“LIVE BETTER - RUNNING AGAINST CANCER & CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASES”
During the Congress a major sport event entitled “LIVE BETTER - RUNNING AGAINST CANCER & CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASES” will take place at the premises of Olympic Athletic Center of Athens "Spiros Louis" (OAKA), with the participation of the scientific community of the congress, but also doctors, physiotherapists, nurses, patients and all those interested and willing to participate in this race, regardless of their fitness level. Greece has been a pioneer in sporting events since ancient times, inspiring the Olympic ideal and this will be showcased in this great sporting event (more info & how to apply instructions coming soon).
The participation of “Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF)”, in this major sport event, is very important for us.
MSF brings humanitarian medical assistance to victims of conflict, natural disasters, epidemics or healthcare exclusion.
The running event, through the generous contribution of our sponsors and running community, will benefit “Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF)”, the international, independent medical humanitarian organization.
Olympic Athletic Center of Athens “Spiros Louis”
The Athens Olympic Sports Center (OAKA) was named after the winner of the 1896 Marathon Spyros Louis, a resident of the Municipality of Maroussi. The area of 1,000 acres, where it is located, belongs administratively to the Municipality of Maroussi.
The foundation stone of OAKA was laid on 8 January 1980, by the Prime Minister of Greece and later President of the Republic Konstantinos Karamanlis. The vision that led him to the construction of OAKA, was to gradually create all the appropriate conditions so that at some point the Olympic Games will be hosted again in Greece.
Two years later, on 8 September 1982, the opening day of the 13th Pan-European Championship, the inauguration of the Athens Olympic Sports Center was held by the President of the Republic Konstantinos Karamanlis and the Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou. The construction company was the German Weidleplan with architects H. Stalhout, Fr. Herre and Dim. Andrikopoulos.
In the following years, the Olympic Cycling Track (inaugurated in 1991), the Olympic Track and Field Center (1991), the Olympic Indoor Gym (1995), the Olympic Tennis Center (2004) and all other sports facilities were added. The new Olympic Athletic Center of Athens was a construction and technological masterpiece, which even today, with the addition of renovation works by Santiago Calatrava, is an integral part of the growing area of the northern suburbs of Athens.
The suburb of the province of Attica called Amaroussio is located 10 kilometers north of the center of Athens. The name Amaroussio was taken from the Goddess Artemis, who was worshiped as "Amarysia" in the Municipality of Athmonos.
Pausanias mentions that the games, which took place in the Municipality of Athmonos, were called "Amarysia". The worship of Artemis came to Attica from Amarynthos, a city in southern Evia. These games included music and sports as well as the Pyrrhic dance.
The Pyrrhic dance marked the coming of age of the teenagers and was part of the ritual of their initiation into the secrets of the proper functioning of the state. Pyrrhic, from whom the dance took its name, was one of the Kurites, who, according to Greek mythology, protected Zeus when he was an infant from the fury of Saturn. And how did they do that? They struck the spears hard on their shields to make a deafening noise so Zeus could not hear the baby crying.
A few meters outside the installation of the Tennis Court, the grave of an athlete was found (400-375 BC).
Through the facilities of the Olympic Sports Center of Athens passes the Hadrian's Aqueduct, a work of Emperor Hadrian, which was started in 125 AD. and was completed in 140 AD. Water was pumped from Mount Penteli and through the current Municipality of Psychiko and the area of Ampelokipi of the Municipality of Athens, was stored it in Dexamenis Square at the foot of Lycabettus, from where it was distributed.
The Architect Thinking
The return of the Olympic Games to their country of origin provides an opportunity for renewal - an opportunity that is underscored by the fact that these are the first Olympic Games of a new millennium. The renewal is possible, first of all, for Athens itself. To their great credit, Greece and the Athens 2004 organization have been determined to make the most of this occasion. But I also think there is an occasion for renewal for the visitors to the Olympic Games, and for the people who will follow the competitions on television. Many people today have lost touch with this source; they are unaware, for example, that Marathon is a place. I believe that people from around the world will find it fascinating and very moving to connect the Olympic Games to these sites. That encounter has also been crucial to me in the work I have been allowed to contribute.
In the tradition of other host cities to the Olympic Games - Barcelona, for example - Greece and the Athens 2004 organization have undertaken a very ambitious project. It involves not just the Athens Olympic Sports Complex itself but also a new airport, a peripheral road, tramways in the city, and light rail. This has been a truly heroic challenge for Greece, which is a small country with only some 11 million citizens. I admire the enormous effort that Greece has made to present the Olympic Games in a modern way, using this occasion to show the city of Athens with a new face. Great credit is due to everyone who has had the desire to make the Athens Olympic Sports Complex into a beautiful legacy for the public.
