The Temple of Olympian Zeus or Olympieion is a major temple in central Athens. Although construction began in the 6th century BC, although not completed on the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD. It was the largest temple in Greece during the Hellenistic and Roman times.
The temple is located southeast of the Acropolis, and approximately 700 meters from the center of Athens. The foundation of the first temple in the area, was built by the tyrant Pisistratus in 515 BC but the work was abandoned when Pisistratus's son, Hippias was ostracized in 510 BC.
During the Athenian democracy, the temple was left unfinished, apparently because the Greeks of the classical period thought it hubristic to build on such a scale. In his “Politics”, Aristotle cited the temple as an example of how tyrannical regimes are forcing people to deal with huge projects, leaving their time, energy and responses.
The work was in the 3rd century BC during Makedonikis domination in Greece under the auspices of the Hellenistic king Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who entered the Roman Cossutius architect to design the largest temple in the known world. When Antiochus died in 164 BC, the construction of the temple stopped again.
In 86 BC after Greek cities were brought under Roman rule, the general Sylla took two columns from the unfinished temple to Rome to decorate the temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill. These columns have influenced the spread of the Corinthian style in Rome.
The 2nd century BC the temple was completed in 129 AD (Or 131 AD according to others) finished by the Emperor Hadrian was a great admirer of Greek culture.
The temple was built by marble from Penteli (mountain approximate to Athens) and was 96 feet long on the sides and 40 meters in the eastern and western facade. He had 104 Corinthian columns, each 17 meters high, 2.6 meters in diameter and weighs 364 tonnes. 48 columns stood in triple rows under the pediments and 56 in double rows at the edges. Only 15 of these columns remain standing today. A gale threw a column in 1852, located in the same spot.
Hadrian dedicated the temple to Zeus. Also erected a huge gold and ivory statue of Zeus in the center of the temple. The pediments were decorated with many statues, but also to the whole temple there were statues and busts of famous men. The Athenians, to show their gratitude to Hadrian built his statue behind the temple. Unfortunately none of the sculptures that adorned the temple has survived. It is not known exactly when the temple was destroyed, but assumed that like other large buildings in Greece, probably destroyed by an earthquake during the mediaeval period and the ruins were used to construct other buildings.