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Olympic torch lit by sun's rays at birthplace of Games

Orestis Panagiotou / EPA

Actress Ino Menegaki, in the role of the High Priestess, lights the torch of the Olympic Flame in front of Hera Temple in Ancient Olympia, Greece, on May 10, 2012.

The Associated Press reports — The flame that will burn during the London Games was lit at the birthplace of the ancient Olympics on Thursday, heralding the start of a torch relay that will culminate with the opening ceremony on July 27.

Actress Ino Menegaki, dressed as a high priestess, stood before the 2,600-year-old Temple of Hera, and after an invocation to Apollo, the ancient Greeks' Sun God, used a mirror to focus the sun's rays and light a torch.

The triangular torch is designed to highlight the fact that London is hosting the Olympics for the third time. It also staged the games in 1908 and 1948.

Under bright sunny skies there was no need for the backup flame that was used during the final rehearsal for the Olympic torch lighting a day earlier. Read the full story.

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Orestis Panagiotou / EPA

The flame will make a 1,800-mile journey through Greece using 490 torchbearers.

John Kolesidis / Reuters

Ino Menegaki holds up the cauldron with the Olympic flame during the torch lighting ceremony.

John Kolesidis / Reuters

Alexander Loukos, center, a British boxer of Greek descent, runs with the Olympic flame during the torch relay at the site of ancient Olympia on May 10, 2012. The torch will be handed to London organizers on May 17 in Athens' Panathiaic Stadium, where the first modern games were held in 1896.

An actress playing high priestess kindles the torch of the 2012 Games, sparking the global relay to the Opening Ceremony cauldron in London on July 27.

Oda / Getty Images

From Wimbledon to Wembley Stadium to The Dome, a look at the venues for the 2012 London Olympic Games.