14. Olympia • Greece
We have selected 100 unique places on Earth that are projected to undergo profound changes within the next few generations. We based our selection of the 100 places on the 4th Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Simply by drawing attention to the beauty of these places, 100 Places to Remember Before they Disappear creates an argument to preserve them. The 100 Places we have chosen to highlight, and the people who live in them, are in serious danger because of rising sea levels, rising temperatures and extreme weather events triggered by climate change. Among ambassadors are Joss Stone, Desmund Tutu for more info visit http://www.100places.com. A Place Where Gods and Athletes Meet The ruins of impressive temples scatter the Greek landscape, evidence of the pre-eminence of Ancient Greece. On the Peloponnese Peninsula in the south of the country lies the valley of Olympia, a haven for religious buildings and athletic facilities, and the site of the original Olympic Games. The earliest evidence of building on the site is the Temple of Hera, honouring the wife of Zeus, which dates to around 600 BC. The golden age of Olympia was during the 5th and 4th centuries BC, when the impressive Temple of Zeus was built. The base and columns of both temples, which now lie in the shade of olive, pine and poplar trees, have been restored along with Olympias ancient baths and stadiums. The first Olympic Games are believed to have been held here in 776 BC. The Games were dedicated to the gods, and athletes were immortalised for their ability to move the crowds with their great sporting deeds. The Games continued for nearly 12 centuries until the Christian emperor Theodosius I decreed that all such pagan cults be banned in 393 AD. The Olympic Torch is still lit at the Temple of Hera before being relayed to the host city for the modern version of the Olympic Games. In recent years, extremely warm and dry summers have increased the number of wildfires in Greece. The damage was particularly bad in 2007, when three prolonged heatwaves caused devastating fires that destroyed forests and agricultural land, razed villages and killed 64 people. The area surrounding Olympia was severely damaged in 2007 but, for the time being, the archaeological site itself remains intact. With temperatures projected to rise and rainfall projected to decline, global climate change raises the spectre of an increase in the frequency and ferocity of wildfires. The question is: how much longer will one of the most important cultural heritage sites in the Western World remain standing?