Made possible and created by the Athens Macedonian News Agency, working with a team of Greek archeologists, the new tool of discovery lets users travel back to the days when the Olympic Games were first played when athletes made obeisances to the gods and when winners were crowned with laurel wreaths to the acclaim of thousands of spectators.
Created at no cost for the Greek state, the app was developed as part of Microsoft’s “AI for Good” Corporate Social Responsibility program.
Not only can users explore ancient Olympia, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the fifth-most visited area in Greece in pre-Covid times, they can also contribute to the platform by adding their own personal content, communicate with other virtual visitors, and even network with others from all around the world.
Now, completely personalized tours of Olympia’s archaeological sites allow all virtual visitors to take control of their journey throughout Ancient Olympia and its environs, spending as much time as they wish at each individual monument, learning about each area.
The creators state that they hope the platform will not only educate the public about the significance of the Olympian sites, monuments, and sculptures but also promote the cultural resources of the greater Katakolo – Ancient Olympia area, which has become a major tourist attraction over the last decade.
The Athenian-Macedonian News Agency announced at the launching of the virtual tour that “this new platform will be a modern way of highlighting archaeological sites, cultural wealth, tourist infrastructure and attractions, through an integrated system with a specially-designed interface environment.”
The new tool is meant to not be just another passive educational platform but to allow users to actively participate in various activities around the ancient site.
“The digital content that will be offered will have a historical sequence and thematic correlation, depicting the historical development of the ancient city and allowing visitors to explore Olympia on their own” AMNA stated at its launching.
Armchair travelers can, among other things, take a tour of ancient Olympia’s archaeological sites and choose different routes among the temples, stadiums, and other buildings,
stopping at various points of interest to take a closer look at the monuments that are of special interest to them.
All users can also access photos, texts, videos, audio documents, maps, and many more resources which will enable them to feel as if they are actually there — and are on a personalized tour of the ancient site.
In addition, they can browse events that happened in Ancient Olympia as well as modern-day events that are held in honor of the Olympic Games. Since the site is also the center of many other areas of great cultural interest, users may also want to take advantage of
some of the platform’s advanced multimedia applications to find out more about them.
Interactive maps are also part of the experience, with suggested routes and detailed presentations of each important monument or area of interest.
In an unusual twist, an electronic calendar service in the app will show all the important annual dates relating to Ancient Olympia, including all sporting events, which will enable users to virtually travel back in time.
“This is an extraordinary chance for all people, who have a love for the Greek culture and history or are eager to learn more about it,” AMNA stated. “People who did not get to travel over the summer will now feel like tourists in this magnificent ancient city,” the press agency added.
The project was the subject of discussions between Microsoft President Brad Smith and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis last Spring. During his trip to the country, Smith took an extended tour of the site of ancient Olympia, saying at the time that he was “impressed and honored” to be able to visit the place where the Olympics first came into being.
The new app may be downloaded to your device at the Microsoft App Store.