Panathenaic Stadium

Panathenaic Stadium | Racing Through Time in Athens

A brilliant architectural masterpiece, the Panathenaic Stadium is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Greece. This historic architecture is popularly known as the only stadium in the world to be constructed entirely of marble. This is the reason, the stadium is nicknamed Kallimarmaro, which translates to ‘beautiful marble’ in English.

The construction of the stadium was commissioned by the Athenian statesman Lykourgos in 338 BC to host the Panathenaic Games. It was made of wood and located between the Ardettos Hill and the banks of the River Ilissos. Later, during the Roman era, the Athenian aristocrat Herodes Atticus commissioned its reconstruction in Pentelic marble. Between AD 139 and 144, the stadium transformed into its present horseshoe shape with a massive capacity to accommodate 50,000 spectators at one time. This brilliant masterpiece is famous for hosting the first ever modern Olympic Games in 1896.

The stadium conducted several cultural events and concerts throughout the 20th century. At present, Panathenaic Stadium in Athens attracts many tourists, who come here to take guided educational tours to learn about the rich historical and cultural significance of the stunning architectural masterpiece. It also hosts many important exhibitions and cultural activities from time to time.

History of Panathenaic Stadium

The rich history of the Panathenaic Stadium Athens Greece showcases the rich heritage of the country and the inspiring legacy of the Olympic Games. Originally, the stadium was built back in the 4th century by the Athenian statesman Lykourgos to host the Panathenaic Games, an important athletic and cultural event. The ancient stadium was made of wood and conducted athletic competitions.

During the Roman era, the Panathenaic Stadium was reconstructed by the renowned Athenian aristocrat Herodes Atticus. The stadium was made completely of white Pentelic marble, its durability was enhanced, and its seating capacity was improved to hold 50,000 spectators at one time.

The stadium was abandoned in the later period, after the rise of the Christian population. It was excavated in the year 1869 and between 1870 and 1875 the stadium hosted the Zappas Olympics. The stadium again underwent some renovation work and in the year 1896, it hosted the first ever modern Olympic Games. In the 20th century, the stadium hosted the 2004 Olympic Games and served as the finishing point of the Women’s Marathon. At present, the stadium is a major tourist attraction and offers guided educational tours to visitors. It also hosts many exhibitions, concerts, and cultural performances. The stadium also serves as the place where the Olympic Flame handover ceremony takes place every four years.

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Modern Reconstructions Of Panathenaic Stadium

Excavations and Zappas Olympics

The Olympic Games were revived in Athens to cater to the Greeks' love for athletics and sports. The benefactor E. Zappas in 1856, made the first attempt to revive the Olympic Games in Greece, by offering a significant amount to conduct sports in Athens every four years. These sports were known as the Zappas Olympics, which led to the opening of many gymnastics clubs in Greece. Gymnastics started propagating amongst the public and a total of four Zappas Olympics were held in Greece. Out of the four, the second and the third, which were held in 1870 and 1885 respectively, were held at the Panathinaikos Stadium.

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1896- The first Modern Olympic Games

The idea of reviving the Olympic Games surfaced owing to its association with Greek education. The initiatives of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who was known for his belief in education and sports, led to the formation of the International Sports Congress in Paris in the year 1894. Dimitris Vikelas, the representative of the Panhellenic Gymnastics Association was elected the President of the Conference. The Conference finally accepted the proposal for conducting the first Olympic Games in Athens and a special Olympic Committee was formed immediately. Soon, the preparation for the Olympic Games was started by Secretary General Timoleon Philemon, who chaired the committee.

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20th century Modern Olympics

The Panathenaic stadium in Athens has already hosted many important cultural and sports events. It is also known to have been home to the largest number of spectators at a basketball game, ever since the sport’s inception. This basketball match was held in April 1968 and the Greek team was declared the winner in front of 60,000 spectators. The stadium hosted the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and the Opening Ceremony of the 6th World Athletics Championships in 1997. The stadium also witnessed the completion of the Women’s Marathon and archery at the 2004 Olympics. It has also hosted many concerts, like the Athens Festival in 1985, Vangelis Papathanassiou in 1997, and Jose Carrera in 2007.

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Stadium Today

At present, the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens is known as an important tourist attraction. Managed by the Hellenic Olympic Committee, the stadium hosts special occasions like important exhibitions, concerts, and cultural performances. Visitors are allowed to take a tour of the stadium, run on the track, and learn about its rich historical significance through guided tours. A small traditional cafe is also located at the entrance of the stadium, where visitors can enjoy food and beverages. The committee also has plans to set up a souvenir shop and a museum here.

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Fun Facts about the Panathenaic Stadium

  • The Panathenaic Stadium happens to be the oldest operating stadium in the world. The estimated age of the stadium is around 2,352 years.
  • A few decades ago, the beautiful Ilissos River happened to flow right in front of the Panathenaic Stadium. However, the river is now underground.
  • The Panathenaic Stadium in Greece is known to be the only stadium in the world that has hosted three Olympic Games.
  • Panathenaic is also known as the only stadium in the world that is made completely of white Penteli marble.
  • The stadium is also known to have hosted the first ever modern Olympic Games in 1896.
  • The stadium features a unique horseshoe-shaped design that can accommodate a total of 50,000 at one time.
  • A total of 6 Caryatids, which are beautiful sculpted female figures, serve as the supporting columns for the stadium’s structure. These Caryatids add a unique sense of beauty to the architectural design of the stadium.
  • The stadium features exceptional acoustics, which lets the audience in the stands clearly hear even a whisper made on the track.
  • This Greek stadium has been featured in several films.

