7 Wonders of the Ancient World

                                                 ..::Statue of Zeus at Olympia::..

Zeus, the King of all the Greek Gods, his statue was at the Temple of Zeus. But the temple got destroyed. But did Zeus survive?


In the ancient town of Olympia, on the west coast of modern Greece.


In ancient times, Greeks held their most important festivals: The Olympic Games. These where made to honour one person, King of all Greek Gods: Zeus. Like our modern Olympics, athletes came from different places including Aisa Minor, Syria, Egypt and Sicily, to compete, and try and win the games. The Olympic games where held at a shrine made for Zeus the games held every four years helped join the Greek city-states. During the games, wars stopped. Safe way was given to all going to the site, for the season of the games.

The place had a stadium and a sacred grove, where temples located the Shrine to Zeus was very simple in the early years, but as time flew by and the games became more popular and important is became so clear that they needed a new temple on worthy for the King of Gods. And so the Temple of Zeus was made, along with years later the statue of the King of Gods.


The ancient Greek calendar starts in 776 BC, the famous Olympic Games are said to start that year too. The beautiful temple of Zeus was made by Libon (who was an architect) and was built around the time of 450 BC. Under the growing power that Ancient Greece has, the simple temple seemed to be uninteresting, and changed were definitely needed. The people came up with what they would do, the answer: A royal statue. The famous Athenian sculptor Pheidias was asked to make this statue of the most famous ancient Greek God.

For many years after, the temple fascinated tourists and worshippers from all other the world. In the second century BC, repairs were made to the old statue. In first century AD, the Roman King, Caligula tried to take the statue to Rome, but, his attempt failed when the scaffolding collapsed. After, the Olympic games were forbidden in AD 391 by the King Theodosius I, the temple of Zeus was ordered to close.

Olympia was struck by earthquakes, landslides and floods. The temple was hurt in the 5th Centaury AD. But before that, the statue was transported by rich Greeks to a palace in Constantinople. There, is lived until it was burnt by a very bad fire in AD 462. Now, nothing remains of the temple apart from rocks, debris, the foundation of the temple and fallen columns.

Why Was It Made?

Pheidias is probably the greatest classical sculptor, so in 440 BC, when it was decided that Zeus should preside via statue at the Onlympic games, at Olympia, those responsible for honouring the King of the Gods commissioned Pheidias. The ivory and gold-covered statue of Zeus that Pheidas made sat in the temple.


Pheidias began working on the statue around the year of 440 BC, heaps of years earlier, he had made a techmique to build a massive gold and ivory statues. This was made by erecting a wooden frame, which was on sheets of metal and ivory were places to  provide the outer covering for the statue. Pheidas’ workshop in Olympia is still standing. There, he made the pieces of the statue before they were put together.

When the statue was finished, it hardly fit into the temple, Strabo wrote:

“Although the temple itself is very large, the sculptor is criticized for not having appreciated the proportions. He has shown Zeus seated, but with the head almost touching the ceiling, so that we have the impression that if Zeus moved to stand up he would unroof the temple.”

Strabo was correct, apart from that the sculptor is to be congratulated, not critized. It’s the size idea that made the state so amazing. It’s the idea the King of Gods is able to unroof the temple if he stood up that awestruck poets and historians. The base of the statue was around 6.5 m wide and 1 m high. The height of the statue was 13 m, the same size as a modern 4-story construction.

The statue was so tall that the visitors described the throne more than Zeus himself! The legs of the throne was decorated with sphinxes and winged things of Victory. Greek Gods and other mythical things also where on the throne, there was: Appollo, Artemis and Niobe’s children.