The Panathenaic Stadium - Kallimarmaro
The Panathenaic Stadium is located on the site of an ancient stadium and for many centuries hosted games in which nude male athletes competed (gymnikoi agones) in track events, athletics championships as we would call them today. The games, which since antiquity had been held in an area far from the city, were included in the programme of the Panathenaia festival celebrations in 566/565 BC. When the orator Lykourgos assumed responsibility for the finances of Athens, in 338 BC, he included in the public works carried out in the city the building of a Stadium.
The ravine running between Ardettos Hill and the low height opposite, extra muros of the city and in an idyllic setting on the verdant banks of the River Ilissos, was deemed to be an ideal location. This was private land but its owner, Deinias, conceded it to the State for the construction of a Stadium. Major earth-removal works transformed the ravine into a space for contests, with the features of the Greek stadium: parallelogram shape with entrance at one narrow end and room for the spectators on the earth slopes of the other three sides. Lykourgos’ stadium was used for the first time during the celebration of the Great Panathenaia in 330/29 BC, when games in which nude athletes competed were held.
In Roman times the city of Athens was no longer a political power. However, it enjoyed a new intellectual and artistic heyday in the reign of Emperor Hadrian, between AD 117 and 138. In this period, the orator and sophist Herodes son of Atticus spent part of his vast fortune on erecting splendid buildings in many sanctuaries and cities of the Roman Empire. Thanks to the generosity of Herodes, significant works were carried out in the Stadium between AD 139 and 144, which resulted in two main changes to the initial form: the conversion of the original rectilinear shape to horseshoe shape by adding the sphendone, characteristic form of Greek stadia in Roman times, and the installation in the space for spectators, the theatron, of rows of seats (edolia) of white Pentelic marble. A vaulted passage under the east retaining wall terminated at the back of the Stadium. On the track (stibos), marble slabs demarcated the starting line (aphesis) and the finishing line (terma). Integral elements of the track were the bifacial herms. The entrance acquired a propylon in the Corinthian order. A triple-arched marble bridge spanning the Ilissos secured easy access to the Stadium from the city. The whole space, and primarily the portico at the level of the sphendone, was adorned with statues of marble, bronze and even gold. The temple of the goddess Tyche/Fortuna, housing the ivory cult statue of the goddess, had been built on the summit of Ardettos. The Athenians were justly proud of the Panathenaic Stadium, which was unrivalled in the world. For many years, the tomb of Herodes dominated the hilltop left of the entrance.
With the prevailing of Christianity and the prohibiting of pagan celebrations and the barbarous spectacles of Roman times, such as bloody gladiatorial duels and contests with wild beats, the Panathenaic Stadium lost its glory. As time passed it presented a sad picture of dereliction, as the splendid marbles were incorporated into Athenian buildings and fed the limekilns in its vicinity. European travellers, mainly, visited its site, as emerges from their testimonies, in which they also give accounts of the magical rites enacted by young Athenian maidens in the ruined vaulted passage, aimed at finding a good husband.
Among the first attempts to revive the idea of the Olympic Games were the games organized in the Panathenaic Stadium in 1870 and 1875, on the occasion of the Zappeian Olympiads, exhibitions of Greek products with sponsorship from the benefactor of the Nation, Evangelis Zappas. This idea was brought to fruition by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, a French aristocrat with a sound classical education, who organized the International Olympic Conference in Paris, in 1894. President of the Conference and plenipotentiary of the Panhellenic Gymnastics Association was Demetrios Vikelas, who persuaded the delegates that the first modern Olympic Games should be held in the Greek capital in 1896. The Panathenaic Stadium was chosen to host the Olympic Games and was the epicentre of the city’s preparations for this major event. The enormous expense of reconstructing the Stadium was undertaken largely by another benefactor of the Nation, Georgios Averoff. His marble portrait statue, to the right of the entrance to the Stadium, was carved by the sculptor Georgios Vroutos.
