About Panathenaic Stadium
The site of the first modern Olympic games in 1896, the 2,300-year-old Panathenaic Stadium in Athens is one of the most significant historical sites in Greece. Today, it is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions and the place from where the Olympic flame begins its journey.
History of Panathenaic Stadium
The stadium was originally built around 330 BC on the site of a racecourse. It was used to host the Panathenaic games, a religious and athletic festival celebrated every four years to honour the goddess Athena. At that time, the racecourse had no formal seating and Romans sat on the natural slopes on the side of the ravine.
The stadium was rebuilt in the mid-second century AD by Herodes Atticus, a wealthy Greek-born Roman senator who built a number of grand public buildings in Athens at the time. Indeed, it is the only stadium in the world made entirely of marble. The stadium would have been able to accommodate around 50,000 people.
Abandoned after the rise of Christianity in the 4th century, it was not until the late 19th century that the stadium was excavated and subsequently rebuilt to host the reborn modern Olympics.
Panathenaic Stadium Today
As well as being a site of great historical importance, the Panathenaic Stadium now hosts modern competitions and famously hosted events at the 2004 games. On occasion, the stadium is used as a venue for selected musical and dance performances.
Today, the Panathenaic Stadium remains one of Greece’s most significant and popular tourist sites and includes the annual culmination of the Athens marathon. You can even go for a jog around the track!
Getting to Panathenaic Stadium
From the centre of Athens, the stadium is a 10 minute drive via the Akadimias road. There are also a number of bus and tram services which stop at ‘Záppeio’, from where the stadium is a 3 minute walk. From the centre of Athens by foot, the site is a 30 minute walk via the Stadiou and Irodou Attikou roads.
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