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If you are into sports and you like Olympic Games (I don’t!) Panathinaic Stadium is easy to visit as it is located in the center of Athens.
It is famous because it was the stadium that the first modern Olympic Games took place in 1896 and in this very same spot the Panathenaic Games also took place in honor of the goddess Athena. It was a set of games held every four years, actually part of a much larger religious festival, the Panathenaia.
The stadium is also known in Greece as “Kalimarmaro”(beautiful marble). It is the only one in the world completely made by Pendilis white marble and it’s 204m long and 83 m wide. It can seat about 75.000 people on 50 rows of its U-shape style. The original panathenaic stadium built in 330BC when orator Lycurgos (responsible of ecomomics in Athens) did a lot of public constructions, indcluding the stadium on the valley between the Arditos hill and the opposite low hill just outside the city walls on the banks of Ilissos river. Then reconstructed many times and the stadium’s contemporary structure is a true copy of the one built in 144 AD by Heroed Atticus (during roman era we had the conversion from the original straight form to horseshoe shape). The stadium felt in decadence when Christian religion prevailed and most pagan events were prohibited so the Athenians used part of its marble for other buildings!
In late 19th century (1870-1875) this was the stadium where the Zappean Olympics took place, they were the first attempts to revive the idea of original Olympic Games.
It is open 8.00-19.00 daily (November to February till 17.00)
The entrance fee is 3euros
There is a cafe next to the stadium to wash down the heat or go up to Arditos Hill for the jogging track as many others do or just for the view. If you pass by the stadium in the night you will notice some nice lights on it and probably you can visit Half Note jazz club which is 5' walk from there (see my nightlife tip) opposite the Athens First Cemetery (some famous greek people are lying here, you can wander around during the day if you like to visit places like this, like tourists do at Pere Lachaise in Paris etc)
- Historical Travel
This photo was taken on the night that the Greek athletes returned home from the 1996 Olympics. It also shows the Athenians celebrating the 2004 Olympics to be held in the city. August 2004 is when they will take place.
This is where the first modern Olympics were held.
The Panathenaic Stadium is Seldom Used Now
This splendid stadium containing 60,000 seats and completely covered in marble was the site of the first modern Olympic games in 1896. It is a later reconstruction of the one rebuilt by Herodes Atticus in 144AD. In 2004 the Olympic Games were held in Athens at a newer venue but the finish of the Marathon occurred here as well as the archery contests. Occasional concerts and other performances are still held here. You can run around the track when it is not in use!
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As Beautiful as 2400 Years Ago
The merging of ancient and new in Athens can be seen here, in the Old Olympic Stadium (Kallimarmaro). The first and original stadium in this location was built by Lykourgos in 330 BC.
The first renovation was undertaken by the Roman emperor Hadrian in the 1st century AD. The stadium was then the scene of gladiator fights.
The next reconstruction was done in marble, in the year 144 AD, for the Panathenaic Games, by Herodes Atticus.
Although the stadium later fell into disrepair over the centuries, a detailed description written in the 2nd century survived. This enabled a new replica to be built fot the first modern Olympic Games of 1896. It's a very harmonious structure, made of glistening white marble.
The stadium contains 60,000 seats in 47 rows. At night it is also beautifully illuminated by white light.
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Be sure to bring your track shoes...
Being that Athens is thought of as the birth place of the Olympics, its quite fitting that they have a stadium named for it. It beautiful in its understated simplicity and is viewable from the Acropolis and is about a 25 minute walk from the south slope. Once there you can see right into the stadium and the oval track. It was quite tempting to want to hop the fence and run a few laps but I didn't have my track shoes with me...so much for bringing home the gold.
The stadium (also known as the Kallimarmaron, i.e. the "beautifully marbled") was built for the 1896 Summer Olympics, with completion funding provided by the Greek benefactor George Averoff whose marble statue now stands at the entrance. The stadium was built long before dimensions for athletics venues were standardized and its track and layout follow the ancient hairpin-like model. It can seat about 80 000 spectators on 50 rows of marble steps.
You may watch my high resolution photo of Athens on the Google Earth according to the following coordinates 37º 58' 8.64" N 23º 44' 25.68" E or on my Google Earth Panoramio Panathinaiko Stadium.
- Historical Travel
Originally built in the 4th century B.C., the
Panathenaic stadium, was remade in marble
by Lycurgus in 329 B.C. for the athletic
event of Panathinaea. During this annual
athletic event, the stadium hosted racing,
boxing, jumping, javelin throw, chariot and
horse racing. It was expanded by Herodes
Atticus in 144 A.D. to accommodate 50,000
people, while in Roman times it was used as
an arena. Also known as Kallimarmaron
(beautiful marble), it was rebuilt once again
with funds provided by Athenian benefactor
George Averoff to host the first modern
Olympic Games of 1896. During these
Games, about 280 male athletes from 12
countries participated in 43 events, covering
athletics (track and field), cycling, swimming,
gymnastics, weightlifting, wrestling, fencing,
shooting, and tennis. Its hairpin-like shape
adds to its uniqueness, setting it apart from
modern stadia. Up until the ‘50s, Ilissos River
streamed in front of it. The remnants of the
Temple of Olympian Zeus and Hadrian’s
Gate are a five minute walk from the venue.
