The Panathinaiko Stadium, also called Kallimarmaron, is an impressive Athens stadium near the heart of the city, southeast of the Parliament Building and the National Garden. The Panathinaiko stadium dates back to ancient times, when it was a venue hosting athletic events for the Panathenaic Games. It was originally constructed primarily with wood, receiving an upgrade in 329 BC, when pentelic marble from the mountains north of Athens was used to renovate the stadium. The name, Kallimarmaron, means "beautifully marbled". This Athens stadium must have been impressive in its past, and it continues to impress visitors with its scale and history. While mankind has come so far since the stadium was first built, such monuments remind us that we share undeniable links to those who came before us.
We still enjoy the pageantry and excitement associated
with athletic competitions, and sports heroes serve as
icons and role models in today's society.
As the modern Olympics continue to enjoy worldwide acclaim
and popularity since their "re-birth" in 1896,
we can look back in history at venues like Kallimarmaron
and realize that maybe things haven't changed so
much since ancient times. Athens is often called
the birthplace of civilization, much in part due to the
fact that modern society is so influenced from the city's
past civil and social achievements. The Panathinaiko
Stadium is just one of the many relics found in Athens
that shows the greatness of past societies that have so
shaped the world we live in today.
The Athens stadium of Panathinaiko, after serving for years as a wood venue for the Panathenaic Games, was rebuilt in marble in 329 BC by the archon Lycurgus. In 140 AD, Herodes Atticus would produce the funds to both enlarge and further renovate the stadium. Herodes was a wealthy individual who funded public projects around Greece. His ancient theater, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, can also be found in Athens, and still holds concerts today. Long after Herodes passed, the Panathenaic Stadium would become neglected and remain out of use. That's until excavations and restorations funded by the wealthy Greek businessman, Evangelos Zappas, were carried out at Kallimarmaron in an effort to bring back the Olympic Games. The stadium, once used to host the Panathenaic Games, was set to become an Athens Olympic Stadium. Versions of the Olympic Games would be held at the stadium in 1870 and 1875. As Olympic fervor grew, another businessman, George Averoff, would fund more renovations to the Kallimarmaron Athens stadium, which would serve as the primary stadium for the Olympic Games in 1896.
The Panathinaiko Stadium saw a return to the glory of
its past, when in 2004 it was used once again as an Athens
Olympic stadium. Archery events would be hosted
here, and it served as the finishing point for the men's
and women's marathons. How far the stadium
had come since its inception as a venue for athletic events
during the Panathenaic Games, to use as an Olympic venue
in the 1800's. As an Olympic stadium Athens venue
in the most modern era, the Panathinaiko Stadium had managed
to hold its ground all these years.
The Panathenaic Games were part of the Panathenaia religious celebration honoring Athena, and the athletic events were held every four years. During the years that the games were held, the celebration was called the “Great Panathenaia”, and it lasted about 4 days longer than years when the games were not held. The games themselves were modeled after the Olympic Games and were interwoven with competitions in music and poetry. The original Olympic Games were celebrated in Olympia, Greece, beginning in 776 BC, and ending in 393 AD. Popular among Greece tours today, the ruins at Olympia can be found near Pyrgos on the Peleponnese peninsula.