People understand Greek culture in terms of the classical tradition, with its columns, architraves and pediments. But there is also a later Greek tradition, the Byzantine, which is all arcs and vaults. I had to choose how to articulate the project within these traditions. For the very long spaces that had to be overcome in roofing the Olympic Stadium and the Velodrome, I thought the more recent Byzantine tradition was appropriate. However, the sequence of space in plan – the central axis, Agora, plaza, and the stoa-like entrance plazas – is very classical. There is also a third, more general tradition at work, the Mediterranean. You see it in the landscaping, the light and color (with the reliance on white, blue and ocher), the use of materials such as ceramic tile. So I would say of the design for the Athens Olympic Sports Complex that the plan is classical, the elevations are Byzantine, and the spirit is Mediterranean.
I feel deeply grateful for the generosity of Greece and Athens 2004 in giving such an important assignment to an architect and engineer from abroad. By doing so, they have emphasized the spirit of ecumenism that is at the heart of the Olympic Games.
Significant ancient remains have come to light during the works carried out in preparation for the Olympic Games.
- Roman water reservoir, Lassani
- Location of discovery of funerary urn with ancient remains of athlete
- Hellenistic water reservoir, Artemidos Street
- Terracotta water pipe of Roman times
- Roman water reservoir to NE of Olympic Stadium
- Roman water reservoir, Sp. Louis Street
- Remains of artisan installations
- Remains of buildings of various phases
- Roman baths
- Shafts of Hadrianic Aqueduct
Maroussi: The Olympic Stadium
The plain on which the Olympic Stadium has been erected (1978-1982) was once part of the ancient deme of Athmonon. Following the political reorganization instituted by Cleisthenes in 507/6 BC to entrance the democratic system, Attica was divided into ten parts, each one corresponding to a tribe, and each embracing several demes, one of which was the deme of Athmonon. The citizens of Athmonon belonged to the tribe of Cecropis, and it is thought that the administrative, religious and residential center of their deme was at Pelikas, on an eminence SW of the little town of Amarousion (Maroussi).
Archaeological excavation over the past hundred years at Maroussi, one of Athens’ best-known northern suburbs haw brought to light very few ancient finds, for the city was established in the Byzantine period. At the time of the first modern Olympics (1896), Maroussi had a population of just 1800, but the triumphal performance of competitors from the district was truly astonishing: Spyros Louis won the Marathon, followed (in 6th and 8th place respectively) by two of his fellow villagers, Papasymeon and Μasouris. One of the oldest organized athletics centers in the country was opened in Maroussi immediately after the Games.
Maroussi: The Cult of Artemis
Salvage Digs around the Pelikas site have confirmed the great archaeological importance of the area. Construction of the Attiki Odos brought to light an ancient road and a large 5th century BC graveyard, with tombs containing exceptionally fine painted vessels and other items. The segment of road excavated was part of the main road to Pelikas. Archaeologists and explorers writing in the 19th century mention the existence of small Byzantine and post-Byzantine churches. They also describe ancient walled foundations, and inscriptions referring to the cult of Artemis. Two marble boundary stones come from the temple of Artemis, while an (extant) 4th century BC inscription contains a text describing a ceremony in honour of the goddess, as well as annual athletic, musical and dance competitions. We do not know exactly where the ancient temple stood, but it haw been suggested that the Byzantine Church of Panagia Neratziotissa, a single-cell basilica built in the year 850, may have been erected over the ruins of the temple of Artemis. The games were probably held on the plain to the south of Pelikas, where the present-day Olympic Stadium stands.
Natural Setting of the Athens Olympic Sports Complex site
A little stream, called Pispiris, crosses the plain. It passes to the east and south of the Olympic Stadium grounds, bending westward at Spyrou Loui Street. This area has always been famous for its deposits of fine quality potter’s clay. Deeper strata also contain lignite, which was mined commercially until the 1960s. The geology of the region made it difficult to ensure a water supply, since the water table was too deep to be tapped by wells. Turning to the vegetable kingdom, we know that in ancient times the plain of Athmonon was densely planted with vineyards and olive groves, and there are still some centuries-old trees in groves around the district.
Roman period: Waterworks
The extensive excavations carried out by the 2nd Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities in the general area of the Olympic Stadium over the past five years have shown that during the Roman period (1st-2nd c. AD) the inhabitants of this district constructed large reservoirs in order to assure a water supply for the villages and for the irrigation of their fields. Unfortunately, owing to the demands of the work in progress for the completion of the Olympic sports complex, these finds have not yet been published. However, even preliminary observations confirm the lively interst of Roman Athmonon in promoting waterworks. Recent finds include the ruins of exceptionally large reservoirs at Lassani (south side of Pelikas), in Artemidos Street, and on the northeast and western sides of the Olympic Stadium. Three of these date from the 2nd century AD. The Lassani reservoir, which has been partially restored and is open to visitors, stands on a large embankment adjacent a short distance to the north side of the Attiki Odos. Another reservoir is preserved a short distance to the north of the Olympic stadium; it may be visited, and is included in the redevelopment plans for this area. The third reservoir was discovered in Spyrou Loui Street, SW of the Stadium. There, exploration revealed a rectangular reservoir on two levels (on a stepped arrangement), measuring 10X30 metres overall, which was found to contain a Hellenistic statue of a female figure, missing the head. This reservoir was filled in again to allow the road to be widened in view of the Olympic Games. In general, these Roman reservoirs had mosaic floors of ceramic tile, walls plastered with a waterproof mortar, steps leading down into them and a pipe for drainage. Archaeologists believe that they had a roof, slightly raised.
