Again and again, we are attracted to Olympic sites. But as far to the past as this time, we had never travelled before.
The Panathenaic Stadium is one of the largest buildings in Athens. It lies between the hills of Agras and Arditto, south-west of the national park, in the exact same spot as its ancient predecessor where the sports competitions of the Panathenaic Games.were held in the past.
As early as 330 BC, a politician had a stadium for 60000 visitors built at this location. Many years later, 140 AD, the stadium was converted by the Roman Atticus into the appearance that it is known for today.
In this appearance the Panathenaic Stadium was discovered by the German architect Ernst Ziller in an excavation in 1869/70. He was able to excavate a horseshoe-shaped structure, which according to estimates had enough room for about 50000 people. The running track had a length of 204.07 meters and a width of 33.35 meters.
In 1896, a stadium for the first modern Olympic Games was built on the foundations of the old complex. The importance of keeping the horseshoe shape of the ancient predecessor was highly emphasised. The very tightly curved interior had a length of 236.
On 47 seats per row, the stadium accommodates about 50000 people. A generous financier made it possible to cover the entire stadium with marble.
Today, due to its dimensions, the stadium is no longer used for sports competitions and due to safety regulations only very rarely for any other events. Only the Olympic Games in 2004 saw the old atmosphere of the stadium was revived. The archery events were held here and also the finish line of the marathon was placed at the Panathenaic stadium.
I was irresistibly drawn towards the Panathenaic stadium. Even from the street that runs past you get an impressive first impression of the stadium. For the full experience and to get the right feel for the place, however, you have to see it from the inside.
I was particularly impressed by the insanely steep rows of seats. I would fancy something like this in today’s venues to get a good look at things even when a humongously tall person sits in front of me once again. This certainly was never an issue here.
Through a gate, under the grandstand, one enters a long corridor. Previously that was the athlete’s way into the stadium to the competitions. Today it leads into a small exhibition where advertising posters for all Olympic summer and winter games can be seen. Alongside them, they show the respective Olympic torches, of whose great variety in designs I was really surprised by.
Maybe it is because of my enthusiasm for the Olympics games or maybe I got carried away by the audio guide. But the stadium really cast its spell on me and I would have loved to travel through time and see the first games of the modern era and experience the atmosphere myself.
Leof. Vasileos Konstantinou,
Athen 116 35,
Opening hours (as of 2015):
Tuesday – Sunday: 8am – 2:30 pm
closed on Mondays
Entry price (as of 2015):
Adults: 5,00 €
Reduced: 2,50 €