Elida & History

Elis - Grand Elis Hotel


Savalia is a village in the prefecture of Elia in the Peloponnese and belongs to the municipality of Elida.

Elida or Elis was a city-state of ancient Elia in the Peloponnese, built, according to Pausanias (23-26), on the left bank of the Pineos river, before leaving the mountainous hinterland, and flowing past the gymnasium. Strabo (337) mentions that it flows from the Pineos: "the Pineos river flows through the city despite the gymnasium".

It was called Koili Elis from the shape of the terrain. The name Elis is etymologically derived from the Doric Falis (Alice) derived from the formula ualnis - uallis, i.e. hollow country.
Elis was inhabited since prehistoric times, it was located next to ancient Olympia and in the Mycenaean era it became an independent kingdom, one of the most important cities in the whole of Elia. Its inhabitants were called Epios and it participated in the Trojan War with Polyxenos as its leader.

According to mythology, it was founded by Aethlios, who was also the first king of Elis, son of Zeus and Protogenia, the daughter of Deucalion and the sister of Hellenus.
Oxylus came from Aetolia and united the polities he found in the region into a single city. He was also considered to have founded the Olympic Games and annexed Olympia to his state.
Olympic Games - Herea - Grand Elis Hotel

Olympic Games - Herea

In the Western Peloponnese, in the so-called valley of the gods, flourished the most glorified sanctuary of ancient Greece and the birthplace of the most important sporting events, the Ancient Olympia.

Elida, as the organizer - city-state - of the Panhellenic Games "the Olympics", had the supervision of more than 1,200 years, from 776 BC. to 393 AD The population of the city, during the historical era, exceeded 60,000 inhabitants. It had three gymnasiums (Xystos, Maltho, within this gymnasium there was also the Vouleuterion - the Lalichmio - named after the donor). The third Gymnasium was the Palestra, for the training of wrestlers and because of its shape it was called Square.

The athletes were obliged to come a month earlier in order to train, learn the regulations and to separate the athletes by sport, age and category.
Typical sights of Ancient Elis - Grand Elis Hotel

Typical sights of Ancient Elis

•The ancient theater had no bleachers but the spectators watched the performances from the slopes sitting on the ground.

•The palaestra, inside it were also the statues of the athletes Polyktor and Sosandros.

Outside the gymnasiums towards the market there was the Hellanodikaionas (Greek Court), the meridian gallery of the Greek judges and the gallery of the Corfu people. There was also a market, public baths as well as the building where the sixteen women wove the veil of the goddess Hera for the celebration of the "Herea".

The Herea were Women's Games that were also held every four years, between the Olympic Games, in commemoration of the peaceful role played by the sixteen elected women, coming from the same number of cities of Ilia that were inhabited at the time. According to G. Zora, Cleitagora (one of the sixteen women from Andreida), was also a high priestess during the celebration of the Olympics. Three Olympics. She is the first one who, handing over the torch to an athlete, first said the exhortation phrase "Tin ella, Oh Kalliniki!" which means "Go around the world with this, great winner."

Equestrian Games
At the time of Homer, in Elis, equestrian competitions were held with a prize of a tripod.

Ancient Elis & Olympic Games - Historical Evidence - Grand Elis Hotel
Ancient Elis & Olympic Games - Historical Evidence
Pausanias' view of the history of Elis mentions Aethlios, the son of Zeus and the daughter of Deucalion, as the first king of the region. The son of Aethlios, King Endymion, left his kingdom to his son Epios, the winner of a race he had announced among his three sons for the succession. Then the son of Epios reigned, Εlios, from whom the country was named Εlis and the inhabitants Εlioi. Augeas, was the son of Εlios, who was known for his confrontation with Herakles. Then reigned the Homeric heroes Agasthenes, Amphimachus, Thalpius, Dioris and Polyxenos, and then Polyxenus' son Amphimachus and Amphimachus' son Helios, under whom the Dorians entered the Peloponnese.

From the excavations of the Austrian Institute in the years 1910-1914 and from those carried out by Nikolaos Gialouris in 1960, it appears that Elida was inhabited since the Proto-Hellenic era. The city was located at the top of the acropolis and extended northwest towards Pinios river, in the area where the theater was built later in the 4th century. During the Mycynaean times, it was one of the five most important cities of the Epiean kingdom, with a notable participation in the Trojan War.

The first organization of Elis into a city-state probably took place shortly after the descent of the Dorians, who handed over Elis to Aetolos Oxylus as a reward for his help in entering the Peloponnese. He founded the first settlement in Elida. Then and around the 11th century, the city spread into the valley of Pinios and then subjugated Akroria and the western part of Pisa with the sanctuary of Olympia. According to Strabo, the Olympic Games are an invention of Elis who held the first Olympics. Since then, Elida has been a political and religious center of the region and has prospered. It maintains neutrality in the disputes of the Greek cities. It is declared "sacred" and establishes the "truce".
From Olympic Glory to Decline and Destruction - Grand Elis Hotel
From Olympic Glory to Decline and Destruction
Then the Olympic Games are reorganized in their known form by Iphitos, a descendant of Oxylos with a conventional date of the first Olympiad in 776 BC. and the first Olympic medalist Elios Korivos. One hundred years later, Pisa regains its independence and undertakes the organization and conduct of the Olympic Games with the help of Argios Phiedonas. But a century later, Elis, with the help of Sparta, regains Pisa and the sanctuary of Olympia once and for all. The life of the country is directed by Elida, while in the municipality, officials are elected from all its free citizens.

