Colorado Springs Sister City
"Engaging the world through our
Sister City relationships"

Welcome to Colorado Springs Sister Cities International

  "Engaging our sister cities to advance world peace, friendship, cultural understanding, and mutual economic reward."


It is with great pleasure that we welcome you to Colorado Springs Sister Cities International.  Join with us as we shape important internationally-connected relationships around the globe. CSSCI engages in crucial summits and activities to discuss cultural understanding, economic alliances, common challenges, and blueprints for creating trailblazing municipal partnerships.  



To be the vanguard of Colorado Springs' international affairs through exceptional global cooperation. 


Our Sister Cities


Site of the Ancient Olympic Games

Sister City since 2014


Home to residents from across 160 countries

Sister City since 1999


A friend and partner to the USA since 1991

Sister City since 1994


A UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, Sister City since 1962


Host of the 2009 World Games

Sister City since 1983


A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Sister City since 1996


The site of Napoleanic and WWII battles

Sister City since 1993

Please support our official partners





Join Us For These Upcoming Special Events 











Our Mission


To engage our sister cities to advance world peace, friendship, cultural understanding, and mutual

economic reward.



To be the vanguard of Colorado Springs' international affairs through exceptional global cooperation.


Colorado Springs Sister Cities International (CSSCI) is a group of dedicated individuals whose mission is to promote cultural, educational, humanitarian and economic relationships with cities throughout the world. Relationships and exchanges are made by formal agreement with selected global partners at the municipal government level.
CSSCI is recognized by Sister Cities International (SCI), a citizen diplomacy network creating and strengthening partnerships between U.S. and international communities to increase global cooperation at the local level. The Sister City approach to international exchanges centers on citizen-to-citizen diplomacy. Sister Cities International was founded in 1956 by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower. It remains renowned worldwide as a distinguished people-to-people program that fosters international understanding. SCI works to promote cultural understanding, social development and economic growth, and as a national membership organization officially certifies links between U.S. communities and those abroad to ensure their sustained commitment and success in this mission. The SCI network represents more than 2,100 communities in 121 countries around the world and is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.


Areas of Focus


Cultural exchanges provide the foundation for the majority of sister city relationships, bridging differences between nations through city-to-city partnerships and educating on a local level. These exchanges take many different forms, from elementary school pen pal project to tours by internationally-renowned artists. Musical performances, art exhibits, construction of peace parks or tea gardens, international cultural festivals, and teacher exchanges are popular throughout the sister city network.


To support local youth initiatives, CSSCI dedicates itself to promoting opportunities for youth exchanges, creating lasting friendships and cultural awareness from a young age. CSSCI provides project ideas, exchange programs, youth conferences, and mentoring opportunities to engage local young people in its dynamic international network.


International exchanges boost local industry and development, build avenues for trade and company expansion, and develop personal relationships that open doors for private sector investment. Economic development events and activities can include: visitors, local vendors at cultural events, on-going operations and maintenance of cultural attractions, international students, and company expansions.


Our Sister Cities

What is a Sister City?

A sister city, county, or state relationship is a broad-based, long-term partnership between two communities in two countries. A sister city, county, or state relationship is officially recognized after the highest elected or appointed official from both communities sign off on an agreement.  A city may have any number of sister cities, with community involvement ranging from a half dozen to hundreds of volunteers. In addition to volunteers, sister city organizations may include representatives from nonprofits, municipal governments, the private sector, and other civic organizations.  Sister city relationships offer the flexibility to form connections between communities that are mutually beneficial and which address issues that are most relevant for partners.


ANCIENT OLYMPIA, GREECE:  Olympia, a sanctuary of ancient Greece in Elis, is known for having been the site of the Olympic Games in classical times, the most famous games in history.  The Olympic Games were held every four years throughout Classical Antiquity, from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. The first Olympic Games were in honor of Zeus.The Olympic flame of the modern-day Olympic Games is lit by reflection of sunlight in a parabolic mirror in front of the Temple of Hera and then transported by a torch to the place where the games are held. When the modern Olympics came to Athens in 2004, the men's and women's shot put competition was held at the restored Olympia stadium.  


BANKSTOWN, AUSTRALIA:  Bankstown is a suburb of south-western Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Bankstown is located 20 kilometres south-west of the Sydney central business district and is the administrative centre of the local government area of the City of Bankstown.  Bankstown is the seat of major industry including the aviation, engineering and maintenance at Bankstown Airport. Other employers include small industrial operations, the public service and the retail industry.


BISHKEK, KYRGYZSTAN:  Bishkek is the capital and the largest city of Kyrgyz Republic or Kyrgyzstan. Bishkek is situated at about 2,600 ft altitude just off the northern fringe of the Kyrgyz Ala-Too range, an extension of the Tian Shan mountain range, which provides a spectacular backdrop to the city. Bishkek is a city of wide boulevards and marble-faced public buildings combined with numerous Soviet-style apartment blocks surrounding interior courtyards and, especially outside the city centre, thousands of smaller privately built houses.


FUJIYOSHIDA, JAPAN: Fujiyoshida lies at the base of Mount Fuji, and is built upon old lava flows. It is considered a high-elevation city in Japan, at 2,140 to 2,800 feet above sea level. The city is also located between two of the Fuji Five Lakes.For several centuries, artisans around the Fujiyoshida area have produced high quality textiles, and now the city is the center of commerce and high technology in southern Yamanashi Prefecture.


KAOHSIUNG, TAIWAN: Kaohsiung City is one of the five special municipalities under the administration of the Republic of China (Taiwan). Located in southern-western Taiwan and facing the Taiwan Strait, it is by area the largest municipality, and second most populous (by urban area). Since its start at 17th century, Kaohsiung has grown from a small trading village, into the political, economic, transportation, manufacturing, refining, shipbuilding, and industries centers of southern Taiwan.


NUEVO CASAS GRANDES, MEXICO:  Nuevo Casas Grandes, also known as Nueva Casas Grandes, is a city and seat of the Nuevo Casas Grandes Municipality in northern Mexico. The area around Nuevo Casas Grandes is noted for its great historical and archaeological heritage. Five miles southwest of Nuevo Casas Grandes is the most important archaeological site in northern Mexico, the Casas Grandes or Paquim Archaeological Zone highlighted by the new Paquim Museum. Nuevo Casas Grandes is also world famous for the nearby "potter village" of Mata Ortiz an ejido and its revival of pottery in the ancient Paquim tradition.


SMOLENSK, RUSSIASmolensk is a city and the administrative center of Smolensk Oblast, Russia, located on the Dnieper River, 220 miles west-southwest of Moscow. This walled city was destroyed several times throughout its long history because it was on the invasion routes of both Napoleon and Hitler. Today, Smolensk is noted for electronics, textiles, food processing, and diamond faceting. 




For board meetings information, please contact the Secretary of the Board Julie Smith at


More news coming soon.  Check back often.


Follow us on Facebook 































Executive Board of Directors






Stephanie Shakhirev                      

Read Bio







Julie Smith


Read Bio


Harris Kalofonos

Vice President
Read Bio








Alyssa Blakemore


Read Bio




Donna Nelson

City of Colorado Springs Liaison

Read Bio






Dr. Dan Hannaway
Chair Emeritus
Read Bio

Committee Chairs


Ancient Olympia, Greece          Marcia Hendricks             Graeme Badger                Robin Lawrentz                Eva Johnson

Harris Kalofonos                             Bankstown, Australia            Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan           Fujiyoshida, Japan               Kaohsiung, Taiwan



Warren Hill                                   Smolensk, Russia
Nuevo Casas Grandes, Mexico       Stephanie Shakhirev


Image Gallery


Colorado Springs Gazette, July 17, 2014




A recent trip to Ancient Olympia could result in a Colorado Springs teenager taking part in a worldwide event.  A delegation from Colorado Springs traveled to the birthplace of the Olympics last month to further the sister-city relationship between the municipalities. 