From as early as 1836, archaeological excavation had uncovered traces of the ancient Stadium of Herodes Atticus, and on the basis of these findings, as well as of the finds from the excavations conducted by Ernst Ziller in 1869, the plan for its reconstruction was prepared by the architect Anastasis Metaxas. The rebuilding of the Stadium from Pentelic marble is distinguished by its high degree of fidelity to the ancient monument of Herodes.
The first modern Olympic Games commenced on 25 March and concluded on 3 April, and were a resounding success. The victor in the Marathon race, the most popular contest, was the Greek Spyros Louis. It was in the Panathenaic Stadium that the Olympic Hymn was heard for the first time, with lyrics by poet Costis Palamas and music by composer Spyros Samaras. Throughout the twentieth century the Panathenaic Stadium hosted diverse events, among them pan-Hellenic and international games. In the Athens 2004 Olympic Games it experienced moments of suspense and emotion during the archery contests and as the finishing line of the Marathon race. A creation of the Athenians, as its name proudly proclaims, the Panathenaic Stadium has been the venue for noble competition and fair play, of mind and of body, since Antiquity.
The Hellenic Olympic Committee is proud to announce that the Panathenaic Stadium has opened its gates again for the public after many years.
The Panathenaic Stadium is a classical cultural and touristic monument of Greece. Its history is directly connected to the Modern Olympic Games, from their revival in 1896 until the Athens Olympic Games in 2004. It is also the place from which the Olympic Flame is delivered to all the Olympic Games, Winter, Summer and Youth.
The goal of The Hellenic Olympic Committee is to make the Stadium a main tourist attraction and to promote the athletic spirit to the youth by organizing athletic and cultural events for the children.
The Panathenaic Stadium has a long and interesting history that spans throughout the centuries. It was constructed in the 4th century B.C. and was used to host events related to the celebration of the city of Athens, the “Great Panathenaia”. During its long history, the Stadium has seen major changes, having been abandoned and reconstructed more than once. In the late 19th century, the Stadium underwent major reconstructions and took its final form.
The Panathenaic Stadium also features an audio tour, included in the price of the ticket. Upon entering the grounds, each visitor receives an audio guide device in 10 languages (English, French, German, Italian, Greek, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic and Russian) and a brochure containing information about the Stadium, available in English, French, and Greek. The audio tour lasts approximately 10 to 20 minutes, according to the user’s preferences.
There is also a coffee shop operating near the Panathenaic Stadium’s entrance, where visitors can have refreshments or a quick snack.
The Hellenic Olympic Committee plans to operate in the Panathenaic Stadium a small museum, hosting exhibits related to its history. The museum will also contain a store, selling memorabilia and souvenirs.
For your stay in Athens, you can book a room in one of the hotels and Bed & Breakfast inns.
Close to Athens, as well as in many other areas, there are hotels and accommodations of various categories and types (rooms to let, residences, Bed & Breakfast inns, studios, hostels, guesthouses and furnished apartments) that can satisfy every visitor's demands and needs for a pleasant and enjoyable stay.
You will find wonderful hotels, rooms and apartments to let of all categories and price ranges.
Access - Tranportation
Access to Athens through the existing road network in Attica is quick and easy, Syngrou ave (by south suburbs), Piraeus ave (by Piraeus' areas), Mesogion Ave (by north suburbs, east Attica, Kiffisias (by north suburbs), Lenorman (by west suburbs) and Acharnon (by the National highway and north suburbs).
Access from all the other parts of Greece is through Athens - Thessaloniki and Athens - Patra National road networks and from the islands through Piraeus, Rafina and Lavrio ports.
Indicative routes and distances:
Thessaloniki: 503 km
Patra: 214 km
Ioannina: 421 km
Sparti: 214 km
By bus, metro, train, tram, suburban railway and airplane:
See detailed information for traveling by public transport in the special page of HotelsLine.
For your convenience, you can use the route map on the field "Routes" with information about the mileage, the time you need and the route you will follow, selecting the points of interest.