year, introducing a special proposal to the cultural events of the country at the same time.

Mammoth-sized floats satirizing issues of concern such as politics and corruption are a tradition in the Patras carnival.. At the 2009 Carnival Parade Float madePatras_carnival_2009_St._George's_Square by cipherhood International headlines for alleged "irreverence" inspired by the Vatopedi scandal, a multi-million euro land swap between the state and a powerful monastery which came to light last year. But a missionary organisation in Patras  filed a legal complaint and demanding that the city be fined for authorizing the float. The floats show the same mastery as those built in the great float parades of Italy such as Viareggio and Putignano near the sister port City of Bari.

A workshop, where the floats of Patras Carnival and other decorative items are manufactured and preserved in. Petroto, Patras.
Open Monday to Friday 08.00-14.00

carrus navalis - the 1st parade floats

StellaMaris.jpgThe Carnival of Patras traces its parade history from 1870 onwards, when the bourgeois began financing the construction of carnival floats and the parade comes into being. However the word carnival comes from the Latin words “carrus navalis” which means wheel boat. Even today it is very common for festivals to  hold processions to the sea honoring the Stella Maris or "Star of the Sea;” a goddess of the seas who is believed responsible for delivering Greek sailors safely back to shore.

This understanding differs from the more popular explanation that modern Carnaval came about as the time the pagan spring Carnivals were allowed to vent themselves as long a the strict dietary restrictions and celebrations ceased with the fist day of Lent. That is that the two roots of Carnival are "Carne" and "valle" which translates to "farewell to the flesh."

Since 1990, in dozens of small and large Greek cities, usually by municipal initiative, carnival celebrations are organized, all in the footsteps of the Carnival of Patras (with parades of masqueraded youths).
To be able to purchase alcohol in Greece you must be 17, but there is no legal drinking age.

Greece, an ancient wine producing country, offer a wide variety of local wines, from indigenous and imported grape varieties, including fortified and even sparkling wines. Greek wines are generally not available on the international market, as production is relatively small, costs are quite high and little remains for export. However, in the past decade Greek wines have won many international prizes, with the rise of a new generation of wineries. Exports are rising as well.


Olympia,_Greece Elis, is known for having been the site of the Olympic Games in classical times

The sanctuary, known as the Altis, consists of an unordered arrangement of various buildings. Enclosed within the temenos (sacred enclosure) are the Temple of Hera (or Heraion/Heraeum) and Temple of Zeus, the Pelopion and the area of the altar, where the sacrifices were made. The hippodrome and later stadium were also to the east.

To the north of the sanctuary can be found the Prytaneion and the Philippeion, as well as the array of treasuries representing the various city states. The Metroon lies to the south of these treasuries, with the Echo Stoa to the East. To the south of the sanctuary is the South Stoa and the Bouleuterion, whereas the West side houses the Palaestra, the workshop of Pheidias, the Gymnasion and the Leonidaion.

Olympia is also known for the gigantic ivory and gold statue of Zeus that used to stand there, sculpted by Pheidias, which was named one of the Seven Wonders-of the Ancient World by Antipater of Sidon. Very close to the Temple of Zeus which housed this statue, the studio of Pheidias was excavated in the 1950s. Evidence found there, such as sculptor's tools, corroborates this opinion. The ancient ruins sit north of the Alfeios River and Mount Kronos (named after the Greek deity Kronos). The Kladeos, a tributary of the Alfeios, flows around the area. Its located in the part of Greece which is called Peloponesse.

Ruin of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia.
Ruins of the Temple of Hera
The edicts of Theodosius I and his successors on the throne of the Roman Empire, banning pagan cults, led to the gradual closure of Greek temples, or their conversion into Christian churches.

Thus ends the history of the Greek temple, although many of them remained in use for a long time afterwards. For example, the Athenian Parthenon, first reconsecrated as a church was turned into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest and remained structurally unharmed until the 17th century AD. Only the unfortunate impact of a Venetian cannonball into the building, then used to store gunpowder, led to the destruction of this important temple, more than 2,000 years after it was built.


