Monday, 1 May 2017

Panathenaic Stadium

The Panathenaic stadium is where athletic events wee held in Ancient Athens. So those ancient Olympians probably also had a run out here. This isn't the original stadium, but rather was rebuilt on the original site for th first Modern Olympics in 1896. Sadly the fine marble stadium restored at great expense by the Romans was largely mined to make lime in more modern times. 

Across the road (and a busy one) are a few suitably athletic looking statues.

As the stadium can be seen from the road, most tourists on a budget don't pay the entry fee to go in. Which is their loss as it is one of the very best sites in Athens.

Why it is their loss is not the lost opportunity to stand on the rostrum (please guys, if you are going to do so, dress for the occasion. Something more athletic than suit and tie?) Although you can run around the track, and for the more athletically minded (and bodied) that would make a great photo opportunity). But from the outside you don't get the sense of space. And the sheer beauty, as it is the only stadium in the world made of white pentellic marble. And it seats a very respectable 60,000. But also, with comparatively few visitors, compared to the Acropolis, it is very much more atmospheric.

The other thing you don't get from outside is the view. Well worth the precipitous climb.

Some of the steps really are precipitous. Wouldn't meet modern safety standards. But fine for 1896. Which leads me to another funny story. As I have mentioned in this blog many times, the Greeks don't seem to be great at completing things. And lo, they hadn't completed this stadium in time for the 1896 Olympics ether. They hadn't got all the marble in, so made do with wooden benches topped by white cushions. Well no one would notice would they?

This is the Royal Box.

 The tunnel is rather more than a modern one. Not something in concrete. It went into an ancient cave in the rocks.

 At the end of teh tunnel is a little exhibition room and lecture hall.

 The walls are covered in old Olympic posters. The earliest ones harked back to the ancient Olympics. The Swedish effort was, typically, a little too racy for international standards

 London a little more restrained, but definitely sporting.

Paris back to ancient ideals of manhood.

 But best ever Olympic poster, in my view, was London 1948. Classic. All the more modern ones are essentially abstracts. And all the worse for it.

Cradle for the Olympic flame

 And back on the other side of the stadium and up to the top again you get views across to the Acropolis.

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