On the same day as the London 2012 Olympic Games closing ceremony, we visited the stadium where the first Modern Olympic Games were held in 1896. The Panathinaiko Stadium otherwise known as Kalimarmaro, is a glorious ancient monument in central Athens with the Parthenon as it’s backdrop.
Entrance to the stadium is a very reasonable 3 Euro with children under 6 free! The audio tour is also free and a must do! The audio is clear and the information invaluable.
The stadium itself is the only stadium constructed out of marble. Originally built in 566BC it had wooden seating and then in 329BC it was rebuilt in marble thanks to a very generous benefactor. The stadium eventually fell into disrepair with much of the seating ending up underground. In 1896, it was rebuilt and restored thanks to the funds provided by Evangelis Zappas and George Averoff but we owe the resurrection of the Olympic Games to the French Baron Pierre de Coubertin.
Walking around the stadium you come across an entrance to a tunnel. Walking up the tunnel, there’s some welcome relief to the heat as you imagine that you are walking in the footsteps of so many athletes entering the stadium to the roar of the crowd. Towards the end of the tunnel we enter an area where flat screen TVs are playing highlights from past Olympic games and on the walls, you can read all about the history of the Olympics in ancient Greece and the stadium itself.
This leads into another room where the walls are lined with the torches of the past Olympiads. It’s so fascinating that we spent quite a bit of time looking at them! Below is the torch of the London Olympiads of 1948 and 2012 and also the Sydney 2000 Olympic torch!
Everyone who visits the stadium seems to want to do a lap on the track and imagine what it would feel like… my kids included!
And the Gold Medal goes to…….
After soaking in the history, it’s time to sit down under the olive trees and soak up some hydration… and there’s heaps on offer including an ouzo if the fancy takes you! We opted for the granita! Yum!
Photography by Ms Gingham