Read more online

Colorado Springs Independent, April 25, 2014




Colorado Springs has a new sister city, Ancient Olympia, Greece. City Council approved a resolution today adding Ancient Olympia to the list of six other sister cities the city has.  Recommending the resolution, Mayor Steve Bach said, "Above all else we are a center for sports, health and wellness. I can’t think of a better way to express what that means to us than a sister city relationship with Ancient Olympia, Greece."

 Read more online

Colorado Springs Gazette, April 17, 2014




Colorado Springs' newest sister city, Ancient Olympia, Greece, was welcomed April 8 with a reception at Penrose House, wrapping up a busy visit as officials toured the city, learned local history at the Pioneers Museum, met with U.S. Olympic Committee representatives and had lunch with representatives from Colorado Springs Sister Cities International.  At the reception, Mayor Steve Bach and Greek officials exchanged official gifts.  Read more online


Colorado Springs Independent, June 12, 2014




A delegation from Colorado Springs will visit our newest Sister City, Ancient Olympia from June 15-19 for a Sister City ceremony at the ancient Olympic site and a visit to the International Olympic Academy (IOA) during the annual International Session for Young Participants in the Olympic Movement. The members of the delegation are traveling as invited guests of the City of Ancient Olympia, the IOA and the Greek government.


 Read more online

Denver Post, April 8, 2014




Ancient Olympia has become Colorado Springs' seventh sister city. The ruins near the municipality were the birthplace of the Olympic Games, and Colorado Springs houses the U.S. Olympic Committee.


A ceremony marking the agreement is being signed Tuesday by mayors Steve Bach and Aristideis Panagiotopoulos.


 Read more online















For more information contact CSSCI at:


30 South Nevada Avenue, Suite 606
Colorado Springs, CO 80903



T: (719) 385-5256
F: (719) 385-5245


Or send an email directly to one of our Officers or Committee Chairs


For website questions, contact:




If you would like to become a volunteer member of Colorado Springs Sister Cities International, click here to download the application.  


Thank you!



Membership Information


If you have a passion for international issues, harbor the hope for world peace through diplomatic solutions, and would like to be involved in fun and exciting international and globally-minded events and initiatives, we invite you to explore our flexible membership options. 


*STUDENT MEMBERSHIP (ages 13-24): $15
*FAMILY MEMBERSHIP (2 individuals): $55
*AMBASSADORS CIRCLE: $120 ($10 per month)

Your membership comes with a T-Shirt, a membership card, and a personalized certificate!

Or, submit your electronic application below.



When you become a volunteer at Colorado Springs Sister Cities, you have an unprecented personal reach into global affairs and the opportunity to touch the lives of people around the world.


As a volunteer, you'll play an important and pivotal role in helping us to organize crucial activities and events that encourage international cultural understanding and world peace. Join with Colorado Springs Sister Cities International and become a vanguard of the city's international affairs through exceptional global cooperation.


Fill out the form below and indicate how you would like to volunteer.




Your gift will help CSSCI continue our mission of faciliating important global relationships that can usher in world peace and unity.  Please consider a tax-deductible contribution to our organization. Your generosity for any amount is very much appreciated.


If you would like, a Board Member would be happy to talk with you about our mission, our objectives, and the benefits of supporting CSSCI.


Colorado Springs Sister Cities International is a 501(c)(3) non-profit.




Fill out the form below and indicate how you would like to donate.




Become a Member of Colorado Springs Sister Cities International


Ancient Olympia, Greece

A Welcome from the Colorado Springs - Ancient Olympia Committee Chair, Harris Kalofonos


Harris was initially inspired by his belief that if Colorado Springs residents knew more about the origin and legacy of the Ancient Olympic Games they would be able to clearly comprehend the impact US Olympic hopefuls who live and train in Colorado Springs have on the long term growth of our city. Harris was encouraged by the unexpected decision of the International Olympic Committee to return wrestling as an Olympic event in the 2020 Summer Olympics, and in April, 2014 his idea became a reality when the city of Ancient Olympia, Greece became a sister city of Colorado Springs.  Contact Harris


Read about Harris Kalofonos






A visit in Ancient Olympia is enough to experience the harmony of the setting and feel the vibes realizing that this place was not accidentally named as sacred. The site was considered to be the most prominent and praised sanctuary in ancient Greece, dedicated to Zeus, the father of the Olympian gods and Olympia became the most important religious centre in Greece. The area became the most significant athletic centre, 
as well, since it is the birthplace of the Olympic Games, the most prestigious athletic event in the world. The ancient Olympics were held every four years in honor of Zeus and in a spirit of noble emulation. Historical records indicate that the first Olympic Games took place in this ground in 776 BC. During the Games an Olympic truce was enacted so that athletes could travel in safety in order to attend the Olympics or participate in this glorious event. The winners received an olive wreath also known as “kotinos” as their reward. Since their revival in 1896, the modern Olympic Games are the leading international athletic event and every four years the Olympic flame is lit here, in ancient Olympia before beginning its journey to the city that will host the next Olympic Games. There are two museums in ancient Olympia, the Archaeological Museum and the Museum of the History of the Olympic Games hosting findings and treasures that reflect the grandeur of ancient Greek civilization. Olympia is less than four hours from Athens and just an hour from the port of Patras or Kalamata airport. The natural beauties of western Peloponnese such as mountains, gorges, rivers, waterfalls, lakes, beautiful beaches, picturesque villages, olive groves and citrus trees will captivate visitors and amply repay any amount of time spent here. The climate is wonderful all year round and Kaiafas beach is 15 to 20 minutes from the hotel by car.  Visit the official city website.  



Smolensk, Russia

A Welcome from the Colorado Springs - Smolensk Committee Chair


Dear friend,


It has never been more crucial to strengthen and maintain American-Russian ties, and it all begins on a city-to-city and person-to-person level.  Through mutual cultural understanding, strong friendships, and educational and economic alliances, great things can be accomplished in our quest for common ground.  I'm looking forward to introducing Russia's intelligent, thoughtful beauty and vast historical importance to Colorado Springs, and conversely, to sharing with Russia the unparalleled, visionary spirit and magnificence of the American West and its people.  I hope to be instrumental in creating new and promising joint cooperation and collaborative activities with our friends and partners in Smolensk in 2014!  If you are new to CSSCI, take a moment to watch the videos below and to learn more about the lovely and geographically significant city of Smolensk, Russia. 


With warm regards,

Stephanie Shakhirev 


Send a message to Stephanie




The walled city of Smolensk was destroyed several times throughout its long history because it was on the invasion routes of both Napoleon and Hitler. Today, Smolensk is noted for electronics, textiles, food processing and diamond faceting.  The city is located in European Russia on the banks of the upper Dnieper River, which crosses the city in the Smolensk Upland, which is the western part of the Smolensk–Moscow Upland.  The river flowing in the city from east to west, divides it into two parts: the northern and southern center.  


Smolensk is among the oldest of Russian cities. The first recorded mention of the city was 863 AD, two years after the founding of ancient Rus'. According to Russian Primary Chronicle, Smolensk (probably located slightly downstream, at the archaeological site of Gnezdovo) was located on the area settled by the West Slavic Radimichs tribe in 882 when Oleg of Novgorod took it in passing from Novgorod to Kiev. The first foreign writer to mention the city was the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus.  In De Administrando Imperio (c. 950) he described Smolensk as a key station on the trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks. The Rus people sailed from the Baltics up the Western Dvina as far as they could then they pulled their boats out onto the ground and dragged them along to the upper Dnieper. 
Read the entire Wikipedia  



Smolensk Official Website (in Russian)  



Bankstown, Australia

A Welcome from the Colorado Springs - Bankstown Committee Chair


The long-standing relationship between Bankstown, Australia and Colorado Springs was born in a joint appreciation of athletic excellence during the 2000 Olympic Games, held in Sydney, Australia. Since the establishment as sister cities in 2001, our two cities have engaged in a variety of cultural exchanges. With a strong foundation of a shared passion for both the arts and athleticism, we hope to continue to maintain this important friendship with the vibrant and bustling city of Bankstown. 
Thank you for your interest! 



Marcia Hendricks 

Send a message to Marcia 




Bankstown is a suburb of south-western Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Bankstown is located 20 kilometres south-west of the Sydney central business district and is the administrative centre of the local government area of the City of Bankstown.


