House of the magistrates

The house of the magistrates was the administrative center of any Greek city, comparable to the modern city-hall. As most official business for the precinct Olympia happened in the nearby city of Elis, the building had mainly a symbolic function at Olympia.

P186The house of the magistrates was built around 470 BC. The groundplan was probably square, with sides of 32 m. There are not enough remains for a reconstruction, but they did find many remnants of cups and plates, which were used here for the great banquet to which the victors were invited on the last day of the festival.
In the building, there was the sacred hearth. This was the altar of Hestia, on which a fire was continually burning. From this hearth, all other altars at Olympia received their fire. Also in the modern Olympics great importance is attached to the Olympic flame, which is distributed over the whole world and burns continuously during the games. In ancient Olympia it was, however, not customary to light the flame at the beginning of each games during a solemn ceremony.

© KU Leuven, 2012