Kallimarmaro (Panathinaiko Stadium) is a reconstructed ancient stadium and the only stadium in the world made entirely of marble. The marble used in the modern version is as close as possible to the degree of the marble in the ancient stadium.
Originally built in 330 BC for the Panathenaic festival, Kallimarmaro was gloriously restored in 144 AD by important Athenian and Roman senator Herodes Atticus. It’s possible his tomb is somewhere in the stadium. After the reconstruction it was able to hold 50,000 people. Athenians were very proud of their stadium, which was unrivaled in the ancient world.
Athletic games and gladiatorial duels were later forbidden in the 4th century due to the rise of Christianity, and Kallimarmaro fell into disuse. It was abandoned and sat under a field of wheat until it was finally excavated in 1869.
The stadium was reconstructed again in time for the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, where it held the opening and closing ceremonies along with several events. It witnessed a poor Greek water carrier, Spyros Louis, win the first modern Olympic marathon to become a national hero. The capacity at that time was 80,000, but it’s now down to a modest 45,000. It was also used in the 2004 Olympics as the finish for both the men’s and women’s marathons.
Kallimarmaro is massive, much bigger than I expected for an ancient stadium, and well worth a visit. Entry as of June 2016 is €5 and includes an audio guide, full access to the stadium, and a chance to run on the track. An event was being set up, so I wasn’t able to go onto the track.