Prior to European settlement, Cumberland Plains Woodland occupied much of the area. Turpentine ironbark forest covered much of what is now Bankstown. The land was occupied by the Bediagal people. Their land bordered the Dharawal and the Darung people. The Aboriginal inhabitants strongly opposed the European settlers. The resistance ceased after a number of their leaders were killed or imprisoned in 1816. In that year an epidemic broke out amongst the native people which reduced the Aboriginal populations, this also contributed to the end of their resistance.


In 1795, Matthew Flinders and George Bass explored up the Georges River for about 20 miles beyond what had been previously surveyed, and reported favourably to Governor Hunter of the land on its banks. Hunter examined the country himself, and established one of the pioneer colonies there, called Bank's Town, today written as one word Bankstown.


Hunter named it in honour of botanist Sir Joseph Banks, who travelled to Australia with Captain James Cook in 1770. The area of first European settlement along the river has been partially preserved as part of the Mirambeena Regional Park. The Bankstown City area includes large areas of the Georges River National Park.


One hundred years after its naming, Bankstown was proclaimed a municipal district on 9 September 1895. At this time there was a feeling of impending growth which was further strengthened by the promise of increased railway extensions. Municipalities that were already constituted became ambitious, and, in 1894, both Enfield and Auburn Councils announced their intention to absorb Bankstown as part of their own municipalities. However, a petition was organised and signed by 300 residents resulting in Bankstown retaining its individual status. And on 9 September 1895 it was proclaimed a municipal district. The first election was held on 2 November 1895. With 884 electors on the roll, 112 people voted to cast a total of 213 votes. Each ratepayer was entitled to 1.4 votes according to the assessed value of his property. Women were not allowed to vote at this stage.


The first town hall and Council Chambers were built in 1898 on the northern side of the Hume Highway (Liverpool Road), near Rookwood Road (site of the Three Swallows Hotel). The council chambers were relocated to a new building in South Terrace (now Old Town Centre Plaza) in June 1918. The building still stands and now has a shopping arcade running through it.


Bankstown Council relocated to its third premises in 1963 when the Civic Centre that is located on the corner of Chapel Road and The Mall was constructed. It included the Council Chambers or ‘Roundhouse’, as it’s called and is still in use today as an administration building. The current town hall was built in 1973. The administration building was destroyed by fire on 1 July 1997. Council offices relocated to Bankstown Civic Tower (the blue tower) in 1999 and on 13 June 2000 Bankstown’s now popular Central Park, where the former administration building once stood, was officially declared Paul Keating Park.  On 27 May 1980, during a visit by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Bankstown was accorded city status.  Read the entire Wikipedia


The Acer Stadium in Bankstown

Old Town Centre Plaza in Bankstown

In addition to being the location of the US Olympic Committee headquarters for the 2000 Olympics, the city was the site of the cycling events for the games in the coliseum pictured here. The idea of a sister city relationship with Colorado Springs grew out of this contact because the US Olympic Headquarters is located in Colorado Springs.


Interesting Links


Bankstown City Website



Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

A Welcome from the Colorado Springs - Bishkek Committee Chair


Dear friend,


This is an exciting time for the relationship we have with Bishkek through the Colorado Springs Sister Cities International program.  Bishkek is an historical and cultural treasure situated at the base of the Tian Shan Range in Central Asia.  Our partnership with Bishkek is strong and our future relationship is an exciting one.  Bishkek has strong international sports and tourist sectors similar to Colorado Springs.  Through cultural understanding and sharing, our future ties with this great city will improve and expand. 



Graeme Badger


Write to Graeme at 

Colorado Springs Sister Cities to Host Kyrgyz Delegation in the Spring 2015


The Bishkek Sister City Committee will host a delegation from Kyrgyzstan May 1-9, 2015. Through the Open World program and the U. S. State Department delegations visit various cities in the U.S. every year.  The delegation from Kyrgyzstan will focus on "water management and dry land irrigation" while in Colorado Springs. Delegates will stay with local families in their homes during their visit. Host families will have Russian speaking members since the delegates may not speak English very well.


It is the intention of the program to reach out to younger people (age 30 and under) in hopes of better communication between our two nations. Colorado Springs has hosted Kyrgyz delegations in the past and focused on eco-tourism and elementary education with these groups.  Some of the activities that are being planned are visits to the Venetucci Farm in the south part of town and an irrigated farm on the Arkansas River east of Pueblo. The National Resource Conservation Service, a branch of the Department of Agriculture, will play an important role explaining current techniques in soil health and using technology for water management.

Academics from local universities will be making presentations. The delegation will visit a couple ranches in the mountains and see how water is managed at higher elevations.  In addition to the professional portion of the program, we will show the delegates our culture and some of the wonderful tourist areas in the Pikes Peak region.  We will draw from contacts within the Russian speaking community and local students studying Russian. College Russian students will be actively utilized during the visit. Professor Pavel Kozhevnikov will serve as translator during the visit. Professor Kozhevnikov is well known as a college instructor of Russian and is also known for his published Russian poetry.  


Bishkek Ala-Too Square

Bishkek National Historical Museum

Dancing fountains at night in Bishkek




Bishkek is situated at about 800 metres (2,600 ft) altitude just off the northern fringe of the Kyrgyz Ala-Too range, an extension of the Tian Shan mountain range, which rises up to 4,855 metres (15,928 ft) and provides a spectacular backdrop to the city. North of the city, a fertile and gently undulating steppe extends far north into neighbouring Kazakhstan. The Chui River drains most of the area. Bishkek is connected to the Turkestan-Siberia Railway by a spur line.  Bishkek is a city of wide boulevards and marble-faced public buildings combined with numerous Soviet-style apartment blocks surrounding interior courtyards and, especially outside the city centre, thousands of smaller privately built houses. It is laid out on a grid pattern, with most streets flanked on both sides by narrow irrigation channels that water the innumerable trees which provide shade in the hot summers.  Read the entire Wikipedia 



Fujiyoshida, Japan

A Welcome from the Colorado Springs - Fujiyoshida Committee Chair


Colorado Springs and Fujiyoshida share more than simple geographic similarities. As two cities situated at the base of glorious iconic mountain peaks, Fujiyoshida and Colorado Springs have had numerous opportunities for cultural, economic, and educational exchanges in its more than fifty-year relationship. The relationship between our two cities furthered strengthened in a show of mutual support in the midst of individual natural disasters experienced by Fujioshida during the earthquake and tsunami of 2011, and most recently the Waldo Canyon fire of Colorado Springs in 2010. Our two cities greatly look forward to continuing this beautiful friendship that has blossomed through shared tragedy and triumph. 



Robin Lawrentz

Send a message to Robin





Are you interested in a GREAT OPPORTUNITY to VISIT JAPAN?  The 25th Japan-America Grassroots Summit (a.k.a. Manjiro Summit) takes place July 6-13, 2015, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu Island, Japan.  It's an economical way to visit Japan and includes local homestays...real grassroots!  Participants are treated as very special guests, see commentary on CIE website:

John Manjiro Whitfield Commemorative Center for International Exchange (CIE)

(See Grassroots Summit brochure for details)

NOTE:  Mochitsuki (rice cake pounding event), Saturday, January 17, 2015 at Colorado College (Colorado Springs),

10:00 AM - 12:30 PM:

(Paul Maruyama plans to be there; summit flyers will be available)




NOTICE:  Any former Amacheans planning to attend the Oita Summit should let the Amache Preservation Society (APS) know ahead of time.  The APS will be presenting the Camp Amache Story several times during the summit.  Your participation in the presentation is not required; however, you maybe introduced during the summit.  One former Amachean has already indicated that she is planning to go.






