1st Olympic Games, 1896. A photograph of the interior of the Panathenian Stadium before the start of the Games.

The Panathenaic Stadium (in Greek: Panathinaiko Stadio, meaning "stadium of all the Athenians") is also known as Kallimarmaro (which means "made of fine marble").

The Panathenaic Stadium hosted the 1st Olympic Games of the modern era, in 1896. However, its history goes way past the 19th century AD...

The site of the Panathenaic Stadium was originally a small natural valley, between the two hills of Agra and Ardettos, over Ilissos river. It was transformed into a stadium by Lykourgos in 330-329 BC for the athletic competitions of "Panathinea", the greatest festivities in ancient Athens.

Between 140 and 144 AD, Herodes Atticus restored the Stadium, giving it the form that was found at the 1870 excavation: the horseshoe construction with a track 204.07 meters long and 33.35 meters wide. It is believed that the Stadium had a seating capacity of 50,000 people.

In the Roman times, the Stadium was used as an arena, with the addition of a semicircular wall to the north.

The modern times restoration of the Stadium was conducted by G. Averof at the end of the 19th century, for the first Olympic Games that were reborn in 1896. The Stadium was rebuilt with marble from Mt Penteli, the same kind that was used 2,400 years before, for the construction of the Parthenon on the Acropolis. It could now hold over 60,000 spectators. The total cost was 1 million GrDrahmas, a huge amount of money in those days.

The Panathenaic Stadium (owned by the Greek Olympic Committee) is now mainly a tourist attraction and is used only in special events. It will, however, be used in the 2004 Olympics; the marathon race will finish there (following the tradition of the 1st Olympics). Also, the finals of archery will take place in the Stadium.

The Panathenaic Stadium today