The count of the modern-day Olympic Games begins in the year 1896, when the first such event took place in Athens. They were conceived by French historian Pierre de Coubertin, who had drawn his idea from the ancient Olympic Games that were held in a small town on the Greek peninsula of Peloponnese.

Olympia, however, was not primarily associated with athletic competition back then. It was rather a sanctuary dedciated to the Greek god Zeus, god of sky and thunder. People from all over Greece came here to worship Zeus and other gods. In those days, the site consisted of more than 750 important buildings. Visitors to Olympia can view the ruins of many of them, including temples. They were mostly excavated in the 9th century, mainly by French and German archaeologists, although some scientific work is still in Progress there. In the course of these works, it was determined that Olympia once held a giant statue of Zeus. This statue, which stood 12 meters tall, was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

The statue and the temple were the site all athletes went to before entering the competition. Those athletic events are believed to have started in the 8th century BC. Next to several other ancient treasures in town, the remnants of the Olympia Stadium continues to be a major attraction for visitors. The ancient starting blocks on the track and the vaulted tunnel through which the athletes entered can still be seen here.

When the modern-day Olympic Games were held in Athens in 2004, the stadium was restored to become the venue of the shot put competition. Before each Games, the Olympic flame is lit at Olympia by reflecting the sunlight in a parabolic mirror before it embarks on a relay journey all the way to the respective host city. That ceremony takes place in front of the ruins of the Temple of Hera.

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