July 15, 2014


Dearest Readers,
The rainy season is upon us and dense clouds linger above our city and around the base of Mount Fuji.  Though the lack of sun makes us dreary, the cool, calm air is a welcome reprieve from the record-breaking highs we experienced early on in the summer. 
After seeing the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony off at the end of last month following their three night stay and fabulous outdoor concert on Lake Yamanakako, the International Affairs Desk is now hard at work preparing for our busiest and most anticipated summer season yet.  The pre-departure training for our annual Middle School Sister City Delegation is underway with a mere 5 sessions left before departing for Colorado, the famous Fuji Mountain Race will take part on the 25th of this month with 47 foreign competitors from 12 countries registered to compete, and the Citizen’s Summer Festival will follow on the 26th.  The International Affairs Desk and International Friendship Association plan to set up an informational booth for foreign tourists at the Yoshida Fire Festival on August 27, and we will begin the city’s English conversation class at the beginning of September. 
This edition of the Reiho Fuji is dedicated to providing all you need to know about climbing Mount Fuji.  During the summer season, the International Affairs Desk prints and ships nearly 2,000 hard copies of the Climbing Season Edition to individuals, information centers, airports, train stations, hotels, etc. across the nation and globe.  According to Google Analytics, the Climb Fuji page of the city’s official English homepage and online version of this edition receive over 100,000 hits between July and August alone.  If you or your organization are interested in receiving hard copies of this or any other edition please feel free to contact us!
2014 Climbing Season Edition
We thank you for your continued readership and look forward to continuing to bring you the best from our humble slice of heaven at the base of Mount Fuji!  Enjoy!
Warm Regards,
Yumi Matson
Coordinator for International Relations
Fujiyoshida City Hall
6-1-1 Shimoyoshida, Fujiyoshida
Yamanashi, JAPAN 403-8601




by David Sckolnik


June 17, 2014

All praise Mt. Fuji!


Our first full day in Fujiyoshida proved to be very predictable… that’s right- incredible natural beauty, kind and oh-so-accommodating people and gorgeous food. The Youth Symphony kids continued their uninterrupted stay with their home families; the adults got to tour some of the sites.  At the exact spot we were dropped off in the downtown, a slow processional parade was headed right for us. Men clad in white ceremonial robes led the way and very young Japanese children dressed in stunning colors and textures followed behind with their parents. We had stumbled into a once-every-60-year festival. A new entry arch for the Shinto shrine Fuji Sengen Jinja” was to be celebrated today.


After hooking up with David Ruminski and Kieran Doyle, we toured the ancient “Pilgrim’s Inn- the Togawa Oshi House” where those who would dare to climb would rest upon reaching Fujiyoshida.  David and Kieran still had thoughts about another style of worship - the performance of the Verdi “Requiem” back in Tokyo. Kieran was humbled. “I just switched from euphonium to tuba this past year. I was stunned at how incredible the tuba player was,” he said. “The other kids could appreciate how that orchestra played just one step removed from being able to do the same. I’m so new to my instrument that I’m much further away.” With apologies to Kieran, I respectfully disagree. He is a talented and fine sounding player.  A light flipped on in David’s eyes as he began to recall the performance. “It was totally awesome,” he said. “that’s the place we all want to get to.”  With the boys in tow, we headed off for a special lunch. We knew we were headed for a “roll your own Sushi session.” What we didn’t know was how remarkable the people who would host us, “the Jackson Club,” would be.


Greeting ua at yet another ancient structure was the quartet of Katie Hart, Emma Johnson,  Elisabeth Buvarp and Abbi Chapman. They were full of enthusiasm. We would soon find out why.  Their host family included a woman known as "the mother of Fujiyoshida.” And yes, her deportment is very warm and maternal. At latest count, she has hosted 200 visitors from other counties in her home. She is also a member of the Jackson Club.


Once again, the warmth and generosity of the Japanese people amazed us all. But there is something even more special about this city.  

As citizens of Colorado Springs we are all family here. We walk down the streets as honored guests. We all are resolved to make sure that when children or adults visit our city we do the same for them.  The entire experience coalesced when reached the grounds of Shinto shrine. Ancient towering cedars paved the way to the shrine. The clutter and confusion of the modern world evaporated as we made our way to the opulent temple. A calmness overcame us all.  The Youth Symphony kids get back to work today, Sunday, for an outdoor concert with her, Mt. Fuji, looking on. I doubt we’ll ever have a more important audience. 


Fujiyoshida Mayor Shigeru Horiuchi and wife Mayumi Horiuchi enjoy hospitality at 50th anniversary of Sister City relationship event in Colorado Springs.nd gave a joint concert with the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony.

In 2012, at the 50th anniversary celebration, the students celebrated their arrival at the top of Pikes Peak.

Fujiyoshida Mayor Shigeru Horiuchi and wife Mayumi Horiuchi enjoy hospitality at 50th anniversary of Sister City relationship event in Colorado Springs.nd gave a joint concert with the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony.


Student Exchanges

Each summer Fujiyoshida middle school students and chaperones visit Colorado Springs. They stay with host families here, many of whom have served as hosts in the past. This past year's visitors range from 14 to 15 years of age. They attend Junior High Schools in Fujiyoshida. The chaperones are usually from Fujiyoshida City Hall and teachers from local Schools. Group activities include tours to the top of Pikes Peak, the Garden of the Gods City Park and Trading Post. Also a picnic is held for the visitors, their hosts, Rampart High School student volunteers and members of CSSCI. While the visitors are here, they share everyday life experiences with the host families such as visits to shopping malls, restaurants, movies, nearby tourists attractions, participate in sports, and meet and make friends with other young people of similar ages. 


Host families are needed each year. So if you know of any one interested in serving please get in touch with chair Jill McMillan by email.

Recent News


May 14th, 2014



Click these links to learn more:

Fujiyoshida City News

Fujiyoshida Int'l. Affairs Desk





Robin Lawrentz, 2014 CSSCI Committee Chair for Fujiyoshida, Japan and a JASSC member, is now in training with the Colorado Springs Police Academy.  Robin, with wife Leighann and two boys, just returned to the Springs after 4 years on the International Affairs desk at Fujiyoshida City Hall. 


In 1961, when Mrs. Elizabeth H. Rose, the Denver-Takayama “Sister City” chair, was visiting in Japan, she met with Dr. Tameichi Yasaki (Ph.D.), Japan’s top nuclear scientist, who lives near Fujiyoshida in the city of Kofu, the capital of the prefecture in which Fujiyoshida is located.  Also meeting with them was the then Mayor of Fujiyoshida, The Honorable Noboru Horiuchi.  Mrs. Rose suggested Colorado Springs as a “Sister City” for Fujiyoshida for several reasons:  first of which was the similarity of geographical location; Colorado Springs being a great resort and recreation town located at the foot of Pikes Peak, a world famous mountain; and Fujiyoshida being a famous resort and tourist town of Japan, and located at the foot of famous Mt. Fuji.  And, both have some industry and some military establishments.  So Mayor Horiuchi communicated with Colorado Springs city officials by an official letter in Nov. of 1961, and received a tentative commitment to affiliate with his city in Japan.   Then a formal request for affiliation was sent from Fujiyoshida to the Mayor of Colorado Springs.  Our program was initiated on Feb. 13, 1962 when the City Council adopted a resolution to affiliate with Fujiyoshida, Japan.  In that year our then Colorado Governor, Governor Stephen McNichols, carried the official proclamation from our Mayor and City Council to Japan when he attended a Governor’s Conference in Tokyo.  He handed it to the Governor (Governor Hisashi Amano) of Yamanashi Prefecture (in which our “Sister City” of Fujiyoshida is located) and it was then handed to the Mayor of Fujiyoshida.  


Reference:  A History of the Colorado Springs-Fujiyoshida, Japan “Sister City” Program, May 14, 1964 

Note:  Takayama, Japan became a sister city of Denver in 1960. 


Yumi Matson is now Coordinator for International Relations, replacing Robin at the International Affairs Desk, Fujiyoshida City Hall: 


Yumi is the adopted daughter of Professors Joan Ericson & Jim Matson, Colorado College, Asian Studies (both JASSC members): 


Learn more about Fujiyoshida, Japan

The torii gate, shrine and crisscrossed bridge, located in the North Nevada Avenue median between Platte Ave. and Bijou St. in downtown Colorado Springs, were repainted in 2004 & 2007. Rampart High School Japan Club students, who are studying the Japanese history and language, volunteered to scrape and repaint the structures. They were supervised by their teachers, Alex Echevarria and Liz Groothof-Croddy. The City's Operations Division donated ladders, paint and brushes for the event. For their dedicated effort, Carl's Jr Restaurant rewarded the student with free hamburgers. 


