Ancient Olympic Stadium Greece
One of the must-see monuments in the ancient Acropolis of Rhodes is the ancient Olympic Stadium. Back in the time of the Ancient Greeks, competitive sport was a way of life for many. It played a key role in their cultural identity and the whole city would gather in the stadium to enjoy hours of entertainment, including early versions of the Olympic games. Today, you can step inside the ancient remains of the Olympic Stadium, sit on the stone seats surrounding the heart of the arena and immerse yourself in the rich history of the Acropolis.
History of the Olympic Stadium
The Olympic Stadium is next to the Temple of the Apollo in the Acropolis of Rhodes. While you’re exploring the ancient archaeological site, you’ll come across lots of monuments, including the Odeon, the Stoa Building, the Nymphaeums and the Temple of Athena Polias and Zeus Polieus.
Back when the Olympic Stadium, Rhodes, was in its prime, athletes would compete for fame and glory. Onlookers sat on the stone seats that encircle the floor of the stadium and watched Olympians participate in a range of different sports. The Haleion Games were once hosted here, a very important event held in honour of the god Helios.
What will you see inside the Stadium?
Although it’s thousands of years old, the Olympic Stadium is so well preserved that it’s easy to imagine what it looked like when gladiators and talented athletes graced the centre stage. Most Greek stadiums at the time were a similar size at around 200m with the course being around 185m long. This gave athletes plenty of space to compete without feeling too confined within the stadium grounds.
When you visit the stadium today, you’ll get to walk around and explore the remains, including rows of stone seat surrounding the central arena. Original surviving features of the stadium include the rounded ends of the track and the Proedries. With the best views in the house, it’s thought these seats were where the officials would have sat to enjoy the events. You’ll even get to see the starting apparatus that was used for athletic events.
Although the stadium was primarily used for sporting events, it wasn’t unusual for combat and chariot racing events to be held in the Olympic Stadium too.
How to get to the Olympic Stadium
You can find the ancient stadium on the edge of Rhodes Town. If you’re staying in a hotel in town, you can just walk to the site without much hassle. It’s just 2km southwest of the Old Town and easy to find as you’ll see lots of signs directing you to its location on the slopes of Monte Smith hill.
Alternatively, you can take the city bus 5 to the Acropolis of Rhodes and save your energy for exploring the ancient monuments. When you arrive, make your way to the southeast side of the hill and you’ll find the Olympic Stadium.
As the stadium’s open all year round, you don’t have to plan your holiday around the best time to visit; unless you want to organise your trip around the weather. Just be aware that there’s limited shade in the stadium. There are olive trees around the site but they don’t provide a lot of shade. You can avoid the heat of the midday sun by getting there early in the morning or later in the day.
Since you’ll be doing a lot of walking as you explore the Olympic Stadium in Rhodes, it’s a good idea to swap the flip-flops for a comfortable pair of walking shoes or trainers. When you arrive, you’ll be given free rein to explore as you please. There aren’t many restrictions to stop you from seeing the stadium in all its glory, so don’t be shy about exploring all the nooks and crannies of the site. When it’s time to give your tired feet a rest, take a moment on the stone seats that line the track and imagine you’re watching those ancient athletes throwing the discus as far as they can, or sprinting for the finish line.