PANATHENAIC STADIUM, PRESENTATION

Audio File length: 2.43
English / USA Language: English / USA

Hi, my name’s Rick, and I’m your personal guide. Along with MyWoWo, I’d like to welcome you to one of the Wonders of the World: the Panathenaic Stadium, or stadium of all Athenians.

In Ancient times, this natural basin was used for the horse races of the famous Panathenaic Games, also illustrated on the pediment of the Parthenon.

In 330 BC, the statesman Lykourgos had a 260-meter-long granite stadium built here, with stone benches around the 204-meter-long course.

This length of approximately 200 meters corresponded to an ancient Greek measurement, the Stadium, which since then has lent its name to sports fields.

 

Almost 500 years later, in around 144 AD, the stadium was rebuilt in marble by Herodes Atticus, a Roman consul of Athenian origin, with a capacity of 50,000, thus acquiring its alternative name of Kallimarmaron, meaning “beautiful marble” in Greek. It is the only sports stadium in the world made entirely of marble.

On the nearby Aredettos Hill, a temple was erected dedicated to Tyche, the goddess of fortune, who was also worshipped by the athletes taking part in the competitions. On the opposite hill, Herodes was buried.

As was the case with other monuments, the Romans made a number of modifications to the stadium so it could host events other than sports. On the parapets, grates were installed for wild animal hunts and gladiatorial contests. According to tradition, even the refined Emperor Hadrian is said to have organized a combat involving 1000 animals.

The stadium was abandoned after the rise of Christianity in the fourth century, but it was rediscovered in 1869, and in 1870 and 1875 hosted the Zappas Olympics, the first attempt to revive the ancient Olympic Games in the modern era, before they were officially founded in 1896.

Following the renovation work, the stadium hosted both the opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern-day Olympic Games in 1896, as well as 4 of the 9 sport competitions.

The new structure, a faithful copy of the original stadium, can today host up to 70,000 spectators.

 

Let me leave you with an interesting fact: take a look at the stands – in order to appear straight and parallel, they are actually slightly convex, an optical trick used by architects in Ancient times.

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