The Japanese structures were a gift to Colorado Springs in 1966 from the Rotary Club of Colorado Springs in commemoration of the Sister City relationship between Colorado Springs and Fujiyoshida. A plaque near the torii says the purpose of the sister city relationship is to promote understanding between the people of our two countries and cities.  


Kaohsiung, Taiwan

A Welcome from the Colorado Springs - Kaohsiung Committee Chair



Thank you for your interest in the partnership of Kaohsiung, Taiwan and Colorado Springs, Colorado! Kaohsiung is a city of great economic significance, and both economic and cultural exchanges between our cities remain an essential part of Colorado Springs Sister City International. In the history of our relationship, we have found ways to experience and appreciate the beauty of each other's culture from across the globe. Please take a moment to learn about Kaohsiung, and the richness of its people, trade, and culture. 



Eva Johnson

Send a message to Eva





In August of 2014, deadly gas pipeline explosions rocked the city of Kaohsiung, causing destruction and a tragic loss of life.  The Kaohsiung Committe at Colorado Springs Sister Cities International reached out to Kaohsiung in a show of solidarity and support.


Read the letter to Mayor Bach from Chu Chen, the mayor of Kaohsiung 



Eva Johnson, Kaohsiung Sister City Chair displays the banner for the World Games to Warren Hill, CSSCI President. The World Games were held in July 2009 at Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Eva returned from Taiwan with the banner after a visit with city officials earlier in 2009.


Friendship Force of the Pikes Peak region visited Kaohsiung, Taiwan in February, 2013 and met with the Mayor's International Office Manager, Mr. Henry Huang (center).


Nuevo Casas Grandes, Mexico

A Welcome from the Colorado Springs - Nuevo Casas Grandes Committee Chair


Dear friend,


Through the past 10 years there has been a lot of activity with our friends in Nuevo Casas Grandes.  As you can see from photos posted on this web site there have been art project exchanges, gifts of school buses and furniture, gifts of fire trucks and equipment, and gifts of computers for rural schools.  All of these things, mostly made possible with Rotary Club Foundation grants, have stimulated added economic development in our Sister City.  Children have more opportunity and the city is better protected against the ravages of fire.  The giving has gone both ways.  Nuevo Casas Grandes has assisted us with a  dental project in Colorado Springs for indigent children here.  We want to continue our relationship with them by looking for new ways to engage in these across the border opportunities.  If Mexico is stronger we both benefit. 



Warren Hill 


Send a message to Warren




Nuevo Casas Grandes, a city of 80,000, was founded in the 1870's. It is situated in a wide, fertile valley on the 4,000 foot Mesa del Norte of the Plateau of Mexico in the central part of the Chihuahua State. Nearby are the Sierra Madre Occidental (Rocky Mountains) and the Casas Grandes River. Many of the region's inhabitants are of Native American ethnic groups closely related to our own southwest cultures. 
The area around Nuevo Casas Grandes is noted for its great historical and archaeological heritage. Five miles southwest of Nuevo Casas Grandes is the most important archaeological site in northern Mexico, including the Casas Grandes Archaeological Zone and the Paquime Archaeological Zone highlighted by the new Paquime Museum. Nuevo Casas Grandes is also world famous for the nearby "potter village" of Mata Ortiz and its revival of pottery in the ancient Paquime tradition. To see more of Mata Ortiz click here. Also nearby are a Mormon village, Mennonite communities, and apple and pecan orchards. 

Read the Wikipedia

In 2012, Rotarians donated two "rapid response" trucks, #6 & #7, to Sister City Nuevo Casas Grandes.  

The Mayor of Nuevo Casas Grandes tries out the driver's seat of a "new" fire truck for their city in 2009. A Rotary Club and Sister City collaboration made the gift of the Cimmaron Hills ladder truck possible. Firemen from both cities trained on the truck. This is the fifth fire truck donated through these efforts. Much additional equipment has also been donated to make their department in Mexico self-sufficient.

Mayor Steve Bach of Colorado Springs talks with Presidente Luis Cobos of Nuevo Casas Grandes during the gift ceremony.




In 2008, Rotarians, and Colorado Springs School District 11, continued their assistance by donating a total five school buses for use in Nuevo Casas Grandes.






The following procedures are to be followed for the establishment of a new sister city relationship: 


1) Contact Sister cities, International in Alexandria, Virginia to determine appropriateness of proposed relationship.


2) The interested individual, group, or organization must form an exploratory committee of interested residents of the community who are committed to promote and support the proposed relationship. This committee should consider the following factors:

Is there agreement between Colorado Springs and the foreign city on the purpose and goals of the sister city relationship, and are the goals realistic? Are there similarities to Colorado Springs with respect to population, geographic location, terrain, climate, etc.? 

Is there a viable support group in Colorado Springs that shares an ethnic/cultural identity or other interests with the foreign city (groups, clubs, associations, businesses)? Type of economic base? Are there shared interests, concerns, and potential opportunities? Is there adequate communication available to sustain the relationship? Is it a desirable place to visit? How easily accessible is it? Are there any problems associated with economic or political stability? 

This committee is to contact the city which would become a sister city to make sure there is interest in such a relationship. A corresponding committee in the foreign city must be set up. There must be an indication of support for the relationship from the local government in the foreign city.


3) When the above requirements have been met and the committee wishes to pursue a sister city relationship, the committee is to contact the President of C.S.S.C.I., who will schedule a preliminary presentation at an Executive Committee meeting. 

After the presentation the Executive Board will vote on the acceptance of the exploratory committee as a proposed Sister City. The Mayor of the City of Colorado Springs shall be informed of the possibility of a new sister city relationship.

Following the acceptance by the Executive Committee (meeting), the exploratory committee will set up a proposed sister city committee. This committee will elect leadership, raise funds, garner community support, and demonstrate success to the Executive Board by functioning for two years as a viable sister city committee. At that time the Executive Board will vote on the acceptance or rejection of the committee as a permanent sister city committee. The President will schedule a presentation at a regular meeting of the C.S.S.C.I. membership who will vote on the proposal by secret ballot and a simple majority will prevail.


4) If approved by CSSCI, the President will request, by letter to the City Manager of the City of Colorado Springs, to be placed on the informal agenda of City Council. The presentation at the City Council meeting will be made by the chair of the proposed new sister city committee and will be supported by members of the committee as well as the President of CSSCI. on behalf of it's Executive Committee and it's members. If approval is granted at the informal Council meeting a formal resolution will be placed on a future regular City Council meeting.


5) The signing of an agreement between the two cities outlining the programs and objectives of the two cities will take place at the earliest possible time.


Harris Kalofonos, Chairman of the Colorado Springs - Ancient Olympia, Greece Committee

Harris Kalofonos is the International Relations Consultant for the International Olympic Academy in the U.S., and the Manager of Marketing at USA Wrestling (USAW). He was instrumental in making Colorado Springs and Ancient Olympia, Greece sister cities in April, 2014. Over the years Harris worked on several projects related to USAW’s sponsors’ ability to communicate effectively with the organization’s 200,000 plus members. He has also played a significant role in the International Relations and Olympic Hospitality Programs of USAW having worked at four Olympic Games since 2004. He is originally from Greece, and prior to his role at USAW, he served in his home country's military as a Special Forces Officer. Beyond his professional life in the Olympic movement, Harris is involved in developing funding proposals for renewable energy initiatives. During his free time he is an avid hiker, camper, and snowboarder.


Young Champion Ambassador



The “Young Champion Ambassador” project is a Colorado Springs Sister Cities International program that aims to engage the Colorado Springs High School and Local Community, create awareness for the Olympic Movement, and strengthen the sister-city connection with Ancient Olympia.