Greek temples were designed and constructed according to set rules, mostly determined by the lower diameter of the columns or by the dimensions of the foundation levels. The nearly mathematical strictness of the basic designs thus reached was lightened by optical refinements. In spite of the still widespread idealised image, Greek temples were painted, so that bright reds and blues contrasted with the white of the building stones or of stucco. The more elaborate temples were equipped with very rich figural decoration in the form of reliefs and pedimental sculpture. The construction of temples was usually organised and financed by cities or by the administrations of sanctuaries. Private individuals, especially Hellenistic rulers, could also sponsor such buildings. In the late Hellenistic period, their decreasing financial wealth, along with the progressive incorporation of the Greek world within the Roman State, whose officials and rulers took over as sponsors, led to the end of Greek temple construction. New temples now belonged to the tradition of Roman architecture, which, in spite of the Greek influence on it, aimed for different goals and followed different aesthetic principles.

olympics/ History of the Olympic Games
edu/Olympics/ greece/bassae-temple-of-apollo-epicurius
[PDF] Across Millennia: Applying “Know Thyself” to Daily Life


Olympia / Ολυμπια
Olympia, lying in the angle between the rivers Alpheios and Kladeos, was a great Panhellenic sanctuary, the venue of the Olympic Games.The Ancient Olympic Games were an athletic and religious celebration held in the Greek town of Olympia from at least 776 BC to 393 AD.

"As in the daytime there is no star in the sky warmer and brighter than the sun, likewise there is no competition greater than the Olympic Games"

 the Greek poet Pindar said of the games in the 5th century BC.

There are an assortment of myths regarding the founding of the games but this is only because of their prominence. Whatever the origin, the games were held to be one of the two central rituals in Ancient Greece, the other being the Eleusinian Mysteries.

German excavations from 1875 onwards, which led to the establishment of the present village of Olympia, brought to light the sacred precinct which was known in antiquity as the Altis (sacred grove) and is now again planted with trees.

Situated at the foot of the wooded Mt Kronos in an area of gentle hills, the site of ancient Olympia - one of the great achievements of archeological excavation - makes an impact on the present-day visitor which is fully commensurate with its importance in ancient times.
A direct consequence of the excavation was the revival of the Olympic Games by French nobleman, Pierre Fredy, Baron de Coubertin. The Games of the Olympiad, better known as the Summer Olympics, have been held every fourth year since 1896. The first Games of modern times being held in Athens in 1896.

Unlike the Modern Olympic Games, only men who spoke Greek were allowed to participate in the Ancient Games. They were to some extent "international", though, in the sense that they included athletes from the various Greek city-states. Additionally, participants eventually came from Greek colonies as well, extending the range of the games to far shores of the Mediterranean and of the Black Sea.


 Temple of Zeus, Olympia (460 BC)

The Greeks referred to the Sanctuary of Zeus as the Altis. The name Altis came from a corruption of the Elean word for grove, alsos . Sanctuaries were centers of religious worship where the Greeks built temples, treasuries, altars, statues, and other structures.

The temple building normally stood inside a sacred enclosure known as the temenos— reflecting the rural origins of most cults. It generally included a natural feature such as a spring, a grove of trees or a cave which was the actual focus of public worship. It was the only part of the complex open to the general public— ordinarily, only priests were admitted into the divine presence to perform the necessary rituals on behalf of the community. Private groups and individuals were encouraged to contribute to the upkeep of the temple through offerings and dedications but otherwise, public participation was limited to taking part in religious festivals and processions. These culminated in lavish sacrifices of prime livestock at the god's altar which stood within the temenos but outside the temple proper.

These were occasions of great public celebration highlighted by feasts, athletic competitions and dramatic productions. The god or goddess was presented with gifts of jewellery and fine garments along with tableware and cutlery of silver and gold. Statues of young men (kouroi) and young women (korai) were dedicated to the deity as votive offerings and evidence of personal piety.

The architect Libon of Elis, who erected the Temple of Zeus at Olympia around 460 BC. With its 6 x 13 columns or 5 x 12 intercolumniations, this temple was designed entirely rationally. Its column bays (axis to axis) measured 16 foot, a triglyph + metope 8 foot, a mutulus plus the adjacent space (via) 4 foot, the tile width of the marble roof was 2 foot. Its columns are powerful, with only a slight entasis; the echinus of the capitals is already nearly linear at 45°. All of the superstructure is affected by curvature. The cella measures exactly 3 x 9 column distances (axis to axis), its external wall faces are aligned with the axes of the adjacent columns.

The Altis, the enclosure with its sacred grove, open-air altars and the tumulus of Pelops, was first formed during the ninth and tenth centuries BCE, when the followers of Zeus joined the pre-established following of Hera

Potsherds of the third millennium B.C. and apsidal houses of the second millennium bear witness to the early settlement of the site. Later the houses gave place to a sanctuary of Zeus which was associated with the older cult of Hera. Olympia lay within the territory of King Oinomaos of Pisa, who was succeeded by Pelops after his victory in a chariot race and his marriage to Oinomaos's daughter Hippodameia. A column from the palace of Oinomaos and the grave mound of Pelops (who gave his name to the Peloponnese) were still being shown to visitors when Pausanias visited the site in the A.D. second century.