In the Athens 2004 Olympics, the stadium
hosted the archery competition and the
marathon finish line. Today it is a tourist
attraction, used only for special events.
It was originally a natural hollow part of the ground between the two hills of Agra and Ardettos, over Ilissos river. It was transformed into a stadium by Lykourgos in 330-329 BC for the athletic competitions of the Great Panathinaea Festivities. Between 140 and 144 AD, Herodes Atticus restored the Stadium, giving it the form that was found at the 1870 excavation: the horseshoe construction with a track 204,07 meters long and 33,35 meters wide. It is believed that the Stadium had a seating capacity of 50.000 people. Separating scales were built between the tiers and on the base of the sphendone there was a portico with Doric-style columns; another portico was placed in the stadium's facade. Herodes possibly restored also the Ilissos river bridge on the Stadium's entrance, making it larger and adding three archways on its base. The bridge was standing there up to 1778 and a part of it was excavated in 1958. At the Roman times, the Stadium was used as an arena, with the addition of a semi-circular wall on the north that was corresponding to the sphendone of the southern side.
The modern times restoration of the Stadium was conducted by G. Averof by the end of the 19th century for the first Olympic Games that were reborn again in 1896.
First Olympic Event
The Olympic Stadium was named after the man to win the first (modern) Olympic marathon race in 1896. Located in the area of Maroussi in Athens, it is the major Greek stadium and hosted the athletics events and the football (soccer) final at the 2004 Summer Olympics. It also hosted the opening & closing ceremonies in 2004.
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The spirit of sportsmanship
The Panathenaic Stadium was built by archon Lycurgus in 329 BC in a natural hollow between two hills, the Agra and Ardettos, on the site of an ancient stadium used for the athletic competitions of the Great Panathinaea Festivities. Built in marble, the Stadium is in designed in a horseshoe shape and is able to seat approximately 50,000 people. In the late 19th century, Evangelos Zappas excavated & refurbished the stadium for the Summer Gamesto to what is is today.
Visitors are not allowed to enter the stadium unless there is an event so you can take pictures from outside.
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Panathenaic stadium or Kallimarmaro was remade in marble in 329BC
(original it had wooden seat)Used from the ancient years to host
the Panathenaic games was rebuilt again in 1896
to host the first Olympic games (with 80000 seats)
it was used again in 2004 Olympic games hosting
the finish line of the marathon race
Kallimarmaro (Olympic) Stadium
Reconstructed and restored for the first modern Olympics (1896), the Kallimarmaro Stadium occupies the same site as the original Panathenaic Stadium built in 330 BC, although the present design is a replica of the rennovations of the stadium by Herodes Atticus in 144 AD.
It's an odd shape by 21st century stadium design - long and thin (no 400 metre running track here)! But even this design can still seat up to 60,000 spectators (you'd never believe that figure looking at it).
See a performance at the Parthenon stadium!
We saw a modern dance performance here. Sitting in the open air theater made it so easy to feel connected to the generations of people who have attended theater for the past 1500 years . Pretty profound!
Panathenaic Stadium, site of first modern Olympics
Greece is where the Olympic games began over 2700 years ago. Back then the Greek athletes competed nude at Olympia and the 5 day event attracted prostitutes from all over the Mediterranean. (The word "gymnasium" is derived from the Greek word "gymnos", which means "naked")
A Byzantine Christian emperor banned the Olympics in 394 because he considered the nude games a pagan tradition.
The first modern Olympics were held in Athens in 1896. Panathenaic Stadium, which dates back to 330 B.C., had become a buried site until 1870 when King George ordered it excavated. Not much work got done though until a rich architect living in Alexandria, Egypt offered to finance the stadium's restoration and it was finally completed in time to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Greek independence from Turkish rule.
The nearby Athens Tennis Club was an additional venue in 1896. The gold medal in men's singles and doubles was won by a British tourist, John Boland, who signed up for the tennis tournament at the last minute upon confirming that he would not have to play nude. (Actually, he substituted for a sick player.)
In 1906 the Olympic games were held in Athens again, after Paris in 1900 and St. Louis in 1904. Verner Järvinen, the first Finn to compete in the Olympics, won the Greek-style discus throw and placed second in the freestyle discus. He became a national hero after returning home and inspired Finland to become a future Olympic power.
The stadium you see today was the finish line for the marathon and was also used for the archery events at the recent 2004 Athens Olympics. It's capable of seating 50,000 spectators but the archery competition only attracted around 500.
There is a statue of a naked discus thrower across the street, posing to remind tourists of the Olympics' ancient origins, as well as a billboard sized black and white photo showing the stadium when it hosted the 1896 games.
- Historical Travel
Open to the public
The Olympic (Panathinaiko) Staium is only a few meter from my apartment. It is a great place to visit anytime during the day.
When it is open you can jog around the track, and night its is beautifully lit. My favorite time to go is late late afternoon. check it out.
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