An Olympic Stadium and an Olympic Museum

Athens is a city that is crammed full of history. Trip over a pothole and you’re bound to discover an ancient treasure. On a rare grey day in the Greek city, I paid a visit to the Panathenaic Stadium (Panathenaic means ‘all Athens’ or ‘all Athenian’). Now, this stadium looks like it could be ancient and in a way it kind of is. It’s a reconstruction of an ancient stadium. In its former existence, it was the site of the Panathenaic games, which were held in honour of the goddess Athena.

As we learned at the Acropolis Museum, Athena was a Boss.

Finished in 1896, the revamped stadium hosted the first modern Olympic Games and in 2004 when the games came back to Greece, the stadium was the place to see the Archery and who won the marathon.

Nestled away in the stadium’s tunnels is a small museum. This museum, naturally, explores the Olympics. As a museum, it’s slightly unusual. Apart from an Olympic altar (brazier? Cauldron?) it only has two types of things on display; Olympic Torches and Olympic Posters.

Let me tell you this – it is very difficult to take a decent picture of an Olympic torch. The posters on the other hand… well, it’s easier.

The London 2012 poster and Olympic Torch

London 2012!

Even if the one from Mexico hurts your eyes…

The Mexico 1968 Olympic games poster

The Mexico 1968 Olympic games poster

One thing that I felt was sorely lacking in the stadium and in the museum was any mention (at all) of Much Wenlock, and the Wenlock Olympian Games which had a huge impact in getting the Olympic movement going again. The first Wenlock Olympic Games took place in 1850, 46 years before the one in Athens, but these games are utterly absent from a museum that supposedly tells the story of the modern Olympics. I realise that the museum wants to focus on the role of the stadium, but surely Much Wenlock warrants a footnote at least?

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