The Greeks believed that Herakles had laid down the regulations for the Games and had specified the length of the stadion as 600ft/192 m. The crowns used as prizes were made of olive leaves that came from a wild olive tree in the Altis, which was called the olive of the Beautiful Crown.

From 776 B.C. onwards lists were kept of the winners in the foot race round the Stadion, giving rise to the Greek system of chronological reckoning by four year olympiad periods.


In order to be in the games one had to qualify and one's name written down in the lists. It seems that only young people were allowed to participate, as the Greek writer Plutarch relates that one young man was rejected for seeming too mature, and only after his boyfriend interceded with the king of Sparta, who presumably vouched for his youth, was he permitted to participate. Before being able to participate, everyone had to take an oath in front of the statue of Zeus saying that you had been in training for 10 months.

The temple of Zeus
While many writers described the statue this image on this coin is the only surviving depiction

This as a Doric peripteral temple,  which means that it consists of a rectangular floor plan with a series of low steps on every side, Construction was the work of the Elean architect Libon is dated at 470-456 B.C.
It was erected on the southern part of the Altis, on a free section of land. The dimensions of the Doric temple were imposing, thus giving it an impressive image. On the same level as the Heraion, the Temple of Zeus was dominating the sanctuary due to its size, the stone columns on its sides and the magnificent pediments with sculptured compositions in the severe style, featuring Zeus and Apollo as its central figures. The twelve metopes of the temple depicted the labours of Hercules.

The most important architectural innovation of the Greeks was the external colonnade (pteron) which emerged sometime in the seventh century BC. It formed a sort of curtain around (peri-) the temple— solid but transparent— screening the sanctuary and the cult image from the outside world. Columns had been used for thousands of years in the ancient world but primarily inside buildings, to support the ceilings of large halls or to line the inside of open courtyards.
The visitor after crossing the pronaos entered into the three-aisled cella where stood the magnificent gold and ivory (chryselephantine) statue of Zeus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The statue was 12m high and featured the ruler of the word Zeus, sitting on a throne, holding his scepter in his left hand and a winged Nike in his right. Near the opisthodomus of the Temple of Zeus grew a wild olive tree, the "Callistephanos Elaia" whose branches were used to make the wreaths for the winners.

Other events were added later - in the eighth century the two-stade race, the long-distance race and the pentathlon, in the seventh century boxing, chariot-racing and the pankration, in the sixth century a race with weapons as well as boxing, wrestling, pankration (regulated full-contact fighting, similar to today's mixed martial arts), chariot racing, several other running events (the diaulos, hippios, dolichos, and hoplitodromos), as well as a pentathlon, consisting of wrestling, stadion, long jump, javelin throw and discus throw (the latter three were not separate events).

The addition of events meant the festival grew from 1 day to 5 days, 3 of which were used for competition. The other 2 days were dedicated to religious rituals intertwined with the opening and closing ceremonies. On the final day, there was a banquet for all of the participants, consisting of 100 oxen that had been sacrificed to Zeus on the first day.

 The winners received a branch from the sacred olive-tree, but could also expect substantial material rewards on their return to their native city(in Athens, 500 drachma, a small fortune equivalent to about $300,000 today. Athletes received precious gifts, free meals and even made appearances for renumeration. Such benefits, in tandem with fame and adulation that bordered on worship

The finishing line of the race round the Stadion was originally near the temple of Zeus, in front of which, facing the runners, was Paionios's statue of Nike (Victory) - underlining the religious significance of the race, victory in which was granted by Zeus, the supreme god of the Greek pantheon.

Finally, in AD 394 the Olympic Games - one of the foundations of Greek religion, with their polytheistic observances - fell victim to the religious campaign of the Christian Roman emperor Theodosius I, which consisted of the violent obliteration of all surviving Pagan institutions. They were finally banned by the Emperor Theodosius, and came to an end in A.D. 393 after an existence of more than a thousand years.

