Panathenaic Stadium | Racing Through Time in Athens

The Panathenaic Stadium, located in Athens, Greece, is an iconic symbol of ancient Greek history and culture. Originally constructed in the 4th century BC, the stadium was rebuilt with marble by the Roman statesman Herodes Atticus in 144 AD. Today, the grand horseshoe-shaped seating area can accommodate up to 50,000 spectators and is a popular tourist attraction.

The stadium's most prominent role came in 1896 when it hosted the first modern Olympic Games - a nod to the ancient Olympic Games held in Greece centuries prior. The stadium has since been used for various events including concerts and international sporting competitions. With its remarkable design and deep roots in ancient history, the Panathenaic Stadium remains an enduring symbol of the Olympic Games and the legacy of ancient Greece.

History of Panathenaic Stadium

History of Panathenaic Stadium
  • The Panathenaic Stadium was originally constructed in the 4th century BC for athletic contests during the Panathenaic Games.
  • The games were held every four years in honour of the Greek goddess Athena and were a crucial part of Greek culture for nearly 900 years, from the 6th century BC to the 2nd century AD.
  • The stadium underwent a major renovation in 144 AD when the Roman statesman Herodes Atticus funded its reconstruction in marble.
  • Over the centuries, the stadium has continued to play a significant role in Greek history, hosting many major events, including the first modern Olympic Games held in Athens in 1896.
  • Throughout history, the stadium has served many other purposes, including as a refuge for the homeless in the Middle Ages and as a military depot in the 18th century.
  • Today, the Panathenaic stadium is still an important cultural and historical monument and a site for a variety of events and activities, including concerts, sports events, and cultural festivals.

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Modern Reconstructions Of Panathenaic Stadium

Excavations and Zappas Olympics
Excavations and Zappas Olympics
  • The Panathenaic Stadium was excavated in the 19th century.
  • The stadium was restored and used for the Zappas Olympics in 1870 and 1875.
  • The Zappas Olympics were sponsored by Evangelos Zappas, a Greek-Romanian philanthropist.
  • The games aimed to revive the spirit of the ancient Olympics and encourage physical exercise among the Greek population.

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1896- The first Modern Olympic Games
1896- The first Modern Olympic Games
  • Major renovations were made to the Panathenaic Stadium in preparation for the first modern Olympic Games held in Athens in 1896.
  • The stadium was used for the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as for the track-and-field events of the games.
  • The 1896 Olympic Games marked the revival of the Olympic Games after a 1,500-year absence.
  • The success of these games paved the way for the international multi-sport event to become a recurring tradition.

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20th century Modern Olympics
20th century Modern Olympics
  • The Panathenaic Stadium was used for the 1906 Intercalated Games, an Olympic event that was held in Athens as a special edition.
  • The stadium was also used for the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics, for which it underwent extensive renovation and modernization.
  • During the 2004 games, the stadium was used for archery and the marathon finish, and it served as a symbol of the rich history of Greece and the Olympic movement.
  • The stadium remains an important cultural monument and tourist attraction.

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Stadium Today
Stadium Today
  • The Panathenaic Stadium is now primarily used as a symbolic cultural monument and a popular tourist attraction.
  • Visitors can still witness athletic events on the stadium's track, and the horseshoe-shaped seating area provides a stunning backdrop for concerts and festivals.
  • The stadium is open to the public for guided tours, and its extensive restoration and upkeep ensure that it remains a testament to the longevity of Greek culture and history.

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Fun Facts about the Panathenaic Stadium

Fun Facts About The Panathenaic Stadium
  • The Panathenaic Stadium is the only stadium in the world made from white marble.
  • It is the only stadium in the world that has hosted the Olympic Games twice, once in ancient and once in modern times.
  • The stadium's seating areas are made of 70 rows of marble seats in a horseshoe shape that can accommodate up to 50,000 spectators.
  • The original stadium had a wooden seating area and could accommodate around 30,000 people.
  • The shape of the stadium, its track and field design, and the location of the entrance are similar to those of ancient Roman stadiums.
  • The stadium has served many purposes throughout history, including as a military depot, a refuge for the homeless, and a venue for chariot races.
  • The Zappas Olympics, held in the stadium in 1870 and 1875, imitated the ancient Olympic Games and aimed to promote the physical exercise of Greek youth.
  • The stadium is also known as the Kallimarmaro Stadium, which means, "beautifully marbled."
  • Greek runner Spyridon Louis won the marathon during the 1896 Olympics, which began and ended at the Panathenaic Stadium.
  • The stadium is featured on the 2004 Athens Olympics €1 commemorative coin.

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Know Before You Go Panathenaic Stadium

How To Reach
How To Reach

By Bus - Several bus routes connect Syntagma Square to the stadium, including bus numbers 200, 550, A2, B2, and X14. The stadium is approximately 1.5 km (1 mile) away from Syntagma Square bus stop, and the bus ride takes around 10-15 minutes depending on the route.

By Walk - For those who prefer to walk, it takes around 20 minutes to walk from Syntagma Square to the stadium. The distance is around 1.6 km (1 mile), via Vasilissis Sofias Avenue and Panepistimiou Avenue. 

By Taxi - Taxis are readily available throughout the city center, and it generally takes around 5 to 10 minutes from Syntagma Square to the stadium via taxi, depending on traffic. The distance is approximately 1.5 km (1 mile).

By Metro - The stadium is around 1.5 km (1 mile) from Syntagma metro station, which is located in the heart of the city center. It takes around 17 minutes to reach the stadium from the Syntagma metro station on walking.

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

Best Time to Visit - The best time to visit the Panathenaic Stadium is during the spring and autumn months, from March to May and September to November. The weather is mild, and there are fewer crowds, making it easier to explore the stadium at a more leisurely pace. Visitors can also avoid the intense heat of the summer months, which can make spending time outdoors uncomfortable.

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Which are the places to visit in Acropolis?

    Roman Forum of Athens: The Roman Forum of Athens is located to the east of the Acropolis of Athens and was the center of civic life during the Roman period. The site features ancient ruins such as the Tower of the Winds and the Gate of Athena Archegetis.

    Parthenon: The Parthenon is the most iconic building on the Acropolis and has come to symbolize the achievements of ancient Greek architecture. The temple was constructed to honor the goddess Athena and is renowned for its exceptional beauty and precise symmetry.

    Benaki Museum: The Benaki Museum is located near the Acropolis and is home to a vast collection of ancient Greek art, including ceramics, sculptures, and jewelry. The museum also features exhibits of Byzantine art and tradition and artifacts from the ancient Egyptian and Islamic worlds.

    Propylaia: Propylaia is the magnificent gateway leading to the Acropolis and was built by the architect Mnesicles in the 5th century BC. The structure features a grand central stairway leading visitors to the Acropolis proper.

    Temple of Hephaestus: The Temple of Hephaestus is located in the ancient Agora of Athens, one of the oldest and most significant archaeological sites in Greece. The temple is renowned for its sturdy and well-preserved design and its exceptional statuary art.

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