The Temple of Olympian Zeus stands at the foot of the Acropolis, its 14 surviving columns towering a huge 55.5 feet (17 meters) high. It was the largest temple in Ancient Greece, but its story is long and complicated. Building began around 550 BCE on the site of another ancient sanctuary dedicated to the Greek god Zeus but stopped when Hippias, son of the Athenian tyrant Peisistratos, was expelled in 510 BCE. The story goes that the Athenians decided not to complete the temple as a building of that scale was hubristic, an offense against the gods. That didn’t worry Antiochus IV, who believed he was an avatar of Zeus and ordered the work to restart. He changed the design so that it reached the scale of the ruins we can see today, but construction stopped again when the temple was only half-finished. After the rise of the Roman Empire, Emperor Hadrian visited Athens and authorized a building project that included the completion of the Temple of Zeus. It was completed and dedicated to the god by Hadrian in 132 CE, and contained a huge statue of Zeus made of gold and ivory. Unfortunately, the finished temple didn’t survive for long - it was badly damaged in 267 when the Herules sacked the city and in 425 the worship of Greek and Roman gods was banned by Theodosius II, a Christian emperor. Material was taken from the temple to be used in other buildings, including a Christian basilica, and by 1436 only 21 of the original columns were still standing. The temple was first properly excavated in 1889 by Francis Penrose and today it is protected by the Greek government.