Panathenaic Stadium
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Panathenaic Stadium was the witness of the eventful history of Athens. It survived the times of its glory when welcoming the best athletes of the antiquity, and its decline, when stayed abandoned for a long time. After the renovation, Panathenaic Stadium turned in one of the most popular attractions of the Greek capital.

Panathenaic Stadium History

Panathenaic Stadium is the only construction in the world, built of marble. Sometimes, people regard it as “Kalimarmaro Stadium.” The history of the Panathenaic Stadium began in the IV BC. According to the historic sources, it was established on the place of the horse-course, between the hills of Ardittus and Agra. People used it to arrange the Panathenaic Games. 
Lycurgus of Athens was a person, supervising the construction of the stadium. Only the privileged people had the right to take a seat at the stadium. The area of the stadium was expanded during the times of Herodes Atticus. This outstanding personality spent a part of his life’s savings to build numerous buildings in the city. In the course of its renovation, the stadium got the form of a horse-shoe. During its construction, the workers used a minimum of concrete.
Later, the stadium was equipped with about 50.000 marble seats for visitors. They also constructed a monumental staircase, leading to the Ardittus Hill. The hill hosted the temple of Tyche, the goddess of chance, luck, and fortune. Her statue was made of ivory. The staircase is the only component that survived until the present day.
The Athenians were much proud of the Panathenaic Stadium. The ancient sources state that there were no buildings in Athens that could compete with it. Nevertheless, with the spread of Christianity and the prohibition of all pagan things, the stadium started to lose its glory. Over the years, Panathenaic Stadium was in a poor state: it was abandoned. Its excellent marble was taken away for the construction of other buildings in Athens. The European travelers wrote about “magical rites, performed by the Athenian girls to attract a good husband.”
The ruins of the Panathenaic Stadium were found only in the first half of the XIX century. It was the period when the archaeologists began excavations in the area. These works were financed by the famous sponsor, Evangelos Zappas. The more significant contribution was made by the merchant Georgios Averoff. You can see the statue, dedicated to this outstanding man, in front of the stadium. Thanks to his financial contributions, the stadium could host the first Olympic Games of modern times in the summer of 1896. 
During the excavations and the works on the reconstruction of the stadium, the researchers have found a lot of interesting objects apart from the staircase leading to the temple:

  • The secondary (concealed) entry to Panathenaic, built during the rule of Lycurgus;
  • The necropolis, sitting by the foot of the Ardettos Hill found in the course of renovation of the stadium in 2004;
  • A sarcophagus with a skeleton (presumably, of Herodes Atticus). 

In the XX century, Panathenaic Stadium enjoyed the period of renovation. It hosted not only the Olympic Games but also basketball matches, archery competitions, political events, concerts, and festivals. The depiction of the Panathenaic Stadium adorns the 100 EURO coin, issued in 2003 году.
The site is a popular place among travelers. It regularly welcomes plenty of excursions, which are a part of the Athens sightseeing tour. It significantly differs from the rest of modern stadiums: it has a prolonged horse-shoe shape and rounded corners. The thing is that the workers kept on to the ancient canons during its reconstruction. In the course of excavations on the territory of Panathenaic Stadium, the researchers have found the columns with the heads of Hermes and Apollo.
You will remember a visit to this site due to many reasons. Apart from its age, this landmark impresses its visitors with specially developed programs. Any visitor can complete an application to take part in a race at the legendary Panathenaic Stadium, get a certificate, and take a picture against its background.
Travelers are also offered to use an audio-guide (20 minutes), to admire the museum’s collection for free, take a picture at the medals stand for winners, and feel themselves a part of history.

The stadium boasts a convenient location among the most popular Athens attractions: the Benaki Museum, Zappeion Conference & Exhibition Center, and Athens War Museum. There are several ways to reach it:

  • By T4 or T5 tram, to the stop Zappeio;
  • Using the №209 and 505 buses, to the bus stop Stadio;
  • Via Athens Metro, to the station Acropolis, Syntagma or Evangelismos. Each of them sits 1 kilometer from the stadium.