About The Store 1896 – the Official Panathenaic Stadium Museum Shop. From our online store, you can buy memorabilia, all inspired by Greek history and culture and related to the Olympic Games, sports and the Marathon Race. All products are certified and approved by the Hellenic Olympic Committee and can only be purchased either through our online store www.1896.gr or in our shop, which is hosted in The Panathenaic Stadium in the city of Athens, Greece.
2500 Years of History
Τhe Panathenaic Stadium (also known as Kallimarmaro) has hosted games similar to today’s athletics competitions since the ancient times and for many-many years. However, athletes (only male) competed nude! That is why they games were called “gymnikoi agones”. In 566/565BC the games were included in the Panathenaia festival programme.
Athenian statesman Lykourgos built a stadium on the site in 338 BC, as part of a series of public works that he carried out. It was a 260m long stadium of limestone, while stone benches were placed around the track. In fact, the stadium was built on private land, offered to the state by its owner, Deinias.
All the works which took place transformed the land into a typical Greek stadium. Its shape was parallelogram, with an entrance on one side. The spectators’ seats were located on the slopes of the other three sides. The stadium built by Lykourgos was first used in 330/29 BC, during the Great Panathenaia Festival.
The city of Athens lost its glory during the Roman times. However, between AD 117 and 138 artistic and intellectual activity flourished. In this context Herodes, an orator and sophist, erected many impressive buildings in different parts of the Roman Empire. It was because of Herodes that big changes transformed the Stadium in AD 139 and 144. There were two major changes. Firstly, the shape of the stadium changed from rectilinear into a horseshoe one. Secondly, the theatron was installed. This was a space with rows of seats (made of marble) for spectators. On the track, marble slabs marked the starting and finishing lines (aphesis and terma).
In order to access the Stadium from the city you had to use a triple-arched bridge, made of marble. Statues of marble, bronze and gold decorated the space. On the summit of Ardettos you could find the temple of the goddess Tyche.
Everything changed when Christianity prevailed. Pagan celebrations were prohibited, including gladiatorial duels and wild beast contests. It was during that time that the Panathenaic Stadium lost its former glory. In the years to come, nothing reminded people of the splendid stadium of the past.
In 1836, archaeological excavations uncovered traces of the ancient Stadium and in 1869 architect Anastasis Metaxas prepared its reconstruction plans. The Stadium was rebuilt from marble and was inspired by the ancient monument.
At the end of the 19th Century, many travellers (especially from Europe) visited the Stadium during their travels in Athens. At the same time, in 1870 and 1875, the Zappeion Olympiads were organized, which included games. The event was sponsored by E. Zappas, the Nation’s benefactor. It was then that the idea to revive the Olympic Games emerged.
But at the end, it was the French Baron Pierre de Coubertin who brought this idea into life. He was an aristocrat with Classic education and a great love for Ancient Greece and the Ancient Olympic Games. In 1894 he organized the International Olympic Conference in Paris. The president of the Conference was the Greek Demetrios Vikelas. It was him who persuaded the rest of the delegates that the first Olympic Games of the modern era had to take place in Athens, in 1896.
The rest of the delegates finally agreed. The Panathenaic Stadium was later chosen to host the 1896 Olympic Games. Georgios Averoff, another benefactor of the Nation, largely undertook the cost of reconstructing the Stadium to welcome the world. It was a huge event for the Greek people!
The opening ceremony of the first Olympic Games took place on 25 March 1896 and concluded on 3 April. They were a huge success! The Greek athlete Spyros Louis became the hero of the Games, since he won the very important Marathon race. Crowds actually went crazy when he crossed the finishing line!
It was in the Panathenaic Stadium that the Olympic Anthem was heard for the first time. Its lyrics were written by Greek poet Costis Palamas, while its music was composed by the Greek composer Spyros Samaras.
108 years later, the Olympic Games returned to Athens, the place in which they were born. During the Athens 2004 Games, the archery contest took place at the Kallimarmaro. It was also the finishing point of the Marathon race of the Games.
So this is the Panathenaic Stadium! An ornament for the city of Athens since Antiquity. A symbol of fair play, nobleness and history.
The Store 1896 is the Official online collectible Store of the Panathenaic Stadium (Kallimarmaro).
The Panathenaic Stadium is owned by the Hellenic Olympic Committee, which administers, manages and ensures the maintenance of its facilities. The Hellenic Olympic Committee works to develop, promote and protect the Olympic Movement, sport, fair play and extracurricular physical education, according to the principles of the Olympic ideals and the traditions of Greek sport. It also supervises Olympic athletes and works with the government, the public and different private organizations to promote sport policy. It aims to encourage the love for sport and respect for the sporting spirit among young people.
In collaboration with the various national federations, it oversees the preparation of Greek athletes. It has the sole responsibility for the final selection of athletes to represent Greece at the Olympic and Mediterranean Games.