Temple of Zeus Facts
To the ancient Greeks Zeus was the King of the Gods and "father of Gods and men". To honor him they built the largest and most magnificent temple in Greece at
Olympia. The Temple of Zeus was a stunningly beautiful example of Ancient Greek Architecture. Inside they erected a huge statue of Zeus, which was one of the Seven
Wonders of the Ancient World. A sad fact is that today what remains of this amazing building and statue are just a few columns and scattered stones. The structure was
built where many earthquakes have occurred that have taken their toll on the structure. Men, women, and kids who visit these ruins may be disappointed by the poor
condition of the once amazing temple.
The list of information below has interesting facts about this amazing example of Greek Architecture which will help you understand why it was so magnificent.
General Temple of Zeus Facts
- The temple was built in Olympia the site where the ancient Greek Olympic Games were held in honor of Zeus.
- The architect of the temple of Zeus was the famous Libon of Elis.
- Construction began around 470 BC and was completed around 456 BC.
- The temple was rectangular with six columns on the shorter sides and thirteen columns on the long sides. The columns were 57 feet high (17.25 meters) which is taller
than those of the Parthenon.
- The temple was built in the ancient Greek architectural organizational systems called the Doric order.
- Inside the temple were sculptured figures and other artworks made of marble, gold, bronze, and other precious metals.
- Due his belief in Christianity Roman emperor Theodosius II had the temple set on fire due to its connection to pagan beliefs. This badly damaged the structure. Earthquakes in 551 AD and 552 AD all but destroyed the once amazing building.
- In 1829 the French conducted the first excavations of the temple clearing a large portion of the area. German excavations followed in the late 1800s with numerous
excavations continuing even to today.
Facts about the Statue of Zeus Inside the Temple of Zeus
- The statue of Zeus was approximately 43 feet high (13 meters).
- The famous ancient Greek sculptor Phidias made the statue. He also made the famous statue of the goddess Athena named the Athena Parthenos which can be found inside
the Parthenon in Athens.
- It took approximately twelve years to complete the massive statue and to place it inside the Temple of Zeus.
- The sculpture had a wreath of olive sprays on its head.
- In the right hand was a sculpture of the Greek goddess Nike.
- In the left hand the statue held a scepter with an eagle perched on top.
- Zeus's statue was made of gold, ivory, ebony, and precious stones.
- Gold was used in many places including the statues sandals and robe. The throne also contained gold.
- What happened to the statue is in question. It is most likely that it was destroyed in 426 AD when Roman Emperor Theodosius II ordered the destruction of all the
temples at Olympia due to their pagan connections.