The student winner, aka the Young Champion Ambassador, will represent Colorado Springs in the Olympic Flame Lighting Ceremony, in Ancient Olympia, Greece, the birthplace and the authentic host site of the Olympics. The event takes place every two Olympic Years, three months before the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, and therefore the first Olympia visit will occur in May 2016. The program has the potential to reach the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, as identified by our strategic planning.


The challenge is going to be operated through Colorado Springs School Districts that chose to participate, and only 9-11 grade students are eligible to compete. The competition will be in two stages and will include an essay and a presentation component. The program also includes “Young Champion Ambassador Tour”, several events that will take place during the preparation period before the Ancient Olympia trip.






School Districts will be divided into Groups. Students are going to be evaluated based on an essay.

Subject: For many people, Colorado Springs is considered America’s Olympic City due to the fact that the headquarters of the US Olympic Committee and 22 National Governing bodies of Olympic sports are in the city. The Young Ambassador program was created as a result of Colorado Springs becoming a sister city with Ancient Olympia, Greece, in June of 2014. Ancient Olympia is the birthplace and authentic site of the Ancient Olympic Games. In modern times Ancient Olympia is been honored by the International Olympic Committee as the host site of Olympic Flame Lighting Ceremony, an event that takes place three months before the Opening Ceremonies of the Summer and Winter Olympic Games. It has been a tradition by the city of Ancient Olympia to have a young individual from each of its sister cities to be one of the first torch barriers. Question: Why would you like to be a Young Champion Ambassador? If you become the Champion and represent the city in Ancient Olympia, in May 2016, what will you tell about Colorado Springs?


Writing guidelines:

-Up to 400-500 words (minimum 250)



School Champion Level, December 3rd

-Assigned teachers from each High School will be responsible to evaluate the essays

-The teachers will have a 2-week deadline to evaluate the essays and provide the District Team Leader with the School Champion

Deadline: December 3rd, 2014


District Champion Level

-The District Team Leader will collect all the School Champions’

essays and internally select the District Champion

-A representative of our team will assist the District Team Leaders with the evaluation

Deadline: December 10th, 2014


Group Champion Level (Semi-Final)

-The District Champions’ essays that belong in the same group will be evaluated externally to ensure the fairness of the competition.

Deadline: December 17th, 2014



Every Group will have a winner of the best essay who will be qualified to participate in phase two. The Group Champions will be evaluated based on a presentation.

-10 minute Presentation - 5 minutes for Q&A

-Presentation will require an art piece that will illustrate their Olympic Movement perspective (i.e. photo, drawing, sculpture, music, etc.)



-Each school will internally choose a Champion based on an essay evaluation.

-The School Champions’ essays will be sent to the District Team Leader.



-Each District, with the Team Leader’s coordination, will provide us with the District Champion after a further evaluation of the essays.



-The District Champions that belong in the same group will compete for a spot in the Final Stage, based on their essays.



-The Final 5 Students will participate in a 15 minute presentation, in front of a committee.

-Presentation will require an art piece that will illustrate their Olympic Movement perspective (i.e. photo, drawing, sculpture, music, etc.) 
















Eleftheria Petridi,



Official Website:







Lodging in Ancient Olympia

When you decide to visit our Sister City Ancient Olympia, accommodation will be in your priority list! We want to ensure that you will get the best feeling of the infamous greek hospitality, while you enjoy the undeniable beauty of Ancient Olympia. There is a variety of choices when it comes to accommodation, satisfying every kind of taste; from the highly recommended Europa Hotel, to camping facilities for those that prefer this type of vacation. What all of these hotels have in common, is their close proximity to the popular sites, the exceptional facilities, the friendly ambiance, and of course a top-notch traditional Greek gastronomic experience. Feel free to review the hotels, and be certain that no matter what, you will be near the most eminent and significant buildings and monuments, including the ancient stadium of Olympia, where the Olympic Games were held, while admiring a valley of outstanding beauty spreading between two rivers, the Alpheus and the Cladeus.







Hotel Europa is the place to stay when you visit our Sister City Ancient Olympia. Built on a privileged spot overlooking Ancient Olympia offers an idyllic view of the Arcadian mountains and the paradisiacal valley, which lies between two rivers, the Alpheus and the Cladeus.  Due to its location and heritage, Europa hotel promises high standards of hospitality along with exquisite style and aesthetics. Nestled in green surroundings the hotel with its outstanding architecture enhanced by the use of natural stone and wooden elements, bright 
colors and refined details creates the ideal setting for an unforgettable stay. Enjoy our unrivalled hospitality services in a cozy family environment. Europa is highly rated by state leaders, members of the Olympic Family, famous artists and writers as well as everyday guests, who during their stay at the hotel had the opportunity to experience the renowned Olympian hospitality, in the exact place where Xenios Zeus, the patron deity of hospitality, was worshipped.  Europa hotel is situated above Ancient Olympia, the most celebrated sanctuary of ancient Greece. Dedicated to Zeus, the father of the Olympian gods, the sanctuary hosted one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the renowned gold and ivory statue of Zeus. Ancient Olympia is also known as the birthplace of the Olympic Games. According to historical 

records, the first Olympic Games took place in this ground in 776 BC. Every four years the Olympic flame is lit here and begins its journey to the city that will host the next Olympic Games. Travel in past through this crack in time, admire the grandeur of antiquity and walk 
on the footsteps of the first Olympic winners.  





Taverna “The Garden” is located by the pool and amidst a blooming garden boasting an enchanting backdrop of the majestic Arcadian mountains and the valley of the Alpheus River. Indulge yourselves in a feast of traditional Greek cuisine based on fresh and natural ingredients cooked with artistry and flair. You can complete this unique gastronomic experience by savoring our exquisite local wines under the invigorating shade of imposing olive trees. Family ambiance Europa hotel is the ideal destination for lovers of nature and tranquility combining the harmony and positive aura of the scenery with the impeccable service of our attentive and friendly personnel. Either alone or with company the cozy, family-like environment will make you feel at home. High quality services We hope that we will have the pleasure to welcome you to the most hospitable corner in the world and offer you a taste of our top notch services. Our beautifully decorated, well-equipped rooms, the impressive swimming pool as well as our restaurants and bars providing for every need and comfort will make your stay a memorable one. Small conference facilities Europa hotel comprises an exceptional venue for conferences, seminars and business meetings fully equipped with audiovisual appliances and capable to meet all your needs and provide an efficient working environment. Location Hotel Europa is built on the top of Drouvas Hill in Ancient Olympia, at the foot of which lies the sacred Altis, which encompasses the most eminent and significant buildings and monuments as well as the ancient stadium of Olympia, where the Olympic Games were held.  Visitors can admire a valley of outstanding beauty spreading between two rivers, the  Alpheus and the Cladeus.    





Amalia Olympia Hotel


Arty Grand Hotel


Hotel Antonios


Hermes Hotel


Hotel Hercules


Hotel Inomaos


Hotel Pelops


Kronion Hotel


Neda Hotel 

Nea Olympia Hotel


Olympion Asty Hotel


Pension Bacchus   




Athina Olympia Hotel

Ilis Hotel


Posidon Pansion


Kaiafas Lake Hotel












Lambia Mountains






Alphios Camping


Diana Camping


Olympia Camping
































Attractions and Activities in Ancient Olympia


In western Peloponnese, in the “Valley of Gods”, lies the most celebrated sanctuary of ancient Greece and the birthplace of the Olympic Games, the most significant athletic event of all times. Olympia is one of the most well known destinations in Greece and one of the most powerful brand names worldwide. Visit the archaeological site of Olympia, which includes two museums and the buildings of the sacred Altis: the ancient Gymnasium, the Palaestra, the Vouleuterion, the Temples of Hera and Zeus. East of the Altis lies the stadium of Olympia, where the Olympic Games were held in a spirit of noble emulation. During the games a sacred truce was established between the participating city-states. The prize for the winners was an olive wreath also known as kotinos. Visitors can walk through the impressive ruins, where ancient Olympians used to honor their gods or train for athletic events.


