Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens

Embark on a journey through time at the Temple of Zeus, a monumental piece of history in the heart of Athens. This ancient marvel, also known as the Temple of Olympian Zeus, is a gateway to Greek mythology's rich and mystical world. Constructed in the 6th century BC, it took around 700 years to complete, a testament to the enduring spirit and architectural prowess of the Greeks.

As you wander through the temple's grounds, you are treading the same paths where once great philosophers and scholars debated. Despite the ravages of time, 15 of the original 104 colossal columns still stand proudly, each soaring 17 meters into the sky, offering a tangible connection to the past.

The Temple of Olympian Zeus is more than just an archaeological site; it celebrates history, mythology, and art. The intricate carvings and the sheer scale of the structure are bound to leave you in awe. It is where history comes alive, allowing you to experience the grandeur and the glory of ancient Greece firsthand.

Attractions of the Temple of Zeus

Corinthian columns of Temple of Zeus
The Corinthian Order capitals of the Olympian Zeus

The Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens is renowned for its stunning Corinthian columns, a defining feature of ancient Greek architecture. These columns, originally numbering 104 and now reduced to 15, stand as a testament to the architectural creativity of the era. Each column, reaching 17 meters high, showcases the Corinthian order's distinct style, characterised by ornate capitals adorned with acanthus leaves. This design was primarily the work of Roman architect Decimus Cossutius under the patronage of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, blending Hellenistic and Roman influences. The Corinthian capital, conceptualised as a blossoming acanthus plant, embodies the artistic vision of the sculptor Callimachus.

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Sculpture at Temple of Zeus
Imperial cult and Panhellenic ambitions

The Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens honoured the ancient deities and played a pivotal role in its era's imperial cult and Panhellenic ambitions. Completed by Roman Emperor Hadrian in AD 131, the temple symbolised the fusion of Greek and Roman cultures. It housed majestic statues of Zeus and Hadrian, underscoring the close ties between religion and imperial power. The temple's grandeur mirrored Hadrian's vision of Athens as a cultural and political hub. You can see his impact in the many statues and writings in the temple. They reflect his goal to bring together the Greek East by supporting culture and religion. This blend of divine and imperial worship marks a significant chapter in the temple's storied history.

Fallen Columns of The Temple of Zeus
Fallen columns

The fallen columns of The Temple of Zeus, Athens bear silent witness to the ravages of time and nature. One of these columns collapsed during strong winds in 1852, These remnants speak volumes about the ancient engineering prowess and the historical upheavals the temple has withstood. The temple's history is etched in these fallen structures, from its plundering of building materials during various invasions to the natural disasters that struck it. They serve as a bridge between the past and present, inviting visitors to ponder the temple's glorious and tumultuous history.

Temple Of Zeus
Stylite monks

The Temple of Zeus in Athens also holds a fascinating connection to the Stylite monks, known for their unique ascetic practices. These monks, who were looking for spiritual enlightenment found isolated shelters on top of pillars, some of which were a part of the temple. Their presence added a distinctive spiritual dimension to the site. Initially serving as a Byzantine watchtower, these columns later became the abode of the Stylite monks. Their choice to inhabit such an unconventional dwelling reflects their commitment to isolation and spiritual pursuit. The temple's history gives you a glimpse into the different religious activities that used to take place at this famous place.

History of the Temple of Zeus

Temple of Olympian Zeus

The Temple of Olympian Zeus, an architectural masterpiece in Athens, summarises the grandeur of ancient Greek and Roman civilisations. Also known as the Olympieion, its construction began in the 6th century BC and reached completion under Roman Emperor Hadrian in 131 AD. Initially planned by Peisistratos the Younger in 515 BC to be Greece's largest temple, the project faced numerous interruptions. However, Emperor Hadrian, a fervent admirer of Greek culture, accomplished its grand vision.

This temple, one of the largest in the ancient world, symbolises the blend of Greek and Roman architectural magnificence. Under Hadrian's rule, the temple’s precinct expanded, incorporating significant structures including the Temple of Zeus Panhellenios and the Temple of Kronos and Rhea. The monumental Hadrian's Arch, standing at 18 meters, marked the sanctuary's entrance, reflecting the era's architectural ambition.

Today, the Temple stands as a partial ruin, its remaining columns echoing the splendour of a bygone era.

The construction of the Temple of Zeus

Temple of Zeus in Athens

The construction of the Temple of Zeus is a monumental tale of ancient Greek architectural ambition. Its inception in the 6th century BC under Peisistratos the Younger marked the beginning of a project that would span nearly seven centuries. The temple's completion, evidence of the era's engineering prowess, was finally achieved under the Roman Emperor Hadrian in 132 AD. He also commissioned Hadrian's Arch nearby as a grand gateway linking the temple with the ancient city. This arch, completed in 131 AD, featured exquisite carvings and inscriptions celebrating Hadrian as the founder of Athens.