The reservoirs were filled by means of large clay pipes that brought the watr to Maroussi from Kifissia, where springs were abundant. These pipes were elliptical in section, and put together in segments, each assembled from a pair of matching horseshoe-shaped halves. A long stretch of a similar conduit was discovered just north of the Olympic Tennis Courts: running in a south-easterly direction, it passes beneath the west side of Tennis Court and cuts across the Grand Avenue. A length of this conduit, including a junction , is preserved at a depth of 4.02 metres in a viewing shaft with a glass roof, at the point where the Avenue meets the Tennis Court. Access to these conduits for purposes of cleaning and repair was assured by rectangular masonry (brick or stone) shafts at regular short intervals.
The most recent (March-May 2004) excavations carried out by the 2nd EPCA focused on an area near Spyrou Loui Street, on the southern edge on the Olympic Stadium. This dig brought to light a roman bathhouse, just beside the Walking Track. This complex which measures 16X24 metres overall and is oriented north-south, is divided into two parts. At the north end there is an open rectangular courtyard with rooms leading off it on the east and west sides. Forming the building’s southern façade are a pair of rectangular projections framing an ornamental recess. Inside the south end of the building a colonnade surrounds another open courtyard, with a ceramic-tiled floor and a Π-shaped pool with white plastering. Shallow steps led down into the pool, and a lead drainpipe carried the water away. This was obviously a cold-water pool, and was probably used by athletes and visitors. At some later time a separate hot water bath and steam house was built outside the northwest wall of the original building, but was not connected to the main facility.
While the Roman reservoirs in the area of the Olympic Stadium were fed by surface water, deep beneath the plain on which the Olympic facilities stand ran the great aqueduct built by the Emperor Hadrian to supply the city of Athens. Construction of the aqueduct was begun by Hadrian in 125AD and completed in 140 AD. It tapped into springs on Mount Parnes (Parnitha) and in Kifissia, about 20 km from the city. It was built entirely underground, a rectangular tunnel with an arched roof, measuring 0.7 metres wide by 1.6 metres high. Access shafts were sunk every 35 metres to allow for cleaning and repairs. The aqueduct carried the water to the great reservoir (26X9 metres, and 2 metres deep) on the lower slope of Lycabettus Hill (Dexamenis Square, Kolonaki), for distribution. The reservoir had a propylon (destroyed in 1778) with four Ionic columns and an architrave bearing an inscription with a dedication to Hadrian and his successor Antoninus Pius, in whose reign the work was completed. In the area of the Olympic facilities in Μaroussi the aqueduct lies at a depth of about 20 metres. Many of the access shafts connected with this aqueduct have been preserved, some of them circular, some of them square. On the north side of the Olympic Stadium the visitor can see shafts 119, 121 and 122, while sections of shafts 128, 129, 130 and 131, stripped of their embankments (because of the lowering of the level of he ground for the purposes of the 2004 Games) may be seen on the west side of the Olympic area, near the steps leading to the electric train.
Evidence of earlier use of the Athens Olympic Sports Complex site
Archaeological excavation has shown that the site has been in use since the Geometric period (8th c. BC). Across the fields ran streams, and roads lined with tombs. Section of an ancient road uncovered near the reservoir, produced fragment of a red-figured cup with presentation of god Dionysos. There is evidence of athletic activity in the discovery, near the Olympic Tennis Court, of a marble funerary urn (400-375 BC) containing the remains of an athlete, as shown by the funeral gifts accompanying the bones: a gold dust particle, two squat lekythoi, a stone alabastron and an iron strigil. Strigils made of bronze or iron were used by athletes in ancient times to scrape their bodies clean after exercise.
The small showcase at the Olympic Stadium in Maroussi (next to the Grand Avenue and the Athletes’ Guesthouses) was designed and created by the 2nd EPCA with the support of the General Secretariat for Sport and the Athens 2004 Organisation to preserve and display a collection of large artefacts and casts of items unearthed during the excavations carried out in recent years. These include a copy of a Hellenistic statue of a goddess found in the Roman reservoir in Spyrou Loui Street, a cat of the burial urn from the Tennis Court, a large section of Roman clay water pipe, a Byzantine storage bin, and a tomb enclosure and sarcophagus from the 4th century BC, discovered during excavations for the construction of the Attiki Odos (Pelikas) near the Olympic Stadium. The finds demonstrate the continuous use of the site from antiquity to the Byzantine age.