Palestra at Olympia

City: Olympia, Greece

Year of Games: 776 BC

Architect: Unknown

Olympia was the site of and the namesake of the first Olympic games. The origins are shrouded in mystery, but in myth, the dactyl Herakles (different from the Herakles with a club and lion skin) raced his brothers at Olympia, and the winner was crowned with a laurel wreath. The base in mythology leads us to believe that the original games had sacred roots or some ties to worshipping the gods.

Of course, the Palestra has no role in the Games as we know them. However, the structure remains a powerful place and a spiritual home for international athletics.