Panathenaic Stadium – Opening and Closing Ceremonies

The Panathinaiko or Panathenaic Stadium (Greek: Παναθηναϊκό στάδιο), also known as the Kallimarmaro (Καλλιμάρμαρο, i.e. the “beautifully marbled”), is an athletic stadium inAthens that hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. Reconstructed from the remains of the ancient Greek stadium, the Panathinaiko is the only major stadium in the world built entirely of white marble (from Mount Penteli).

The Panathenaic Stadium is a classical cultural and touristic monument of Greece and one of the most significant monuments not only for Athens, but for the whole Greece.

It is one of our city’s most popular touristic attractions and one of Athens’ landmarks.

Its rich history is directly connected to the Modern Olympic Games as from their revival in 1896 until the Athens Olympic Games in 2004. It is also the place from where the Olympic flame sets up its journey to the cities of the Olympic Games, both Winter, Summer and Youth.


The Panathenaic Stadium is located on the site of an ancient stadium and for many centuries hosted games in which nude male athletes competed (gymnikoi agones) in track events, athletics championships as we would call them today. The games, which since antiquity had been held in an area far from the city, were included in the programme of the Panathenaia festival celebrations in 566/565 BC. When the orator Lykourgos assumed responsibility for the finances of Athens, in 338 BC, he included in the public works carried out in the city the building of a Stadium. The ravine running between Ardettos Hill and the low height opposite, extra muros of the city and in an idyllic setting on the verdant banks of the River Ilissos, was deemed to be an ideal location. This was private land but its owner, Deinias, conceded it to the State for the construction of a Stadium. Major earth-removal works transformed the ravine into a space for contests, with the features of the Greek stadium: parallelogram shape with entrance at one narrow end and room for the spectators on the earth slopes of the other three sides. Lykourgos’ stadium was used for the first time during the celebration of the Great Panathenaia in 330/29 BC, when games in which nude athletes competed were held.

In Roman times the city of Athens was no longer a political power. However, it enjoyed a new intellectual and artistic heyday in the reign of Emperor Hadrian, between AD 117 and 138. In this period, the orator and sophist Herodes son of Atticus spent part of his vast fortune on erecting splendid buildings in many sanctuaries and cities of the Roman Empire. Thanks to the generosity of Herodes, significant works were carried out in the Stadium between AD 139 and 144, which resulted in two main changes to the initial form: the conversion of the original rectilinear shape to horseshoe shape by adding the sphendone, characteristic form of Greek stadia in Roman times, and the installation in the space for spectators, thetheatron, of rows of seats (edolia) of white Pentelic marble. A vaulted passage under the east retaining wall terminated at the back of the Stadium. On the track (stibos), marble slabs demarcated the starting line (aphesis) and the finishing line (terma). Integral elements of the track were the bifacial herms. The entrance acquired a propylon in the Corinthian order. A triple-arched marble bridge spanning the Ilissos secured easy access to the Stadium from the city. The whole space, and primarily the portico at the level of the sphendone, was adorned with statues of marble, bronze and even gold. The temple of the goddess Tyche/Fortuna, housing the ivory cult statue of the goddess, had been built on the summit of Ardettos. The Athenians were justly proud of the Panathenaic Stadium, which was unrivalled in the world. For many years, the tomb of Herodes dominated the hilltop left of the entrance.

With the prevailing of Christianity and the prohibiting of pagan celebrations and the barbarous spectacles of Roman times, such as bloody gladiatorial duels and contests with wild beats, the Panathenaic Stadium lost its glory. As time passed it presented a sad picture of dereliction, as the splendid marbles were incorporated into Athenian buildings and fed the limekilns in its vicinity. European travellers, mainly, visited its site, as emerges from their testimonies, in which they also give accounts of the magical rites enacted by young Athenian maidens in the ruined vaulted passage, aimed at finding a good husband.

Among the first attempts to revive the idea of the Olympic Games were the games organized in the Panathenaic Stadium in 1870 and 1875, on the occasion of the Zappeian Olympiads, exhibitions of Greek products with sponsorship from the benefactor of the Nation, Evangelis Zappas. This idea was brought to fruition by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, a French aristocrat with a sound classical education, who organized the International Olympic Conference in Paris, in 1894. President of the Conference and plenipotentiary of the Panhellenic Gymnastics Association was Demetrios Vikelas, who persuaded the delegates that the first modern Olympic Games should be held in the Greek capital in 1896. The Panathenaic Stadium was chosen to host the Olympic Games and was the epicentre of the city’s preparations for this major event. The enormous expense of reconstructing the Stadium was undertaken largely by another benefactor of the Nation, Georgios Averoff. His marble portrait statue, to the right of the entrance to the Stadium, was carved by the sculptor Georgios Vroutos.

