Originally built in the 1980s for the European Athletics Championships, the Olympic Athletic Center of Athens (OAKA) was remodeled by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava for the 2004 Olympics. The largest stadium in Greece, with 70,000 seats, the Olympic Stadium hosts events and concerts by major international acts such as U2 and Lady Gaga. The Basics
The Olympic Stadium is named for Greek athlete Spiros Louis, winner of the 1896 marathon.
Stadium renovations took place over the course of two years, when Athens was working hard to rebuild and modernize its infrastructure in anticipation of the 2004 games. A gargantuan, earthquake-proof roof was added, and a thermophile lawn with an inbuilt irrigation system was grown. Today, most people come here for concerts and sporting events. Unless you have tickets, the only way to visit the stadium is as part of a group tour organized ahead of time.
Things to Know Before You Go
- OAKA is a must-visit for sports fans.
- The center is open for group tours (of over 15 people) with advance reservation; smaller groups or individuals must join a tour to visit.
- The Olympic Stadium is not to be confused with the Panathenaic Stadium, constructed in the fourth century BC and used for early Olympic Games, 15 minutes away.
How to Get There
OAKA is located about a half-hour drive northeast of Syntagma Square. Numerous buses stop nearby, and the Neratziotissa train station is a 7-minute walk from the stadium. The Eirini station on line 1 of the Athens Metro is also nearby.When to Get There
Visiting OAKA requires advance planning: You either need to join a tour, have a group of 15 people and set up a tour, or visit for a concert or sporting match. Plan ahead if you want to attend an event, or look into booking a group tour for a more in-depth experience.
The Olympic Games in Greece
The Olympic Games began in the 11th century BC in Greece as a festival dedicated to the god Zeus. The first modern Olympics were held in Athens in 1896 in the Panathenaic Stadium, a 4th-century BC stadium which was restored for the games. The 2004 games were only the second Olympics ever held in the country.