They can also visit the museum and get the chance to see some of the most renowned exhibits, such as Hermes of Praxiteles, Nike of Paeonius as well as the sculpted decoration of the Temple of Zeus. The west pediment of the Temple of Zeus depicts a battle between the Lapith Greeks and the Centaurs. Altis, the sacred grove with its olive trees, pine trees, planes, poplars and oaks was first formed during the tenth and ninth centuries BC, when the cult of Zeus was probably established and Olympia was subsequently devoted exclusively to worship. In 775 BC, Iphitos, king of Elis, Kleosthenes of Pisa and Lykourgos of Sparta reorganized the Olympic Games in honor of Zeus and instituted the sacred truce. Soon the quadrennial event acquired a Panhellenic character. Only free male Greek citizens were allowed to participate in the festival. Greeks from the Caspian Sea, the Pillars of Hercules or even Africa converged on Olympia either to attend the athletic event or to compete. Among them were philosophers, heroes and renowned men of antiquity. According to the Olympic Truce, wars were suspended during the Games. The truce was respected by all city-states for many centuries. Moreover, the Statue of Iphitos crowned by a woman, Ekecheiria, in the Temple of Zeus is a symbol of the Sacred Truce and the cessation of hostilities. The Games lasted five days and included foot race, equestrian events, discus throw, javelin throw, long jump, boxing, wrestling as well as the pentathlon. The prize for the winner was an olive wreath also known as kotinos. Furthermore, champions were honored as heroes, poets and musicians sang paeans of praise for them and sculptors made their statues, which were erected in a prominent location. 


During the Archaic Period monumental buildings, such s the Temple of Hera, the Prytaneion, the Vouleuterion, were constructed. The sanctuary continued to flourish during the Classical Period, when the glorious Temple of Zeus (470-456 BC) as well as baths, treasuries and the Stoas were erected and the stadium moved outside the sacred Altis. Around 430 BC the Statue of Zeus, a sculpture of ivory plates and gold panels, was made by the famous Greek sculptor Phidias and erected in the Temple of Zeus in Olympia. The statue was regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. During the Hellenistic period the construction of buildings, such as the Gymnasium and the Palaestra continued, while in Roman times numerous luxurious residences, hot baths and an aqueduct were built. The countless statues, monuments and precious religious objects were lost, since the sacred area of Altis was repeatedly pillaged. The sanctuary continued to function during the first years of Christian rule under Constantine the Great. The last Olympic Games were held in 393 AD since Theodosius I banned them for being pagan.


Visit The Hellenic Ministry of Culture Ancient Olympia



The Alpheus river is the largest river in Peloponnese. Ancient Greeks believed that Alpheus was a brave young man who loved hunting. Therefore, he wandered in the dense forests and killed with his arrow deer, wild boars and other wild animals. One day he met a beautiful nymph. He was stunned by her beauty but she left quickly without telling a single word. He started looking for her and heard that her name was Arethousa. In the following days, they met again and talked for hours. Alpheus fell in love with her and asked her to marry him. However, Arethousa refused his proposal and chose to remain single. In order to avoid Alpheus she decided to travel to Sicily. But she started feeling homesick and longed for her return. One day a god spared her and turned her into a spring of crystal water, which flowed into the sea in an attempt to reach Peloponnese. Alpheus was looking for her in vain until the same god spared him, as well transforming him into a river.


The waters of the river flowed through Olympia and emptied into the Ionian Sea, in order to mix with the waters from Arethousa’s spring. Consequently, the two young people who did not manage to become a couple, when they were still alive, were united after their death into the depths of the sea. This myth is an indication of the way the great ecosystem of Alpheus should be managed in order to lead to a successful combination of economic development and environmental protection. The Alpheus river is the longest and most important river in Peloponnese.  It is 116 km long and forms valleys, lakes and tributaries creating an amazing scenery. The river flows through places of great cultural and historical significance, such as ancient Olympia. The most significant human values were born at its banks. Since 776 BC and for more than a thousand years, the Alpheus played a key part in Olympia’s legends, myths, heroic deeds, memories and secrets. Then, the excavations of the German Archaeological Institute started in the area of the sacred Altis and the magnificent treasures of Olympia were brought to light. Following, thus, the river’s flow is like reliving the most glorious moments in Greek history. 



The Cladeus is a river in Elis and a tributary of the Alpheus river. The Cladeus river was personified and depicted on statues in the temple of Zeus in Olympia. The river’s headwaters are located in Lala. Just a stone’s throw from there, the river forms a beautiful gorge and a natural bridge called ‘Theogefiro’. The Cladeus flows through Olympia and empties into the river Alpheus, next to the conical Kronios hill. In antiquity, there were olive groves along the riverbanks close to Olympia. Nearby, there were bathing facilities for athletes built during the Roman period, the so-called ‘Thermes Kladeos’.  Excavations brought to light flood control dams, which were built in antiquity and the Roman period in order to prevent flooding.  



The plateau of Foloi or Pholoe is situated in Elis, which borders Arcadia and Achaea and on the foot of Mt. Erymanthos. It is part of the municipality Ancient Olympia and took its name from the king of Centaurs, Pholus, who was a friend of Hercules. The plateau, which is 650m above sea level and covers an area of 42.000 square meters, is named by the locals as ‘the Balcony of Ilia’. The Foloi oak forest is situated on the plateau. It is an ecosystem unique in the Balkan Peninsula and has been designated the status of a protected area enlisted in the Natura 2000 ecological network of the E.U. Some of the oaks are tall like cypresses whilst others are thicker and many-branched. Near the inhabited areas and gorges you can find chestnuts, planes, holm oaks, walnut trees, arbutuses, and other fruit-bearing trees. The headwaters of the river Piniakos (Eliakos) Ladonas or Sellieis are located in the area and also a gorge of historical and ecological value. This is also the place that Hercules caught the Erymanthian Boar. This idyllic landscape is complemented by the emerald green and blue colors of the sea near Olympia. Visit Foloi Official Site



Andritsena is a traditional small town featuring stone fountains, shady plane trees and cobbled streets. The town is built on a hillside, northwest of Mt. Lykaion. Andritsena is 60 km from Olympia and boasts an exceptional library with old books, manuscripts from the period of the Greek War of Independence and a folklore museum. In Bassae or Vassai, northeast of Figaleia and southwest of Andritsena stands the Temple of Apollo Epicurius, one of the most important and imposing temples of antiquity. The temple was dedicated by the inhabitants of Figaleia to Apollo, who came to their aid when they were beset by the plague. The temple rises to a height of 1.130m in the heart of Peloponnese. The building was erected in the second half of the 5th century BC (c.420-410) and is believed to be a work of Iktinos, one of the architects of the Parthenon. The temple is considered to be one of the best preserved classic monuments in Greece. This architectural gem was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1986. The temple’s main decorative feature was the marble Ionic frieze. This frieze was unearthed by 
foreign antiquaries and transferred to the British Museum.  Visit the Hellenic Ministry of Culture 



Karytena is a picturesque village in Arcadia situated 500 m above sea level. The village is 20 km from Megalopoli. The most important site is the 13th century Frankish castle. The area was one of the 12 Baronies of Franks in Peloponnese. Karytena was successively ruled by Byzantine Greeks, Venetians and Ottomans until the Greek War of Independence in 1821. In 1826, it was used by Theodoros Kolokotronis as a military base for his operations against Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt. 



Relax and rejuvenate your spirit in the therapeutic waters of Kaiafas Thermal Springs or enjoy the sandy beaches of the Ionian Sea admiring the lurid red and orange sunset.  Visit the Official Site  


NEMOUTA – ERYMANTHOS (waterfalls) 

Erymanthos is a river in the western part of Peloponnese. Its headwaters are located on the southern slope of Mt. Erymanthos. The river forms a natural border between Elis and Achaea. This stunning setting features multihued flowers, crystal clear waters, wild animals, olive and plane trees as well as an array of native mountain plants. .3 the path of Hercules, the Centaurs and the Erymanthian Boar The path is 12km long. Visitors can follow the path from the Environmental Museum of Foloi, which is located in woodland Loutsa, through the unique oak forest of Foloi until they reach the gorge of the Erymanthos river. This is an area of outstanding natural beauty boasting impressive waterfalls and a wide range of wild fauna and flora. On their way to the picturesque Nemuta village visitors can admire eight spectacular waterfalls, from 15 to 42m high known as the Haratsari waterfalls. This gem of nature was unknown to the public up until now. Another way to reach Nemouta is through the waterfalls of Abula, 17 amazing waterfalls from 15 to 52m high. Visitors can admire many species of birds, insects, wild animals, an abundance of trees such as willows, oaks, planes and pines as well as the remains of old watermills and gunpowder mills.