From as early as 1836, archaeological excavation had uncovered traces of the ancient Stadium of Herodes Atticus, and on the basis of these findings, as well as of the finds from the excavations conducted by Ernst Ziller in 1869, the plan for its reconstruction was prepared by the architect Anastasis Metaxas. The rebuilding of the Stadium from Pentelic marble is distinguished by its high degree of fidelity to the ancient monument of Herodes.

The first modern Olympic Games commenced on 25 March and concluded on 3 April, and were a resounding success. The victor in the Marathon race, the most popular contest, was the Greek Spyros Louis. It was in the Panathenaic Stadium that the Olympic Hymn was heard for the first time, with lyrics by poet Costis Palamas and music by composer Spyros Samaras. Throughout the twentieth century the Panathenaic Stadium hosted diverse events, among them pan-Hellenic and international games. In the Athens 2004 Olympic Games it experienced moments of suspense and emotion during the archery contests and as the finishing line of the Marathon race. A creation of the Athenians, as its name proudly proclaims, the Panathenaic Stadium has been the venue for noble competition and fair play, of mind and of body, since Antiquity.


Hours of operation :
March – October: 08:00 – 19:00 last ticket sold at 19:00
November – February: 08:00 – 17:00 last ticket sold at 17:00
Suggested visit hours: during morning and evening hours

Adults 3,00 €
Students ticket (for students –individual students and seniors over 65 year old) 1,50 €
School students with their teachers free entrance
For infants under 6 years of age free entrance

Audio GuideTour:
The audio guide tour is available in 10 languages (Greek, English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Arabic)

Vasileos Konstantinou Avenue (opposite the statue of Myron Discobolus)
Athens 116 35

Office hours:
Monday to Friday 7:30 a.m. – 14:30 p.m.. (except holidays)
Archmidous 16, Pangrati
Athens 116 35

General info: + 30 210 75 22 984-6
Fax: + 30 210 75 26 386

If you represent a tourist office or a group of more than 20 persons, click here

Click here to download our brochure


The Panathenaic Stadium is ideally located in downtown Athens, just 1000m from the “Syntagma”, “Acropolis” and “Evangelismos” metro stations.

You can get there by metro, bus, taxi or even walk.

Local Transport:


Red 550

Green 90, 209

Yellow 2, 4, 10, 11

Metro stations:




To find directions on Google, search ‘Vasileos Konstantinou Avenue, Athens’.


• Automatic audio guide: included in the price of the ticket. Upon entering the grounds, each visitor receives an audio guide device. The audio tour is available in 10 languages (Greek, English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Arabic, Russian, Chinese and Japanese) and lasts approximately 20 minutes. The audio guide provides each visitor with a personal ‘guide’ through the site and the history of the Stadium.
• Brochure: Visitors receive a brochure containing information about the Stadium provided in three languages (Greek, English and French).
• Pedestal: inside the stadium there is the winner’s podium on which visitors can take a special commemorative photo with the stadium for background and feel like one of the great athletes of the Games.
• Coffee: there is a coffee shop operating by the Panathenaic Stadium’s entrance, where visitors can have refreshments or a quick snack.
• Morning jogging: from 07:30 until 09:00. Application form.
• Toilets: the toilets are located to the right of the entrance to the Stadium next to the cafe.

The audio tour informs the visitors on the Stadium’s rich history, the history of its construction and its reconstruction, its architecture and location, and also the role that the Stadium has played on many significant moments in Sports and culture of Greece. There is also particular reference to the Olympic Games, that are closely related to the Panathenaic Stadium.

Following the route indicated by the 12 points of interest in the Stadium, the visitor has the chance of a journey to its rich history…

Use of the Panathenaic Stadium

At the request of the Organizing – Executive Committee of the World Summer Games Special Olympics – Athens 2011 for the concession to use the Stadium on June 25 and July 4, 2011, in order to make the opening and closing ceremonies of the World Games Special Olympics – Athens 2011, approved by the Central Archaeological Council, the meeting of February 1. The establishment of a central idea of ​​opening and closing ceremonies took artistic team Evangelinou Phocas, who was named winner of the open tender held by the Organizing Committee Special Olympics World Games ATHENS 2011…. Read Article »




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