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The Temple of Zeus

Delphi stared up in awe at the sheer height of the columns in front of her.  The place was huge.

“When’s it going to be finished?” she asked.

The man who was organising slaves to shift the huge blocks of stone gave her a look – it was a common one.  It meant: “don’t ask.”  She got the hint – and suspected that he was thinking the same thing.

Too big.

Wasn’t it typical?  Of course, Zeus had to have the biggest temple.  It made sense really, he was the chief of the gods, first of the Olympians.  But obviously the priests and councillors had got a bit overexcited and decided to build a temple so big that it was impossible to finish. They had been building it for 300 years already.

Delphi decided that she preferred the smaller ones.  There was one to Apollo next door, which was more modest and finished.  That was more her.

What was the point of reaching for the skies if you were never going to get there?

Olympieion Temple of Zeus: Fact box

  • Religion was one of the major reasons Athens became so spectacular.  The Greeks believed that without proper respect and worship the gods would become angry and send them misfortune, plagues or failure in harvests or battles.  The huge temples and statues were seen as the best way of keeping the gods happy!


  • Zeus was the leader of the Olympians – the major Greek gods.  There are loads of amazing stories about him.  He became chief of the gods when he took over from his father, who had eaten all his brothers and sisters.  Zeus saved them by forcing him to throw them all up again (yuck!).


  • Zeus was also known as the thunder god, and when the Greeks saw lightning, they thought that was because Zeus was angry!  He could also be overly friendly as well.  Although he was married to Hera, he made a habit of running off and having children with a huge number of other women.  This is often the start of many Greek myths, as Hera was not always very happy with Zeus and his children!

  • You can find out more about the other Greek gods by visiting the Parthenon on the Acropolis, or by finding them hiding around the city!.

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