The Olympic Flame Lighting Ceremony – From Olympia to the World

Once every four years – though for the winter-minded people it is once every two – Olympia and Ilia become the center of attention, if not the center of the world. 2016 is an Olympic Year and, before the spotlight moves on to Brazil and Rio de Janeiro, the Olympic Flame Lighting Ceremony is going to take place at the site of Ancient Olympia, a sacred place for the Greeks of old and a famous and popular destination for citizens of the world. The location of the site is only a short drive away from Aldemar Resorts’ own Royal Olympian and Olympian Village, via a route that goes through hills and forests and quaint little villages.

olympic torch lighting

Actress Ino Menegaki (right), in the role of the High Priestess, lights the torch of the Olympic Flame during the Lighting Ceremony in Ancient Olympia © EPA

On the twenty-first of April 2016, eleven women dressed in ancient attire, representing the priestesses of Hestia, will perform at the Temple of Hera the ceremony to light the Olympic Flame. It will then be carried all over the world and end up at a different temple, for football this time, the Maracana, that will also be the Olympic Stadium for the Rio Olympiad. The flame is ignited using the energy of the Greek sun and will not be extinguished until the end of the games.

It wasn’t always like this. While the ancient Olympic Games had an altar alight with fire throughout their duration, the fans of the modern Olympic Games had to wait until 1928 to see the fire burning again, when it was first lit in the Amsterdam Olympics. The Olympic Torch Relay that starts in Olympia and traverses the world – though, admittedly, the route has been extended significantly for the past few Olympiads – was first introduced in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

ancient olympia ruins

View of Ancient Olympia’s stadium CC Image courtesy of John Karakatsanis on Flickr


If someone is interested in how it all started, in how it all still starts, then Olympia is the destination for them. The Royal Olympian and the Olympian Village Aldemar Resorts are at the coast of Ilia, next to sandy beaches and blue waters, while offering easy access to the sacred site of Ancient Olympia. It is a perfect opportunity to witness history and, better yet, to experience it, to live it, as it is one of the most magnificent archaeological sights in Greece and, perhaps, the world. What’s more, it is still in use today with a purpose that closely, yet respectfully, resembles how the ancients would use it.

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