The Secret History Of Royal Olympic Hotel Athens
Royal Olympic Hotel Athens as we know them today took place for the first time in 1896 in Athens, but the first sports competitions date back to the 8th century BC.
If Athens is known for anything, in addition to its historical and artistic wealth, it is for being the site of the first Olympic Games of the Modern Era in 1896. All thanks to Baron Pierre de Coubertin, French historian, and pedagogue, who, during a Congress at the Sorbonne University in Paris, proposed to unite athletes from all over the world in the same event and thus recover the spirit of Olympia. His proposal was successful and from the end of the 19th century to the present day, they are celebrated every four years, with the exception of those that coincided with the two world wars.
But the Olympic Games were not the beginning of sports competitions. The first date from the 8th century BC. Almost three thousand years ago, athletes from different Greek cities met every four years or, rather, every Olympiad, as that period of time was called, to compete in various modalities. The first recorded competition dates back to 776 B.C. and it was held in the city of Olympia, almost 300 kilometers from Athens.
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Although it later spread to other cities such as Delphi, Corinth and Nemea, the birthplace of the Games is in this city in the Peloponnese. The Olympia archaeological site, located in the Alfiós Valley, was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1989. In the Altis sanctuary the sports facilities of the ancient games are preserved. There you can visit the stadium where the first sports competitions were held 2,800 years ago and the gymnastics where athletes trained and the Temple of Zeus, in honor of which the competition was held.
Mythology and history are mixed at the origin of the Games, but it is believed that they arose to unite the Greek people, dispersed in city-states, and to honor the god Zeus. In fact, the name of Olympia comes from the sacred mountain of Olympus, where the god of thunder lived. A week before and another after the Olympic ceremony a truce was established in any warlike conflict in the country. This pause was known as ‘ekekheiria’ and was transmitted well in advance by the ‘spongiform’ or messengers. The modalities in which they competed were different: discus and javelin throws, wrestling, or horse racing were some of them.
The victors were proclaimed heroes and their support was borne by the city for life. When they reached their home towns, they were introduced through a hole in the wall. This was closed quickly so that the triumph did not escape and, in this way, they dedicated the success achieved to Zeus. To discover more about the competition’s past, you can visit the Museum of the History of the Ancient Olympic Games, also in Olympia, where several of the objects used by athletes of the time are displayed, from the vases where they kept their oils to elements used in your training, such as weights or hoops.
Twelve centuries had to pass to see this type of sports competition again. The first Olympic Games took place at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens. It is one of the most visited monuments today and was built in the same place as in 330 B.C. The Panateneas competitions were celebrated, the festivities in honor of the goddess Athena. 241 athletes representing 14 countries participated. In the following Olympics, Paris 1900, there were 997. The Games returned to Athens in 2004, with 10,625 participants and a display of means that would have conquered all the gods of Olympus.
One city, two stadiums
During the 2004 Olympics, the Panathenaic Stadium hosted fencing events and was the finish line for the marathon. The rest of the sports competitions took place at the “Spyros Louis” Olympic Stadium in Athens, inaugurated in 1982. It had previously hosted the Athletics World Championship in 1997. It has also hosted the Champions League final of the UEFA on more than one occasion.
The Olympic torch
In Greek culture, the fire was a sacred element and in front of the main temples there was always one lit, also in the sanctuary of Olympia. This tradition was recovered at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics and at the 1936 Berlin Olympics the march carrying the torch from the ruins of the temple of Hera in Olympia to the Olympic Stadium in the host city was organized for the first time.