Athens Olympic Stadium: The history of an emblematic sports and cultural venue


The emblematic, but apparently “hurt” by time and negligence, Athens Olympic Stadium completed this September 41 years of operation and contribution to sports and culture.

The Athens Olympic Stadium (official name: Central Olympic Stadium) is located in Marousi, about 9 kilometers from the center of Athens. It is the largest capacity stadium in Greece and is part of the Athens Olympic Sports Center “Spyros Louis” (O.A.K.A.). Its purpose from the beginning was to give the possibility of hosting large events from Greece. In the past, it hosted the games of Olympiakos, Panathinaikos, AEK, and the Greek national team. This year it is used by the Panathinaikos team, but only in European competition games.

Its construction began in 1978 and was completed in 1982. It was inaugurated on September 8, 1982 by the then President of the Republic, Konstantinos Karamanlis. The construction company was the German Weidleplan with responsible architects H. Stalhout, Fr. Herre and Dimitrios Andrikopoulos. It had an initial capacity of 80,000 seated spectators. The stadium is named after Spyros Louis, the winner of the marathon in the first modern Olympic Games of 1896 who was a resident of the Amarousi area.

It has hosted the Pan-European Open Athletics Games (1982), the Mediterranean Games (1991), the World Open Athletics Championship (1997) and many matches of the Hellenic National Football Team, Olympiakos, A.E.K. and of Panathinaikos, which for some years used and continue to use it as their headquarters. The first football match held in it was the match between Olympiakos – Esters (2-0), on September 15, 1982 for the European Champions Cup[3].

It also hosted 3 finals of the European Champions Cup (1983, 1994, 2007) and the European Cup Winners’ Cup (1987). 26 Greek Cup finals have also been held (1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2009, 2010 , 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2022).

When Athens won the 2004 Olympic Games, the Olympic Committee decided to build a roof over the Olympic Stadium, which was undertaken by the office of Santiago Calatrava (who has also designed some of the Olympic facilities in Barcelona). During the preparation for the Olympics the stadium remained closed and, along with the canopy, received several more upgrades in terms of its capabilities, equipment, access and security. The opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games also took place in the stadium.

In the years 2005, 2006 and 2022 the stadium was renovated again and used as a super special for the Acropolis Rally of the World Championship. After its renovation for the Olympic Games and its current form, the Stadium holds 69,618 seated spectators.

Historical concerts

From time to time, the stadium hosts historical concerts of well-known Greek and foreign artists, with the first one by Dionysos Savvopoulos on September 19, 1983. Among others, the Rolling Stones, Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2, AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Guns N’ Roses have performed , Lady Gaga, Madonna. There have also been dedicated concerts with the participation of various artists, such as a tribute to Manos Loizos (1985), Melina Merkouri (1994), Lefteri Papadopoulos (2009). An example is the concert of the band Pyx Lax on July 13, 2011, which was attended by more than 70,000 spectators and was dedicated to the memory of Manos Xydos.

On September 30 and October 3, 1983, Giorgos Dalaras held two consecutive concerts at the stadium, gathering a total of more than 160,000 spectators. This is the biggest music event ever held in Greece. “Greek music is entering the arena of the big stages” commented Rolling Stone magazine, on the occasion of the Greek singer’s record. On September 28, 1987, Giorgos Dalaras held a third personal concert at the Olympic Stadium, filling it again.


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