Hellenistic period


The late 4th century BC saw the erection of the Philippeion. Around 300 BC the largest building on the site, the Leonidaion, was constructed to house important visitors. Due to the increasing importance of the games, further athletic buildings were constructed including the Palaestra (3rd century BC), Gymnasion (2nd century BC) and bath houses (c.300 BC). Finally, in 200 BC, a vaulted archway was erected linking the entrance of the stadium to the sanctuary.[5] The Philippeion in the Altis of Olympia was an Ionic circular memorial of ivory and gold, which contained statues of Philip's family, Alexander the Great, Olympias, Amyntas III and Eurydice I. It was made by the Athenian sculptor Leochares in celebration of Philip's victory at the battle of Chaeronea (338 BC). It was the only structure inside the Altis dedicated to a human. The palaestra (?) was the ancient Greek wrestling school. The events that did not require a lot of space, such as boxing and wrestling, were practised there. The palaestra functioned both independently and as a part of public gymnasia; a palaestra could exist without a gymnasium, but no gymnasium could exist without a palaestra. [edit]Architecture of the palaestra The architecture of the palaestra, although allowing for some variation, followed a distinct, standard plan. The palaestra essentially consisted of a rectangular court surrounded by colonnades with adjoining rooms. These rooms might house a variety of fu

ctions: bathing, ball playing, undressing and storage of clothes, seating for socializing, observation, or instruction, and storage of oil, dust or athletic equipment. Vitruvius, through his text On Architecture, is an important ancient source about this building type and provides many details about what he calls “palaestra, Greek-style”. Although the specifics of his descriptions do not always correspond to the architectural evidence, probably because he was writing around 27 BC , his account provides insight into the general design and uses of this type of space. As Vitruvius describes, the palaestra was square or rectangular in shape with colonnades along all four sides creating porticoes. The portico on the northern side of the palaestra was of double depth to protect against the weather. Big halls (exedrae) were built along the single depth sides of the palaestra with seats for those enjoying intellectual pursuits, and the double depth side was divided into an area for youth activities (ephebeum), a punching bag area (coryceum), a room for applying powders (conisterium), a room for cold bathing, and an oil storeroom (elaeothesium). Good examples of this building type come from two major Greek sites: Olympia and Delphi. During the Roman Imperial period the palaestra was often combined with, or joined to, a bath. When the Arabs and the Turkish adopted the tradition of the Roman baths, they did not continue the tradition of the attached palaestra.