Olympic fever has swept the globe once more, with this year’s sporting extravaganza held in Tokyo, Japan. What will follow in the next few weeks will be nothing short of incredible; world records being shattered, jaw-dropping feats of strength, and fantastic displays of sportsmanship. To say we’re excited would be an understatement. And whilst there’s plenty of action happening on the tracks, let’s not forget about the architectural wonders that the Olympics are housed in each year too! Here’s just 5 of the incredible Olympic stadiums we love from around the world.
Panathenic Olympic Stadium – Greece, 1896 & 2004
It would be impossible to speak about the Olympic Games without mentioning the country where they originated from – Greece. Around 330 B.C., Athenian orator Lykourgos hosted an early version of the games called ‘The Panathenaia Celebrations’. Taking place in an incredible all-marble stadium, it is this same stadium that then hosted the first modern Olympics in 1896… over 2000 years later. Even more impressive – when Greece went on to host their next Olympic games in 2004, the marble stadium barely needed refurbishing. A true testament to the longevity of Greek architecture.
STEP BACK IN TIME: Explore these ancient grounds in the shadow of the Acropolis – Best Of Greece tour
Olympiastadion – Germany, 1972
The sweeping style of Munich’s Olympiastadion was at the time, one of the most reckless designs imaginable for such a monumental structure. Despite the initial design being scrapped for being too daring, the construction went ahead after much campaigning from the likes of jurors and local mayors. The result? Instead of a traditional roof, a transparent canopy created with glass and steel cables. Stretched over three buildings, you’ll find the rippling shapes and reflective pieces reminding you of the beauty of the nearby Alps.
BE INSPIRED: See this revolutionary design on our Imperial Europe tour
Montreal’s Olympic Stadium – Canada, 1976
In the heart of Montreal sits one of the world’s most costly Olympic stadiums. Designed by Roger Taillibert, the elaborate stadium mimics natural forms in a way that is simultaneously eye-catching and fantastical. It also houses the tallest inclined structure in the world – a 175-metre tower that opens up the retractable roof (a roof that took over a decade to complete!).
BE INSPIRED: Best of Eastern Canada
London’s Aquatic Centre – United Kingdom, 2012
Whilst not technically a stadium, the London Aquatics Centre has long been considered the shining architectural jewel of the 2012 Olympics. Designed by famed architect Zaha Hadid, the building is inspired by the fluidity and freedom of water in motion, with the incredible roof sweeping up from the ground as one big wave. Described as “a masterpiece” by the head of the International Olympic Committee, the building is an unmissable architectural feat in the landscape of London.
BE INSPIRED: The iconic sights of London
The ‘Bird’s Nest’ – Beijing, 2008
Despite being affectionately nicknamed ‘The Bird’s Nest’, the unique criss-crossing beams of the stadium were actually inspired by Chinese crazed pottery. Here, even the smallest details have been considered from the expert team of Swiss architects and famed artist, Ai Wei Wei. Everything from the complex binding of unwrapped steel around the stadium, to the shape of its outline symbolising ‘heaven’. Whether you visit this architectural wonder in the day or night, you’re bound to be dazzled by what is undoubtedly one of the greatest Olympic stadiums of all time.
BE INSPIRED: The first timer’s guide to China