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Know Before You Go Panathenaic Stadium

Essential Information
Admission Rules

Location: Leof. Vasileos Konstantinou, Athina 116 35, Greece

How to Reach:

  • By Metro: You can take metro line 2 (red line) and alight at the “Acropolis” or “Syngrou-Fix” station. From here, you can take a small walk to reach Panathenaic Stadium.
  • By Car: You can also drive to the stadium or take a taxi. It is located at the city centre and is easily accessible.
  • By Bus: You can also take a public bus to reach the stadium. The stadium is located on many public bus routes, including Red 550, Green 90, 209 and Yellow 2, 4, 10, and 11.

Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit the Panathenaic Stadium is during the spring and early autumn months, from April to June and September to October. This is the time when the weather of the city is cool and pleasant, perfect for comfortably exploring the stadium and its surroundings. It is also advised to visit the stadium in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the regular huge crowds.

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  • Consider purchasing your tickets in advance to avoid waiting in long queues at the entrance.
  • Wear comfortable shoes as you will have to walk and explore the huge stadium.
  • Plan to visit the stadium during the early hours to avoid the regular huge crowds.
  • The Panathenaic Stadium opening hours may vary due to special events, so it is advised to check their website before planning your visit.
  • The stadium hosts various exhibitions and concerts from time to time, you can check their website and make your bookings in advance.

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FAQs for Panathenaic Stadium

Which are the places to visit in Acropolis?

Some of the places to visit in Acropolis are:

  • Erechtheion: Built between 421 and 406 BC, Erechtheion is a mesmerizing ancient temple that is dedicated to Poseidon and Athena. This historic monument has served various purposes in the past, transforming to a church in the Byzantine era and a mosque during the Ottoman rule.
  • Parthenon: Nestled atop the Acropolis, Parthenon is a beautiful Doric temple that dates back to the 5th century BC. Adorned with stunning sculptures, this iconic monument showcases the brilliant architectural achievement of Greece. 
  • Benaki Museum: Built by Antonis Benakis back in 1930, Benaki Museum is home to an extensive collection of ancient and contemporary artwork. The museum showcases various art and artefacts including paintings, decorative arts, sculptures, and much more.
  • Lindos Acropolis: Nestled on Rhodes Island and dating back to the 4th century BC, Lindos Acropolis showcases a stunning blend of Hellenistic and Doric architecture. The temple is known to offer mesmerising views of the Aegean Sea.
  • Ancient Agora Of Athens: Dating back to the 6th century BC, the Ancient Agora Of Athens lies in the heart of Athens. Having served as a hub for public gatherings and democratic decision-making, this place showcases the city’s rich heritage and democratic roots.

Why was the Panathenaic Stadium built entirely of marble?

The Panathenaic Stadium is symbolic of Greece's rich heritage, with ancient Greeks honoring marble's purity, immortality, and divine qualities. Its construction with marble, which was abundant in Greece, testified to the craftsmanship and legacy of ancient Greek architects.

What does the Panathenaic Stadium have?

The Panathenaic Stadium boasts an iconic horseshoe-shaped seating area lined with 70 rows of white Pentelic marble. It also features a rectangular track of the same material in 204 m length and 33 m width. Additionally, the stadium has athletic rooms, tunnels, a marble tribune, and a pedestal honoring the 1896 Olympic Games.

Where is the Panathenaic Stadium located in Athens?

The Panathenaic Stadium is located in Pangrati, which lies at a short distance from the heart of Athens. Specifically, the stadium lies near the National Garden and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. The central location of the stadium makes it easily accessible for visitors.

What is the historical significance of the Panathenaic Stadium?

Having been originally built in the 4th century BC to host the Panathenaic Games, dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, the Panathenaic Stadium has great historical significance. Its significance also lies in the fact that it hosted the first ever modern Olympic Games in 1896, which was played to revive the age-old tradition of athletic competitions in Greece.

When was the Panathenaic Stadium originally built?

The Panathenaic Stadium was originally built in the 4th century BC to host the Panathenaic Games, which is an important athletic and cultural event, dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena. Built by the Athenian statesman Lycurgus, the stadium was initially made of wood.

How was the Panathenaic Stadium reconstructed in its current form?

The Panathenaic Stadium was reconstructed to its present form in 144 AD by Herodes Atticus. The reconstruction was done entirely with white Pentelic marble and the stadium was given a horseshoe-shaped architectural design that can accommodate 50,000 spectators at one time. It was again renovated for the Olympic Games in 1896.

Why is Panathenaic Stadium famous?

The Panathenaic Stadium is known popularly as one of the oldest stadiums in the world. The stadium is also famous for its unique horseshoe-shaped architectural design that can accommodate 50,000 spectators at one time. It is also known for hosting the first-ever modern Olympic Games in 1896.

What events and activities are held at the Panathenaic Stadium?

The Panathenaic Stadium is known popularly for hosting the first-ever modern Olympic Games in 1896. Though it does not host regular events, it holds special events at times, including the Olympic Flame Handover ceremony, historical and educational activities, sports exhibitions, and cultural performances.

How much does it cost to go to Panathenaic Stadium?

The general admission cost to the Panathenaic Stadium is 10€ (INR 905 approximately). Students and visitors above the age of 65 years can get the ticket to the stadium at 5€ (INR 453 approximately). Entry to the stadium is free for children under the age of 6 years, visitors with disabilities, and people accompanying the specially-abled visitors.

What is the best time to visit Panathenaic Stadium?

The most ideal time to visit the Panathenaic Stadium is during the spring and early autumn months, from April to June and September to October. The city's weather is cool and pleasant, perfect for enjoying outdoor activities.


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