This magnificent structure, positioned 500 meters southeast of the Acropolis, originally showcased 104 colossal Corinthian columns, each towering at 15 meters. Crafted from the pristine white marble of Mount Pentelicus, the temple was a sight to behold. Today, only 15 of these impressive columns remain standing, with one lying intact on the ground, telling a story of past glories and the relentless passage of time.

Interior of Temple of Zeus

Interior of Temple of Zeus

The interior of the Temple of Zeus, Athens, a masterpiece of ancient architecture, was as grand as its exterior. Inside, the temple housed magnificent statues embodying the splendour of the era. A notable feature was a colossal statue of Zeus, crafted in chryselephantine, a luxurious combination of gold and ivory. This statue, mirroring the grandeur of Phidias' Athena in the Parthenon, symbolised religious reverence and artistic excellence. Alongside Zeus stood an equally impressive statue of Emperor Hadrian, reflecting the fusion of Greek religious tradition with Roman imperial power.

The temple's design followed the classical Doric style, with its interior adorned with limestone and marble. Thirteen columns lined each side, with six more at each end, creating a majestic hall. The opulent sculptural decorations inside, exemplifying the Severe Style, depicted mythological scenes like the chariot race between Pelops and Oinomaos. There were scenes of the battle of the Lapiths and Centaurs as well, showcasing the artistic zenith of the period.

Exploring The Grandeur of The Temple of Zeus in Athens

The Majestic Temple of Zeus in Athens

Step into the majestic realm of the Temple of Zeus in Athens, a grand testament to the architectural brilliance of ancient Greece. As you approach, the remnants of once towering Corinthian columns, each soaring to a staggering 17 meters, inspire awe. These columns, standing resolute against the passage of time, are silent guardians of history, symbolising the temple's ancient glory.

Walking through the grounds transports you to a land where Greek mythology intertwines with historical grandeur. The temple, also known as the Olympieion, is a monumental structure that once housed statues of Zeus and Roman Emperor Hadrian. 

Set against the vibrant backdrop of Athens' cityscape, this historical masterpiece offers a serene yet powerful reminder of the ancient world's splendour. Its open, grassy terrace and the 15 remaining colossal columns stand as silent witnesses to the temple's past magnificence.

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Location & Opening Hours
The Best Time to Visit
How to Reach
 Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens


The Temple is located in Athens, Greece. It is about 500 metres southeast of the Acropolis and approximately 700 metres south of the centre of Athens, Syntagma Square. The official location of the Temple is Archaia Olympia 270 65, Greece.

Opening Hours:

  • November to March: The Temple is open every day of the week between 08:30 a.m. to 03:00 p.m. with the last entry at 02:30 p.m. 
  • April to October: It remains open between 08:00 a.m. to 07:00 p.m. with the last entry time at 06:30 p.m.
  • The Temple remains closed on January 1st, March 25th, May 1st, Easter Sunday, December 25th and December 26th.

Tips to Visit the Temple of Zeus

Columns at Temple of Zeus
  • Wear shoes with good support to ensure that you explore the temple comfortably.
  • Avoid sitting on the grass next to the temple, since it is prohibited. You can only sit on dedicated benches on the premises.
  • Carrying water is essential for hydration to combat the often intense heat, especially during summer months.
  • Visiting The Temple of Zeus in Athens early in the morning is recommended to avoid the usual crowds and the midday heat.
  • Allocate sufficient time to explore and truly appreciate the site's rich history and intricate architecture, and check out for any special cultural events for an enriching experience. .
  • Enhance your visit with a guide or an audio guide as it can provide valuable historical insights and context.
  • Always remember to respect the preservation rules to maintain the sanctity of this historical monument.

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Temple of Olympian Zeus: Skip The Line Ticket
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  • Skip the line to visit the Temple of Olympian Zeus, one of ancient Athens' most significant temples

  • Take some amazing pictures with the adjacent Acropolis and the temple ruins as your backdrop

  • Admire the 16 columns that have survived the centuries and visualize of how this monument looked like when it was first built

  • Find out the interesting tales of the violent thunderstorm which caused severe damage to the temple

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Must Know Before You Go
  • Last admission is 30 minutes before closing.
  • All participants are required to show ID on arrival.
  • All international participants will have to share passport and visa details on arrival.
  • Please do not carry any luggage or large bags.
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FAQs of Temple of Zeus

Why is the Temple of Zeus Famous?

    The Temple of Zeus in Athens is renowned for its historical and architectural significance. It was one of the largest temples in the ancient world, dedicated to Zeus, the chief deity in Greek mythology. The temple, known for its grandeur and colossal size, featured 104 massive Corinthian columns, of which only 15 remain standing today. These ruins symbolise ancient Greek civilisation's artistic and cultural achievements, making it a focal point for historians and tourists.

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