Athenian rulers began construction of the Temple of Olympian Zeus (Naós tou Olympíou Diós) in the sixth century BC. By the time Roman Emperor Hadrian completed it 600 years later, it was the largest temple in Greece, and its statue of Zeus—king of the gods of Mt. Olympus—was one of the largest in the world. The temple began to fall into ruin shortly after it was finished; today only 15 of its original 104 columns still stand and much of its marble has been recycled or stolen for other temples. Nonetheless, what remains is a truly impressive sight to see.
Most sightseeing tours of Athens include a stop at the Temple of Zeus, whether they are full-day or half-day tours. If you have a special interest in ancient Athens, you may want to book a small-group or private walking tour with an expert guide. A unified ticket valid for five days is available for the Temple of Zeus and other Athens archaeological sites and museums such as the Acropolis Museum, Hadrian’s Library, Ancient Agora, and Lykeion.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Admission is free on certain Sundays and holidays throughout the year.
- The temple is accessible to wheelchair users.
- The entire site is outdoors, so dress appropriately for the weather.
How to Get to There
The Temple of Zeus is about a quarter mile (0.4 kilometers) southeast of the Acropolis in the center of Athens, and stands the same distance south of Syntagma Square and the Parliament Building. Walk along Vasilissis Amalias Avenue from Syntagma Square, passing by the National Gardens and the edge of the famous Plaka neighborhood. The nearest metro station is Akropoli, about 1,650 feet (500 meters) from the entrance.
When to Get There
The Temple of Zeus is open year-round, with slightly longer hours in summer. Visit early in the day to beat the crowd—and, in summer, the heat.
The Archaeological Site of Olympieion
The Temple of Olympian Zeus forms part of the larger site of Olympieion, which gives visitors a glimpse into the ancient city of Athens. The site includes the Temple of the Delphinian Apollo and the Law Court at the Delphinion, both dating to 500 BC; the gates of the Themistoclean Wall, dating to around 479 BC; and public baths dating to AD 124–132. Just outside the fences of the site stands Hadrian’s Arch, which dates back to AD 131.