Ileia is famous now for the same reason it has always been famous: it is the home of the ancient athletic contests at Olympia. One of the most important archaeological sites in Greece – on a level with the Athenian Acropolis and the Delphic Oracle – the site of Olympia and its recently renovated archaeological museum attract many visitors. But Ileia is more than just Olympia. In fact, it is home to another of the most important archaeological sites in the Peloponnese: at the beautiful spot of Vasses in the mountains you will find the Temple of Apollo Epikourios. The spectacularly well-preserved and yet endangered temple at Vasses is kept under an enormous white tent to protect it while it is being restored. The temple appears to be in good condition but is actually sitting on very volatile ground. The tent is a temporary solution, so be sure to come back in a few decades to see it without the tent!
The temple is only 14 km from the beautiful town of Andritsaina, where you can find a hotel and good food. The town is very picturesque, like its neighboring towns Karytaina (crowned by a beautiful castle) and Krestena. A full day in the region should be spent exploring these towns. , a well-preserved but endangered temple which is kept under a large white tent to protect it while restoration is carried out. Beautiful mountain villages and serene agricultural areas make for pleasant drives away from the crowds of Olympia.
The prefecture of Elia is one of the major farming districts of the region. Lake Pinios , provides water to the surrounding area, and is the largest man made lake in the Peloponnese .
Capital of the province Eleia is an agricultural and trading centre known for its neoclassical buildings. During the evening the locals stroll to the main square, to sit in the cafes, tavernas which line the square to take a drink or two and exchange gossip.
Lying between the rivers Alphios and Kladeos, stands ancient Olympia . Legend has it that the games started in 1000 BC, and were dedicated to Hippodameia, the daughter of King Oinomaus on her marriage to Pelops. In 776 BC the games were rededicated to Zeus. This date marks the first Olympiad, and afterwards the games were held every four years, athletes came from all the Greek city-states to compete. The games at the time held not only athletic games but artistic and literary competitions These games were stopped in 393AD, and it was not until the 1896, that the Frenchman Pier de Coubertin revived the games in Olympia, and since then every four years a torch bearer sets out from Olympia, carrying the flame around the world to where the games are to be held.
There are many archaeological sites around Olympia from these earlier games; standing in the shade near Nero’s house is the monument containing the heart of Pier de Coubetin, the founder of the Modern Olympics. The Archaeological Museum of Olympia has many fine exhibits; nearby in the modern village of Olympia lies the Museum of the Olympic Games, it has exhibits connected to the history of the Olympic Games.
Andritsena: this small village with its tavernas and shops is so relaxed that modern life has hardly touched it. The market in morning, and the locals sitting outside one of the cafes, drinking coffee and playing backgammon, reinforces this impression. The small museum has on display of local crafts and costumes.
The Temple of Vasses : situated at a height of 1200m is one of Greece ’s most remote temples, the drive up here is breathtaking. The temple built in 420 BC in honour of Apollo Epicuras (the Helper), by the residents of the nearby village of Figalia , when they were spared the ravages of the plague. The temple is undergoing a much-needed restoration and for the time being it covered by a huge tent to prevent further deterioration by the elements.