Read the Nemouta Blog



The Neda is a river in western Peloponnese and one of the few rivers in Greece, which has been given a female name. According to the myth, the river was created by Rhea, Zeus mothers and it owes its name to the nymph Neda, who nurtured young Zeus and protected him from his father Kronos. The landscape with its lush vegetation, the majestic cliffs and the natural beauties is ideal for trekking. Neda waterfalls form a natural pool, like a blue lagoon, where you can take a dip into the cool waters and get immersed in Greek mythology.    



The area of Katakolo-Agios Andreas 20 km from Olympia offers spectacular beaches and scenic bays, where you can enjoy the sea and the sun. Pick one of the bars or taverns by the sea and taste delicious seafood along with ouzo or cold beer.  



Chlemoutsi castle stands on the top of a hill overlooking the valley of Elis and the Ionian Sea. It was built between 1220 and 1223 during the rule of Geoffrey I of Villehardouin as the main stronghold of the Principality of Achaea. Chlemoutsi was ruled successively by Greeks, Venetians and Ottomans until the Greek War of Independence. The castle maintains its Frankish character intact and remains one of the best preserved Frankish fortresses in Peloponnese.  



Kalavryta is one of the most scenic destinations in Peloponnese built on the slopes of Mt. Helmos 750m above sea level. The picturesque houses, the cobbled streets and the plane trees create a dreamy setting. Just a stone’s throw from the village upon a rocky mountain stands the Venetian Castle of Orias. Visit the Monastery of Agia Lavra, which was built in 961 AD at an altitude of 961m and housed 961 monks. In 1689, a new monastery was built. It was here that the call for "Freedom or Death" was first heard launching the Greek War of Independence. Another famous attraction is Mega Spileon, which was built on 362 AD at an altitude of 1000m. The temple of the monastery features amazing frescoes, mosaic floors and a copper carved door. Helmos ski resort is located 14 km from Kalavryta on Mt. Helmos and comprises 12 ski runs, 2 chair lifts, 5 ski lifts as well as special grounds for snowboarding and extreme games. 


Outdoor Activities in Ancient Olympia



Apart from the renowned archaeological site of Olympia and the numberless museums, visitors can attend a treasury of events, such as the Ancient Olympia Festival from July to August as well as the Alpheus Eco-festival during August. Nature lovers can explore the enchanting and astonishingly intact natural surroundings of the river Alpheus and the Nemouta waterfalls, enjoy a relaxing bath in the limpid, azure waters of the Kato Samiko tropical beach or unwind in the curative thermal springs of Kaiafas. For sports enthusiasts, there is an abundance of activities, such as rafting, kayak, cycling, trekking at Olympia’s hills or skiing on the slopes of Mt. Helmos (1.5 hour by car). 



Don’t forget to visit the wide range of churches, monasteries, folklore museums and picturesque villages, castles, caves and historical monuments of the Greek War of Independence in 1821, swim in the pristine waters of the Ionian Sea, unwind in the miraculous thermal spas of the area and embark on a gastronomical journey tasting local specialties. Ancient Olympia is an excellent base for excursions to nearby destinations. It is only 33km from Katakolo port, 60 km from the Temple of Apollo Epicurius, 75km from Ancient Ilida and 60km from Chlemoutsi castle.  Visit Ilia Official Site



Stephanie Shakhirev is the President of Colorado Springs Sister Cities International and the Chair of the Colorado Springs - Smolensk, Russia Sister City Program.  Stephanie graduated with honors from the University of New Hampshire with a B.A. in Mass Media and Communication and a minor in French.  She earned her M.A. in Russian history from California State University.  Her graduate thesis focused on the early history of the Soviet Union, Stalinism, and its impact on Russia and the USSR.  Stephanie’s research has been published in The Journal of Psychohistory.  She has studied Russian language at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and Pikes Peak Community College.  Stephanie served on the the faculty at Sul Ross State University as an instructor of Russian and European history from 2003 to 2005 and in 2006 became a founding partner and Vice President of Business Development at a B2B web and database development firm that creates elite cloud technology for businesses around the world. In addition to her professional endeavors, Stephanie also enjoys her thriving hobby as a singer and songwriter with Russian rock band Кукрыниксы and K Republic where she performs as Stephanie Starr. 

Vice President

Harris Kalofonos is the International Relations Consultant for the International Olympic Academy in the U.S., and the Manager of Marketing at USA Wrestling (USAW). He was instrumental in making Colorado Springs and Ancient Olympia, Greece sister cities in April, 2014. Over the years Harris worked on several projects related to USAW’s sponsors’ ability to communicate effectively with the organization’s 200,000 plus members. He has also played a significant role in the International Relations and Olympic Hospitality Programs of USAW having worked at four Olympic Games since 2004. He is originally from Greece, and prior to his role at USAW, he served in his home country's military as a Special Forces Officer. Beyond his professional life in the Olympic movement, Harris is involved in developing funding proposals for renewable energy initiatives. During his free time he is an avid hiker, camper, and snowboarder. 

City Liaison



Alyssa Blakemore is a Michigan native and an Army wife of five years. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, specializing in History and English, and has studied Russian language through the University of Colorado and Pike's Peak Community College. Most recently, she returned from four months in Voronezh, Russia teaching English as a second language. In addition to her interest in foreign language, she has previously worked as a financial counselor at Fort Campbell, KY and now volunteers her time as an accredited financial counselor to soldiers, families, and other members of the military community at Fort Carson.  

Chair Emeritus

Dr. Dan Hannaway 2014 CSSCI President, M.A.and Ph.D. (Syracuse University), taught Russian at UCCS when it was reinstated to the curriculum in 1990.  He also taught Russian at the United States Air Force Academy from 1968 until 1985.  At the Academy, he was a tenured professor and Chairman of the Foreign Language Department in the early 1980s.  As an Air Force colonel he served as the Air Attache at the U.S. Embassy in Budapest, Hungary from 1986 until 1988.  He served as the president of Colorado Springs Sister Cities International in 1995, 1996, 1999, 2000, and 2013. His late wife, Peg, was president of the organization in 2001, 2002, 2005, and 2006. Dr. Hannaway also was the chair of the Smolensk, Russia Sister City Committee during the 1990’s and 2000’s. 





Nuevo Casas Grandes Chairman Warren Hill Directs Another Successful Bus Exchange Through Rotary of Colorado Springs


Under the inspired leadership of Nuevo Casas Grandes Chair, Warren Hill, The Rotary Club of Colorado Springs and the Rotary District 5470 purchased two school buses for the city of NCG.  The buses were driven to the border on January 16 and 17 by four members of the Nuevo Casas Grandes community.  These are the 6th and 7th school buses that have been donated to Nuevo Casas Grandes through cooperation between the Rotary Club of Colorado Springs and the Rotary Club of Nuevo Casas Grandes Paquime. This exciting project reinforces the Sister City relationship of the two cities.  The Rotary club in Mexico identifies the town's needs and makes the requests to our Rotary Club.  It was a pleasure to welcome our comrades from NCG when they arrives to pick up the buses and make the long journey back to NCG.  Our partners from NCG assumed all expenses of taking the buses back to Mexico.  Their participation in the project for these buses was coming to Colorado Springs to get the buses, drive them back to Mexico.


Photos feature the following members:
Adalberto Gonzales Caballero, teacher; Fausto Arias Ramirez, NCG fire chief; Alonso Almeida Almeida, Casas Grandes fire chief; Bob Werschky, Colorado Springs Rotary member; Manuel Soto Hernandez, Casas Grandes police officer; Warren Hill, Rotary member.