Hermes of Praxiteles
Art lovers flock to the archaeological museum to marvel at the Hermes of Praxiteles. Made from Parian marble it stands 2,10m in height. It is thought to be an original of the great sculptor Phidias and it is dated to ca. 330 B.C. although archeologists will never agree


The excavations at Olympia were begun in May 1829, two years after the battle of Navarino, by French archaeologists.
The finds (metopes from the opisthodomus and parts of the metopes from the pronaos of the Temple of Zeus) were transferred to the Louvre where they are still being exhibited. When the Greek government was informed of the looting of artifacts, the excavation was stopped.
Excavations started again 45 years later by German archaeologists. The research is being continued to this day by the German Institute of Archaeology in Athens, and the Ephorate of Antiquities in Olympia.


Olympia site map: #4 Temple of Hera is in dark purple (top center). The long ancient Olympic stadium is at far right.
Getting There:
Branch railroad line Pyrgos-Olympia.
From Athens or Corinthia take a train through Patra to Pyrgos. There you change to an even smaller narrow-gauge train for Olympia.
You're looking for Olympia, on the Peloponnesus, and not Mount Olympus, north of Athens!

From Katakolon port: Katakolon situated 35 km from Ancient Olympia town, aproximately 25 minutes drive.

Kyllini is a historic resort town located 70 km southeast of Patras on the Ionian Sea near the southern entry to the Gulf of Patras. It has regular ferry service to the Ionian islands and host some of the Peloponnese most celebrated beach resort hotels.  img038 Griechenland - Robinson Club Kyllini Beach - Urlaub - 08-1988 by Harald HAEUSLER.

It is part of the newer municipality of Kastro - Kyllini is under the responsibility of the Ilia's prefecture and covers 49,3 th. sq. m. having a population of 4.398 (1991 census). It contains four municipal departments, which are: Kastro (857 inhabitants) where the chlemoutsi castle located, Kato Panayia (1266 inhab.), Neohori (1323 inhab.) and Kyllini (952 inhab.) which is the capital of the area.

Ancient Kyllini is mentioned from Homer (8th century B.C.) as a participant in the Trojan expedition (12th century B.C.). It was the seaport of the town-state Ilis, which was the organizer of the Olympic Games

The foundation of the Principality of Achaia is dated from the Frankish domination, which followed, with its castle Chlemoutsi (Clermont, Castle Tornese) and its port Glarentza (Clarence) in lieu of ancient Kyllini. The region flourished only during the reign of the hegemonies of the Villearduins. This was followed by the economic exploitation of a series of "gentlemen" who were administering the region from distant administration centers while attacks from pirates were the cause of further decline and decay. In 1427, the region passed on to Constantine Paleologos, last emperor of Byzantium, for a brief period, and then fell under the Ottoman occupation (1453 - 1821) with only a short interval when the Venetians occupied it from 1687 - 1715.

Besides the beautiful sandy beach nicely accented by some of the Pelopen best resort hotels there is a Venetian constructed castle Cornese Castle and Kyllini Springs. The beautiful monastery of Vlaherna is an evidence of the flourishing period of the region together with the remaining "Morea", during the Byzantine years

This is also  the departure point for Ionian islands of Zakynthos and Kefalonia.

Chlemoutsi Castle
It is situated at the top of a hill 250 m.high, called with the ancient name Helonata.

Free admission for:
University students from Greece and the E.U.
Tickets Full: €3, Reduced: €2
Summer hours: (April 1 - October 31) are 12 PM - 7 PM Mondays, and 8 AM - 7 PM the rest of the week. Winter hours (November 1 - March 31) are 8:30 AM - 3 PM Tuesday - Sunday


The Temple of Epikourios Apollo:
 located in the town of Nea Figali, is one of the most best preseved ancient temples to be found anywhere in Greece. It is the first with all three architectural styles: Doric, Ionian and Corinthian. The temple was erected on a raised area, 1,131m, called the 'Bassai', meaning little vale in the rocks.
It is a Doric peripheral temple made from local limestone, and
Epikourios Apollon Temple A "temporary" protective tent was erected over the temple in 1987 that still remains in place today. .

 consists of a prodome and a cella. It is orientated north to south. In the cella there was a column with a corinthian capital, which is the oldest known example of its kind.

This magnificent temple was created in approximately 420BC. It was built by the famous architect Iktinos, who also built the stunning Parthenon temple that sits on the Acropolis of Athens. After Iktinos completed the Parthenon temple, he was exiled by the Athenians, and sent to Figali. The reason for this was that the Athenians did not want him building another temple that would rival that of the Parthenon. Secretly however, Iktinos began the construction of the temple.

Floor Plan of Bassae Temple
The unusual floor plan of the Temple of Apollo at Bassae.

Plan and interior reconstruction of the Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae. Note the side entrance to the cella and the single Corinthian column.

