From Balkan Beats, 18th edition
“A stadium built of marble, a great history inside.
The venue for a number of sporting events and concerts, the Panathenaic stadium is definitely a place to visit!
Also known as Kallimarmaro, which roughly translates to “beautiful marble”, the stadium sits in the centre of Athens. A tourist attraction that in the past has hosted thousands of fans, competitors, and sports commentators. Claimed to be the first modern Olympic games stadium, the ground is a magnificent view.
As two British tourists exploring Greece’s capital, we were lucky enough to have a friend and local to show us around. Kostas suggested the stadium to visit and we all went on an adventure, as it is in the centre it was easy to get to whilst also passing other tourist attractions such as parliament and the national gardens. I was unaware of Kallimarmaro and was pleasantly surprised when we got there, I stood in awe looking at this huge arena where so much history has taken place.
The information board near the arena explained to tourists the sheer size and impact the stadium has, with the first opening and closing ceremony being here in 1896. It had a capacity of 80,000 during this period and just imagining all those people there rendered me speechless, to think that all these people visited this place, and not only at that time but during the years after too.
But, possibly the most important point about this now tourist attraction is that inside there is a museum. Not just any old museum, a museum that holds all previous Olympic torches. A room is lined with the torches that many were fixated on, that thousands of people went to the streets to see, that millions sat in front of their televisions to watch. Not even on a national level, but on a global scale. The Guardian newspaper claimed that the opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympic Games was watched by, at its peak, 26.9 million people all waiting for the torch to enter. Now this same torch sits inside the museum along with a print of the official poster.
When I planned to visit Athens, I was completely unaware of this treasure and I would recommend anybody to go visit. There is an entry fee but I guarantee it is worth the money, plus if you have a student card you get a Reduced Admissions ticket!