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.

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.

Throughout the twentieth century the Panathenaic Stadium hosted diverse events, among them pan-Hellenic and international games.

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Vasileos Konstantinou Anevue, Athens

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