The temple was decorated with a marble sculpted frieze depicting the battles between the Amazons and the Centaurs. The frieze's marbles have been looted by the British and can now be found in the British Museum.
It was built over an older temple, by the inhabitants of Figalos in honour of Epicurean Apollo, gratitude for saving them from a plague. The name Epicuros was given to Apollo ca. 650 B.C., during the wars against the Spartans

In 1902, the 1st Archaeological society of Athens began systematic archaeological research of the area, under the direction of K.Kourouniotis, with the assistance of K.Romaios and P.Kavvadias. It was continued in 1959, 1970 and from 1975-1979, under the direction of N.Gialouris.
Small scale restorations have been carried out by the civil engineer N.Balanos and professor H.Bouras. More recently, research has been completed, by the Committee of the Temple of Epicurean Apollo, for the restoration of the temple.
At the present time conservation work on the temple is being done under the supervision of the Committee of the Epicurean Apollo, which is based in Athens.

The Temple of Apollo the Helper stands on a rocky outcropping of Mt. Kotilion (Palaiavlachitsa) at an altitude of 3,710 feet (1131m). The many ravines (Βασσαι) surrounding the terrace give the site its general name. Locals refer to the temple as stous stylous ("the columns") or the Naos (after the innermost part of the temple). It is accessible by road and located 14.5km from the town of Andritsaina.


A fine beach of golden sand and clean waters. There are restaurants, bars and hotels so one combines a drive with refreshments. Near to Zacharo is the lake and thermal springs of Kaiafa which have been known since ancient times for their healing properties. Between the lake and the sea is a Kourouta beach strip of pine forest extending up to the sea. The golden sandy long and wide beach is one of the most beautiful in Greece.

A long, more than 10 km and wide golden sandy beach with restaurants, bars and night life at the area of Kourouta. At the middle of this long beach next to the sea there is an unspoiled pine forest. In the evening have your ouzo with local mezes at the municipal camping restaurant next to the sea and enjoy one of the best sunsets in Greece.

Aghios Andreas
Very near to Katakolo is the attractive bay of Aghios Andreas whose beach is usually lively and full of young people attracted by the numerous water-sports. Have an evening drink at the nearby restaurants and admire the fantastic scenery with an unforgettable sunset.

Other Beaches
Fine beaches of golden sand and clean waters can be found at Kylini, Arkoudi, Kastro, Marathia, Palouki,Kalo Nero and others.


Amaliada Town
Amaliada is the second town in Ilia perfecture It is a commercial center with a lot of supermakets which facilitate the tourists of the nearby 5 campings.

is an inland village with some taverns at the central squere offerig delicious kalamaki souvlaki. Next to the village is an airport recently used by charter companies for they flights to the area.

is one of the prefecture's two main ports. It is a peaceful place with intense Greek colour and character. It has all tourist facilities one might need, such as hotels, restaurants and bars. Being near to Olympia it's the main port for cruises visiting the the anchient Olympia

Ilia villageLala
Lala is the plateau of Folois, on the foothills of Mt Erymanthos. This huge oak forest is the mythical home of the kindly centaur Folos who gave shelter to Hercules. To the south of the prefecture, near Ancient Figaleia, flows the torrent of the river Nedas which forms small cataracts. The locals call the river "white-water" and the cataracts can be reached by a path, which offers wonderful vistas of the surrounding countryside.

a traditional Greek village with natural shade in the yards from the overhanging vines, mulberry trees and small taverns with genuine Greek dishes and local delicacies.

Northeast of Pirgos after Krestena, is the traditional village of Andritsaina with its stone houses, cobbled footpaths and spacious square beneath the shade of huge plane trees.

Other Villages
Other villages are Varholomio, Lechaina, Gastouni, Manolada with its tasty watermelons and the picturesque mountain village of Divri.


Camping are everywhere in the extended sandy beaches of Ilia prefecture. Campings can be founded in the organized beaches of Ioniko, Thines, Glyfa, Loutra Kylline, Kalamia, Kourouta, Palouki and others.


The first historical reference to the Games is in 776 B.C., when a treaty between kings Iphitos of Elis and Lykourgos of Sparta provided for an Olympic truce (ekecheiria) during the summer Games. However, these were not  not the first Games to be held. The Olympic Games were held in four year intervals, and later the Greek method of counting the years even referred to these Games, using the term Olympiad for the period between two Games.

The Greeks in historical times used the Olympiads to count years, much as we today use AD and BC.

