Celebrating Olympic Athens

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The Olympics return later this year for their 55 th instalment, this time in mesmeric Rio. However, wherever in the world the Olympics are held, they will always be firmly linked to Greece and its capital Athens. Although the ancient games were held in Olympia, a sanctuary in the Greek district of Elis, the first ever modern Olympic games were completed in Athens in 1896. Ancient Greek culture is sewn throughout the Olympic games, with the term ‘Olympians’ literally meaning those who reside on Mount Olympus – the mythical home of the Greek gods. So what better way to celebrate the upcoming games by paying tribute and visiting the Olympic sites in stunning Athens?

Panathenaic Stadium

Rebuilt for the 1896 Olympic games from the remains of an ancient Greek sporting venue, the Panathenaic Stadium is the only stadium in the world which is built entirely from marble. Although it held 80,000 spectators in its heyday, the Panathenaic Stadium can currently boast a capacity of 45,000, and is still regularly used as a venue for a number of sporting, music and celebratory events. When Athens hosted the 2004 Olympic Games, the Panathenaic Stadium was the venue for the archery, and provided the finishing line of the Marathon.

Bay of Zea

Considerably more old school than modern Olympic swimming pools, the Bay of Zea hosted the swimming events in the 1896 games. A broad bay with a seaport and marina, the Bay of Zea may not see much swimming action today, but it’s a beautiful place to sit with a cold glass of beer and longingly stare at yachts and tanned millionaires.

Athens Lawn Tennis Club 

Founded in 1895, just a year before hosting the racket games in the first modern Olympic games, the Athens Lawn Tennis Club is still going strong. Now blessed with courts for both tennis and squash, the Athens Lawn Tennis Club is an ace place for a few sets on a warm Greek afternoon – and is located to a couple of sites built for the 2004 games, the Olympic Velodrome and Olympic Athletic Center of Athens.

Kallithea

The original Olympic Village, Kallithea was extended in 1894, extending to house many of the events and athletes of the original modern games. The coastal municipality is the fourth largest in Athens (and the eighth largest in the entire of Greece), and hosted a number of the 2004 Olympic games events, including the handball, Taekwondo and beach volleyball. If you visit Kallithea,

Zappeion

Not only does the Zappeion have a truly wonderful name, it was used as the main fencing hall in the 1896 games and is located within the National Gardens of Athens. The beautiful conference and exhibition centre is still in use to this day, and was recently selected as the main motif for the €100 Greek commemorative coin. Athens is just one of the hundreds of beautiful destinations which can be explored as part of a cruise trip aboard some of the world’s best loved cruise ships. For a huge range of deals, visit the Cruise1st homepage or call our dedicated team today on 0800 230 0655.

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Claire Wilde

Claire has worked in the travel industry since leaving college in 1994. One of this blog's most regular contributors, Claire covers cruise news and industry trends.

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