The Chryselephantine Statue of Zeus was the first of the seven wonders of the ancient world, standing twelve meters high. The figure of Zeus was seated in a throne of gold, ivory, ebony, bronze and precious stones, decorated with mythological scenes. In one hand, he held a Nike, in the other, a sceptre topped with an eagle. His wooden frame was decorated with gold for clothing and ivory for skin. A silver olive wreath was on his brow. His face had a look of calm, gentleness, and serenity.

Legend has it that as a sign of his approval of the statue, Zeus sent a lightning bolt into the temple which damaged nothing. A bronze hydria was built on the spot where the lightning hit. Another legend tells of how the emperor Caligula desired to steal the statue to Rome and replace its head with a likeness of his own. However, his efforts failed when his men refused to do the deed and fled, because the statue roared with menacing laughter when they entered the sanctuary. The statue was successfully plundered in 395 AD and taken to Constantinople, where it remained until its destruction in the fire of 475 AD.

Temple of Zeus, mosaic in vestibule Temple of Zeus south colonnade Temple of Zeus interior