The abandonment of its neutrality and its participation in the Peloponnesian war, was paid dearly with invasions, looting and reductions of its territories. In 191 BC, Elida joins the Achaean commonwealth and thus, its independence ends. It does not take part in the struggles of the Greek cities against the Romans, since the then ruling party in Elia was pro-Roman. As part of the Roman Province from 146 BC. continues to grow mainly from its intensifying agro-textile activity.

In 267 AD it is plundered by the Goths, while in the Byzantine years it suffers, with the exception of the time of Julian who exempts it from taxation. In 393 AD Theodosius I prohibits the holding of the Olympic Games. In 395 AD is plundered by Alarichos while in 425 AD Theodosius II orders the destruction of all monuments of Ancient Greek culture. In 467 AD plundered by the Vandals, while in 522 AD the destruction of Elis is completed by a great earthquake. Decline has come, while the last pebble of destruction and impoverishment is placed by Frank adventurers, who after 1204 AD. they build a castle on the acropolis of Elis with materials from the classical and Hellenistic eras.
Economic & Social Life - Grand Elis Hotel
Economic & Social Life
The geographical position of Elis and the shape of its terrain decisively influenced the economic and social life of the city-state. The mild climate and the fertile soil watered by two rivers, Pineos and Alpheios, contributed to the development of agriculture and animal husbandry. The most important agricultural products were silk (a type of silk), flax, cereals, wine, oil, fruit and various medicinals.

The inhabitants of Εlida are still engaged in metallurgy, goldsmithing, pottery, glassmaking, and shipbuilding. Samples of the products of these professions can be found in many archaeological finds in the area, such as weapons, gold jewelry, copper utensils, and ceramics with a particular style. Particularly well known were the "solar" lekythos and the famous pointed amphorae.

Even the profession of cook was one of the most prestigious. The cooking of Elia was considered the most valuable among all the cities of Ancient Greece. At this point, it is worth remembering that the first Olympian winner, Elios Korivos, was a cook.

Elida was famous in minting. Especially in the 5th and 4th centuries BC. They minted silver staters, trioboles, drachmas and oboles. The coin shows were distinguished by the variety of subjects. Deities such as Zeus, the eagle, the snake, the hare, the thunderbolt and Nike were among the most popular subjects.
A Triumph of Athleticism and Gender Equality - Grand Elis Hotel
A Triumph of Athleticism and Gender Equality
The organization of the Olympic Games was a difficult task, as it had to deal with a multitude of issues concerning the athletes, the movement and accommodation of many thousands of city representatives, as well as the preparation of the competition venues and the sanctuary of Olympia. With the truce , the entry of anyone armed into the territory of Elis was forbidden and the city itself was transformed into a huge reception area for athletes and their companions. In the last month before the start of the Olympic Games, the athletes spent it in the old gymnasium of Elida where, under the strict supervision of the Greek judges, they were taught the rules of fair competition. It is even said that a kind of qualifying Games were held in Elis so that only the best could go to Olympia.

Through the Olympic, athletic competition, the peaceful emergence of the fittest, fastest and strongest man was possible. The victory in the arena of Olympia constituted the irrefutable proof and guarantee of the value of a mortal, who became the chosen one of Zeus and knew the honors of a hero.

When this preliminary stage was completed, Greek Judges and athletes took the Sacred Way that led to Olympia. This road was 57,500 meters long and passed through the areas of today's Amaliada, Myrtia and Prophet Εlias, proceeded towards Skourochori and, passing outside Pyrgos, followed the left bank of Alpheios and reached Olympia.

Unlike the city-state of Athens, the position of women in Elis was very important. It is said that the women participated in the historical reconciliation of Elia - Pisai. They later entrusted the organization of the Heraia, which were pan-Hellenic women's competitions in honor of goddess Hera and which took place every four years in Olympia. The presence of men was prohibited in these matches.
Education & Arts - Grand Elis Hotel
Education & Arts
The contribution of Elis to philosophy was important, with the main representatives being the founder of skepticism Pyrrho, the student of Socrates, Phaedo, the sophist and specialist in aesthetics Hippias, the philosopher of the Megarian School, Alexinus and the student of Plato, Phormion.

The fact that Elis was scattered with statues leads us to the conclusion that sculpture was highly developed. Among the most important sculptors, Kolotis, a collaborator of Pheidias and maker of the chryselephantine statue of Athena on the acropolis of Elis, Livon, architect of the temple of Zeus in Olympia, and Kallon, known throughout Greece at the time, stand out.

The main buildings of Ancient Elis were:
•The Gymnasium, where the athletes trained before going to Olympia
•The Road of Silence that connected the baths with the Gymnasium and passed near the sanctuary of Artemis Philomeirakas
•The Agora and the Hellenic Court which was the seat of the Greek Judges
•The monument of Pyrrhon
•The Sanctuary of Hades
•The shrine of Fortune
•The Theatre, where the spectators were seated facing Pineos. It was probably destroyed in 267 AD.
•The Sanctuary of Dionysus
•The Sanctuary of Athena on the acropolis with the chryselephantine statue
Cultural events today - Grand Elis Hotel
Cultural events today
The exploitation of Elida is a necessity of national importance. In addition to the economic development it can bring to the region, the visitor could perfectly combine his visit to both the venue of the Olympic Games and the place where they were held, thus gaining a complete picture of the reality at the time.

The Festival of Ancient Elis is the cultural event par excellence of the Western Peloponnese with a wide response. The dead theater of Ancient Elis comes back to life every year to remind that the Olympic ideal once shone in this place and that the cultural superiority of the inhabitants of this city has left strong marks.
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