Thus, by that chronology, the first Olympiad would have taken place in 919 BC

1 of 4 games
In 12 BC Herod the Great gave financial support to the Games to enable its future survival.The Olympic Games were part of the Panhellenic Games, four separate games held at two- or four-year intervals but arranged so that there was at least one set of games every year. The Olympic Games were the most important and most prestigious of these.

The ancient Greeks were highly competitive and believed strongly in the concept of "agon", or "competition" or "contest". The ultimate Greek goal was to be the best. All aspects of life, especially athletics, were centered around this concept. It was therefore considered one of the greatest honors to win a victory at Olympia. The fact that the only prize given at Olympia was an olive wreath illustrates this point. The athletes competed for honor, not for material goods.

Athletics were of prime importance to the Greeks. The education of boys concentrated on athletics and music as well as academic subjects such as philosophy. Education took place in the gymnasion and the palaistra as well as the academy.
It is often said that wars were halted during the Games but this is not true; however, athletes, who were often soldiers, were permitted to leave the army to participate in the Games, and were guaranteed safe passage through enemy territory. Every four years heralds traveled throughout the Greek world proclaiming a sacred truce giving safe passage through any state for athletes and spectators traveling to and from the games.Olympiad. Messengers were known as "spondorophoroi" and they called for a truce and cessation of all hostilities for a period of one month (later three months) to allow for the safe travel of athletes to and from Olympia.

During the competition the truce extended to the city-state of Elis, near Olympia, as well. For the most part the truce was carefully observed, although in 420BC the Spartans were banned from the games for attacking a town in Elis' territory during the truce and in 364BC the Arcadians and Eleans fought a pitched battle for control of the games inside the sanctuary itself, while the pentathlon was in full swing

Participation in the games was limited to male athletes; the only way women were allowed to take part was to enter horses in the equestrian events. In 396 BC and again in 392 BC, the horses of a Spartan princess named Cynisca won her the four-horse race.
The athletes usually competed naked, not only as the weather was appropriate but also as the festival was meant to celebrate, in part, the achievements of the human body. Olive oil was occasionally used by the competitors, not only to keep skin smooth but also to provide an appealing look for the participants.
a grueling combination of boxing and wrestling. Punches were allowed, although the fighters did not wrap their hands with the boxing himantes.
They were open to all free Greek males, and later Roman citizens too, drawing competitors from Spain to the Black Sea.
Competitors were not even above switching city states for money. The travel writer Pausanias tells us of a Cretan long-distance running champion, Sotades, who became an Ephesian having been offered a bribe by the people of Ephesus.

After the Battle of Chaironeia in 338 BC, Philip of Makedon and his son Alexander gained control over the Greek city-states. They erected the Philippeion (a family memorial) in the sanctuary, and held political meetings at Olympia during each Olympiad. In 146 BC, the Romans gained control of Greece and, therefore, of the Olympic games. In 85 BC, the Roman general Sulla plundered the sanctuary to finance his campaign against Mithridates. Sulla also moved the 175th Olympiad (80 BC) to Rome.

Ruins of the Temple of Hera
The most breathtaking example of race rigging occurred in AD67 when the Roman emperor Nero took part in a 10-horse chariot race, an event added just for his benefit.

Despite falling from his chariot and not completing the race Nero was declared the winner - although years later after his death Nero's name was symbolically deleted from the champions list.


Phidias or Pheidias  circa 480 BC – 430 BC), was a Greek sculptor, painter and architect, who lived in the 5th century BC, and is commonly regarded as one of the greatest of all sculptors of Classical Greece
File:Amazzone ferita - Wounded Amazon - Phidias - Musei Capitolini Roma.jpg
Wounded Amazon - Musei Capitolini, Rome- This may have been created by Phidias or one of his students.
Among the ancient Greeks themselves two works of Phidias far outshone all others, the colossal chryselephantine figures in gold and ivory of Zeus circa 432 BC on the site where it was erected in the temple of Zeus,[8] at Olympia, Greece, and of Athena Parthenos (literally, "Athena the Virgin") a sculpture of the Greek virgin goddess Athena named after an epithet for the goddess herself, and was housed in the Parthenon in Athens.
Reconstruction of the chryselephantine statue of Athena Parthenos (literally, "Athena the Virgin") at The Jasmine Hill Gardens at Wetumpka, Alabama (USA) contain a full-sized replica of the (ruined) Temple of Hera.  Zeus and many others were made by the sculptor Phidias at his workshop rediscovered an on the site at Olympia.