Population: 193.228 (2001)
Distance from Athens: 305 km.
Main areas are: Amaliada, Lechena, (Ancient) Olympia, Pyrgos, Zacharo.
According to Pausanias, the first king of the region was Aethlios, who was succeeded by his son Endynion and grandson Epeios. The later gave his name to the inhabitants, who were called Epeians. When Epeios' nephew Eleios inherited the throne, the name of the district was changed to Eleia and the inhabitants Eleians, and that is what they have been called ever since.
Important landmarks of the prefecture are the lakes of Kaiafa, Agoulinitsa and Mouria (the last two have been drained). Also, important is the ecosystem of the lagoon of Kotychi. There is a plethora of medicinal springs with most important those of Kyllini, Kayafa, Frasinia, Xylokera, Pournari etc.
The wonderful coastline landscape, is strewn with beautiful beaches. Most important and most beautiful is the Kayafa beach, while to the north there are the beaches of Arkoudi, Glyfa, Bouka and Manolada.In general, the natural environment of the prefecture is characterized by a rich diversity of flora and fauna, pine tree forests and cypress trees in the sub-mountainous areas and the plains, while little picturesque villages are scattered all over the prefecture.
Pyrgos is the capital of the prefecture of Ilia. The town owes its name to the presence of a tall tower (pirgos) erected by Ioannis Tsernotas. It was known by this name as early as 1687.Its chief landmarks are the two exquisite neoclassical buildings designed by Schiller, the municipal market and the Apollo Municipal theatre.
In the evenings the residents of this little town congregate in the flagstone paved main square lined by cafes and pastry shops. In the narrow alleyways, small taverns and grills serve up local delicacies, savour tidbits from Ilia's fertile soil.
The greatest city of the province is Amaliada but comes second in population. In 1924 the city numbered 10490 residents. Some of Amaliada's beaches are: Kourouta, Palouki, Savalia, Douneika. The monastery of Panagia in Frangavilla was built in the 11 th century.
Zaharo is a market town enveloped in pines and olive trees bordered by an enormous stretch of beach with white sand and sparking water. The beach of Zaharo is one of the longest in Europe, with more than 60km of white sand.
Zacharo is 320 km far from Athens and around 1 hour from the port of Patras. Ancient Olympia is only a 30 minute ride from Zacharo and Epicures Apollo in Vasses an hour away. Heading north, in a very short distance, you come to Kaiafas, a well known spa, and the islet of Agia Ekaterini, in the middle of a small harbour.
On the eastern shore, the famous mineral waters gush from two caves formed by crevices in the rocks. The larger one is called the cave of the Anigrides, the smaller the Geranion grotto, dwelling places of nymphs since antiquity. The place is strangely beautiful, delightful, though the outdoor of the springs does detract somewhat. It' s hard indeed to draw yourself away such a sea.
One of the most important sanctuaries of antiquity, dedicated to the father of the gods Olympian Zeus. Olympia is the birth-place of the Olympic Games and also where they were held. During the games there was a truce in all regions of Greece for one month in order for everybody to be able to participate in the games. The first Olympic Games were held in 776 B.C.
The area, of great natural beauty, has been inhabited uninterruptedly since the 3rd millenium B.C. and in the late Mycenaean period it became a religious centre.
The excavations at Olympia were begun in May 1829, two years after the battle of Navarino, by French archaeologists. The finds (metopes from the opisthodomus and parts of the metopes from the pronaos of the Temple of Zeus ) were transferred to the Louvre where they are still being exhibited. When the Greek government was informed of the looting of artifacts, the excavation was stopped.
Excavations started again 45 years later by German archaeologists. The research is being continued to this day by the German Institute of Archaeology in Athens, and the Ephorate of Antiquities in Olympia.
The sanctuary of Olympia spreads around the green wooded feet of the Kronion hill, where the rivers Alpheios and Cladeos meet. The valley amongst the two rivers was in ancient times full of wild olive trees, poplars, oaks, pines and plane trees and it was these trees that gave the centre of the sanctuary the name Altis, meaning alsos (grove).
The Altis is the name given to the area in Olympia that comprises the main religious buildings, temples and votive offerings of the sanctuary. Out of the enclosure were the auxiliary buildings, priests' houses, baths, the areas for the preparation of the athletes, guest houses along with other buildings.
In Olympia there is the museum of Olympic games, the museum of Olympia and the new archaeological museum. The visitor can admire findings from the sites of the games.
How you can get there
By bus: Intercity buses run daily from Athens to Pyrgos and Amaliada.
By car: In order to go to Ilia by car
From Athens the distance is 313 km
From Thessaloniki the distance is 559 km
From Patra the distance is 97 km
From Korinthos the distance is 231 km
From Ioannina the distance is 345 km
By train: There are time-tables from Athens to Pyrgos.
Coastally: There are daily time-tables from Kyllini to Zakynthos and Kefalonia.
Pyrgos Bus Station 26210 22592 Athens Bus Station 210 5250242, 210 5250220 Pyrgos Railway Station 26210 22576 Athens Railway Station 210 5131601 Ancient Olympia Police Station26240 22100 Ancient Olympia Tourist Police26240 22550
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